Our Volunteers

There’s no doubt about it … our incredible volunteers are what make Heartland Forest an inviting, relaxing and beautiful place. Whether it is planning events, participating on a committee, pulling invasive weeds, planting trees and flowers, stuffing envelopes or assisting in our Forest Discovery programs, they make a difference!

If you are interested in volunteering at Heartland Forest, please email info@heartlandforest.org and we will be sure to contact you.

Thank you to each one who gives of their time and talents.  EVERY contribution is unique and vital to the success of Heartland Forest. Check out the following volunteers of the month – we are so proud!

Adam Howard

Jason & Stephanie

Paul Groot

April Volunteer of the Month

Kim Mantle


Kimmy, Kimmy, Kimmy!  We look forward to your arrival every Friday.  You always have lots to tell us and we especially enjoy the stories about your dog Lucky Boy.  You are the best sweeper at Heartland, whether you are inside or outside you make sure the dirt is all swept up.

Life at Heartland wouldn’t be the same without your hugs and beautiful smile. Thank you for being such an important part of our maintenance team.  We love you!

March Volunteer of the Month

Earl Auger

Earl Auger

What a gem!  Earl is a master woodworker and his specialty is creating unique items for Heartland Forest to sell.  Pictured here with Rita are a few of his candy dishes.

Earl we love your visits, especially when you bring us jube jubes to fill the candy dish in the staff room.  You are skilled and imaginative and we are in awe of your
talent.  Keep smiling—you amaze us.

February Volunteer of the Month

Bill Craine


Bill joined the Heartland Forest Volunteer maintenance team several years go when he retired from the St Lawrence Seaway
Authority.  Bill, we love it when you drop in for a coffee, chat with us and check out what’s on the agenda for the day.  You have worked alongside Dan on most areas of the property and are always willing to do
whatever is needed.  Your easy-going spirit is appreciated by all the staff and volunteers.

January Volunteers of the Month

Junior Woodcarving Club Monday Night Program
John, Laura, Adam, Dennis and Mark


Every Monday night these four volunteers – John Zawaly, Laura Hockton, Dennis Shriner and Mark Putnam along with helper Adam Kane (pictured in the middle), give of their time and carving expertise to pass on to the next generation the art of woodcarving.   You should see the kids – so engaged and excited to be creating something with their hands.  We are thankful for their commitment to the program and to Heartland Forest.  We think you’re amazing!

December Volunteer of the Month

Renata Gawel

Renata - Dec volunteer

Look at her smile!  Renata is in her glory, surrounded by kids, helping keep our programs and events on track.  She works every Tuesday and Thursday greeting and supporting the team at the Nature Centre.  But her work doesn’t end there – for every event we host she’s there volunteering, bringing her unique brand of humour and wit.  We love you Renata and our very thankful to have you as part of the Heartland Forest Team.

November Volunteer of the Month

Laurie Bisson

Laurie Bisson

Look at her smile!  So full of life and always fun to have around, we love you Laurie!  Thank you for sharing your creative talents with Heartland.  Whether it is doing seasonal decorating, coordinating the decor for special events like the ‘Little Black Dress’ or doing flower arranging workshops – you give your all.  You are a valued member of the women’s Heartbeat volunteer team and we thank you for your laughter and enthusiam.  There’s a group hug coming!

October Volunteers of the Month

Cindy & Geoff Ruchkall

Cindy and Geoff Ruchkall

Cindy and Geoff retired to Niagara Falls from Manitoba two years ago and started to attend the church that meets in the Nature Centre on Sunday mornings.  It didn’t take them long to fall in love with Heartland and what it stands for and they have been volunteering ever since!  They are on Dan’s short list – always willing to lend a hand and not afraid to get dirty!  Whether it’s painting, changing light bulbs, adjusting air flow in the Nature Centre, cleaning dishes,

assisting at a golf tournament or helping out at events – these two say yes.  Thank you for your amazing spirit of giving and for sharing your talents with Heartland.  We are honoured to call you friends.

