2023 Winter Speaker Series: Creatures Great & Small

Welcome to our 2023 Winter Speaker Series! This year our theme is “Creatures Great and Small”

We chose four highly skilled and passionate naturalists who are studying creatures great and small which share our ecosystem in the Columbia Valley.

Here are the dates and topics for 2023:


January 12, 7 – 8 PM Mountain Time

Cat Cowen – The Grizzly Bear at Home: An Inside Glimpse on Bear Behavior and Conservation in Interior Mountain Ecosystems

Having started her journey gearing towards veterinary sciences, Cat Cowan’s plans changed upon meeting grizzly bears in Banff in 2011. Since then, Cat has focused her career on bears and has had many unique opportunities – both in wild and captive environments – giving her a unique perspective on bear behavior, their environment, needs, drivers, the role they play on the landscape, and the ever changing relationship between bears and people. Cat is currently the Manager of the Kicking Horse Grizzly Bear Refuge and has been overlooking the wellbeing of Boo, Kicking Horse’s resident grizzly bear, since 2016.

During this presentation, Cat will be sharing her findings on individual behavior, what Boo has taught us over the years about welfare, interaction, habitat needs and how it compares to wild bears on the landscape. She will also be touching upon behavior and insight on local wildlife adapting to increased visitor and human activity in the Golden area, and  how increased education and interpretation about bears ignites a change in perspective about how our wild world works as a whole.

View the recording of the webinar here.

And here are the links that Cat refers to in the video:

Here is the link to the interactive map

Here is a link with further information about GBPU

Cat’s email is ccowan@kickinghorseresort.com. She indicated she is happy to answer questions directly. 


January 26, 7 – 8 PM Mountain Time

Mirjam Barrueto –  Wolverines in a changing landscape and warming climate

Mirjam is a wolverine researcher, PhD student, conservation biologist, climber, ultra-runner and back-country skier. As a child, wildlife and nature documentaries inspired her to become an adventurer and biologist. As a wildlife researcher she is passionate about exploring creative ways to make scientific research accessible to a broad audience, and to inspire others to get interested and involved in conservation themselves.

Mirjam is going to share her latest research about the fascinating opportunities and challenges faced by this top predator living at the top of the world. 

View the recording of the webinar here.

MIriam also recommends these books: Doug Chadwick – The Wolverine Way, Peter Krott – The Demon of the North

February 9, 7 – 8 PM Mountain Time

Nick Laferriere – The small important things: Our local Pollinators

Nick believes that we are a part of nature, not apart from it. We are intertwined and woven within its fabric. If we can embrace our role as a keystone species, we could help to create a more beautiful world and regenerate our wilds. From a mentality of extraction to one of regeneration, reciprocity and mutualism. 

Biodiversity is the key to life on this planet. Nature continues to strive for more and more species to occupy every available niche within its biosphere. If we nurture nature in our yards and our soils, we can offer our spaces back to nature, and invite the possibilities for life. 

This all starts with native plants, the architects and foundation to which the rest of the ecological triangle rests upon. The more plant diversity, the more insects, amphibians, birds, mammals, fungi, lichen, mosses, and all manner of wild beings. 

In this discussion, we’ll dive into the world of plant and insect interactions, and help you understand the complex life stories playing out all around you, all the time. From Bumblebee mimics, to the notorious Wasp’s critical role in the ecosystem, to herbivorous worms that turn to goo and emerge as a moth with no mouth that lives less than a week, the rabbit hole is infinitely deep and complex. 

View the recording of the webinar here.

Contact Nick at Creekycedars@gmail.com

Native Seed Resources include:

Kinseed Ecologies 

Nupqu Native Plants Nursery 

Wild about Flowers 

February 23 – 7 – 8 PM Mountain Time 

Rhiannon Kirton – Elk in the Columbia Headwaters

Rhiannon is a Zoologist and outdoor enthusiast currently studying Elk in the Southern Columbia Valley for the Shuswap Indian Band.

Her undergraduate career, which provided the privilege of ecological field experiences around the globe, opened her eyes to the complexities of wildlife management and conservation and motivated me to delve into work that looks at how humans interact with and impact wildlife, as well as the need to incorporate social sciences into our work with wildlife.

Since her undergraduate degree was completed, she has been fortunate to work with and learn from wildlife biologists, conservation experts and other stakeholders from a diversity of backgrounds which has deeply broadened her perspectives on how we manage wildlife.

Rhiannon’s research interests include: large mammal ecology, human-wildlife conflict, landscape ecology, anthropogenic impacts, carnivore ecology, habitat connectivity and how we can learn from Indigenous peoples to achieve greater sustainability and biodiversity. She is currently working in the Columbia Headwaters area studying local Elk herds.

View the recording of the webinar here.



Links referred to in the webinar:

Flying BEC 

Elk Model

Low-impact human recreation changes wildlife behavior

To get a hold of Rhiannon to volunteer or ask questions, please email her here


Thank you to the Town of Golden for the ongoing sponsorship of our Winter Speaker Series.

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Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Do you spend time out on the trails or in the backcountry and want to learn more about…

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Bringing the Salmon Home documentary film

Monday, May 27, 2024

The mighty Columbia River was once the source of the world’s greatest salmon runs. But massive dams…

Naturalist guided bird walk (Registration starts May 15)

Saturday, June 15, 2024

Are you interested in learning about the birds that call Golden their home these days? Come join Naturalist…

Native Flora Garden Tour (Creeky Cedars) Registration opens June 3, 2024

Sunday, June 23, 2024

Join Nick Laferriere; artist, photographer and gardener (some of his roles!) as he tours us around his local…

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