September Volunteer of the Month

Margaret Mitro

MargaretHere is a women of many talents … from gardening to woodworking to teaching – she can do it all!  And she has done all of that this summer at Heartland Forest.  Thank you Margaret for your commitment and enthusiasm … even in 90o weather.  We are glad you discovered Heartland and we are excited to discover more of your hidden talents!

August Volunteers of the Month

Hunter, Jessica and Kiera

IMG_8858What a fantastic summer camp we had!  All nine weeks were packed with fun and adventure.  We couldn’t have done it without these three wonderful volunteers – Hunter Murdoch, Jessica Staton and Kiera Ballinger – thank you!  We wish you great success as you return to your high school studies.

July 2015 Volunteer of the Month
Dennis Bray

Dennis Bray - croppedThis spring we had over 2000 children come to Heartland Forest for school trips and Dennis took each and every one of them on a train ride!  Thanks Dennis for your faithful donation of time and for your talent in driving the train. The kids love you and our program staff are SO thankful for your flexible and willing spirit. 

June 2015 Volunteer of the Month
Sabrina Roth

Sabrina RothCheers to Sabrina for all she brings to Heartland Forest … creativity, excellence, resourcefulness, dedication … and of course her beautiful smile.  As a valued member of the Heartbeats Women’s Volunteer Team Sabrina is involved in all of our fundraising events.  Her amazing culinary skills are appreciated just as much as her organizational skills.  Thank you Sabrina for sharing your passion for Heartland Forest.

May 2015 Volunteer of the Month
Steven Ingram

StevenSparklesSteven’s technical skills are in much demand at Heartland Forest.  Every morning you can hear at least one person say ‘I hope Steven is coming in today – I need his help!’  We are in awe of your knowledge Steven and so thankful for your willingness to not only fix and set up our computers and media equipment but for teaching us as well.  It’s neat that we are all learning under your supervision … ok … some more than others!  Steven also is the primary caregiver for Sparkles, our Asian Water Monitor Lizard.  Thanks Steven for being part of the team at Heartland – we’re going to keep you!

April 2015 Volunteer of the Month
Anton Gosley

Anton2Have you ever stood in front of our Living Wall within the Discovery Atrium and admired its beauty and craftsmanship?   All that creative talent comes from Anton Gosley, a longtime friend of the forest.  Anton has had a rich and exciting career of making things look real.  We are so thankful that he is willing to bring all that creativity to Heartland Forest.  His first project for us was the big pumpkin house that is used at PumpkinFest every year – that was over nine years ago!  Currently he is working on two new exhibits for the Discovery Atrium, a terrarium for Sparkles our Asian Water Monitor Lizard and an aquarium for native fish and turtles.  You are a joy to have around Anton and we are so thankful for all your contributions!

March Volunteer of the Month
Rick Laslo

Rick Laslo FirepitHave you experienced a spider dog or s’more at Heartland Forest’s fire pit yet?  If you have, you’ve probably met Rick.  He doesn’t seem to feel the cold!  At WinterFest he and his son Jason built the fire and manned the pit for the entire event.  It was -13 degrees that day!  We are so thankful to have you as a volunteer Rick.  Beyond the fire pit, you’ve helped on work days, assisted with parking, fixed tables and lent a hand with maintenance.  What a blessing you are for Heartland Forest.  Thank you!

February Volunteer of the Month
Cheryl Blair

Cheryl Blair

For everyone that’s tried French Fries at a Heartland event you can thank Cheryl Blair.  She definitely has the touch!   We can say the same about her decorating abilities.  For eleven years Cheryl has singlehandedly transformed our grounds for PumpkinFest – pictured above.  Cheryl, we can’t thank you enough for all the little extras you so willingly do.  You always have a smile regardless of the weather or the work.  The families of Niagara and your friends at Heartland salute you!

January Volunteer of the Month
Lynda Weaver

Lynda Weaver

Thank you Lynda for your beautiful spirit and the way you bring sunshine into every room you enter.  Whenever we need you, you’re there for us!  From events to admin to kids programs – you’ll pitch in no matter the need. We are so thankful for your friendship and celebrate your commitment to Heartland Forest.