The Gaia Project is a non-profit charitable organization with the mission to empower youth to take action on climate change for a healthy environment.
At The Gaia Project, we use a unique approach to empower youth to take action. We incorporate inquiry-based education, curriculum links, and local action in each of our projects.
Inquiry-Based Education: We aim to facilitate a hands-on experience that allows students of all ages to explore issues of interest.
Curriculum-Linked: Partnered with the Department of Education, we ensure our programs are age appropriate and up to date with provincial and global educational goals.
Thinking Global, Acting Local: We focus on providing students the resources they need to take local action that will impact the global issue of climate change.
Improve students' understanding of the role energy has in the world and their lives
Improve students' understanding of the climate's complex influence on society
Encouraging students' to consider their role in future green job markets
Build students' skills in science, technology, engineering, arts, and math.
Elizabeth “Lizzy” Gresh was born in Rothesay, New Brunswick where she lived until attending Acadia University, earning an undergraduate degree in Economics and then moving on to Toronto, studying at York University, where she completed her Masters Degree in Environmental Studies and Business and Environment certificate. Throughout her career, Lizzy has worked for a range of national and provincial non-profits including Learning for a Sustainable Future, Evergreen Canada, the Heart and Stroke Foundation and The Canadian Cancer Society. Lizzy is a passionate environmentalist who believes in taking practical steps forward in the fight against climate change. As she leads the Gaia Project, she is also a mother to two growing girls, her dog Ellie and two cats, Mac and Kim.
Born and raised in Rivière-Verte, New Brunswick, Jimmy Therrien is a professional passionate about bringing hands-on energy and climate change education to youth in his province. With his team at Gaia, he helps NB teachers support the development of energy and climate science literacy in students so they can think critically and make informed decisions about real issues affecting their life and future. Jimmy wants to see youth feel empowered to take concrete actions individually or collectively to improve sustainability in their communities. Creative and dynamic, Jimmy’s long experience in science and environmental education and research brings a holistic perspective to The Gaia Project’s work since he first started with the organization in 2011.
Jimmy Therrien completed a Bachelor of Science from Université de Moncton in 2004. Then, while working 5 years for an environmental education research group and contributing to a number of projects in different countries including Romania, Morocco, United States and Canada, he earned his Masters degree in Environmental Studies in 2009. Jimmy is not only thriving to make The Gaia Project a reliant source of energy and climate change education for New Brunswick students, but outside his work with the organization, he likes to volunteer his time to community building projects that have positive social and environmental impacts. In 2015, Jimmy was selected as one of Atlantic Canada’s Under 40 leaders by the 21inc program. He is also an avid cyclist and runner who, with the help of his wife Mélanie, adopted a vegan lifestyle 4 years ago with the goals to become healthier and help reduce his own environmental footprint. A quote he believes in strongly: “The overall impact is greater than the sum of all individual sustainability actions.”
Jane is a young professional with extensive experience in the youth facilitation world. She began developing and delivering youth programs in 2012 with the Red Cross and continued in later years with other positions at The Red Cross and the Saint John Community Loan Fund. She completed a Bachelor of Science degree majoring in Environmental Science from Saint Mary’s University where she was on the Sustainability Committee and President of the Environmental Society. In 2017 Jane was selected as the only Atlantic Canadian youth representative to attend the national Generation Energy conference as part of the Youth Champions team. Outside of working at Gaia, Jane enjoys spending as much time outside as possible. Jane has been with Gaia for 2 years and joined this team because it was a perfect mix of facilitation and science. She believes effective communication of science is one of the missing links in today’s society.
Geoff MacDonald is a professional in the field of science education research. With a Master’s degree focused of inquiry-based science instruction and curriculum development, Geoff remains ambitious while surfacing solutions to improve the student experience in science classrooms around New Brunswick. Geoff was hired by The Gaia Project in June of 2018 to begin research and development of the Climate Change Education Plan. This immense project will target current k-12 educational goals and integrate project based topics related to sustainable living, climate change mitigation strategies and energy literacy. Geoff has been sharing science related activities and experiments with youth for more than 10 years. He truly enjoys the look of engagement on a student’s face as they begin to think outside the box and make inquiry-based connections. Teacher professional learning has been a passion of Geoff”s through facilitating science education workshops at the University of New Brunswick. Geoff was happy to join The Gaia Project and work hard to imprint a positive and innovative impact on the modern education of the students of New Brunswick.
Hartley Prosser is passionate about bringing holistic ecosystem thinking to urban and rural communities, to connect people with nature. Coming from a degree and background in agricultural sciences, Hartley is specialized in ecosystem-based thinking such as; self-heating passive solar greenhouses, aquaponic growing systems, green living-roof systems, and so on. Hartley believes we can help mitigate climate change by fostering “climate literacy” in students, and then following-up with projects to integrate creative-problem solving into classrooms. Ultimately, demonstrating and developing adaptable solutions to climate change.
Facilitating learning experiences with youth in a variety of settings including public education, community engagement events, and public workshops, is Hartley’s most recent background. He is proud to be a Gaia Project Program Delivery Officer, helping to facilitate NB’s next generation of creative problem solvers!
Zachary Bourque was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia and has spent most of his life in Fredericton, New Brunswick. There, he attended the University of New Brunswick, earning both a Bachelors of Science in Environmental and Natural Resource management, and a Masters degree in Environmental Management. Since a young age, his passion for the natural environment was made evident to his parents and friends alike. This passion lead Zachary to working with multiple non-governmental organizations in Fredericton such as Nature NB and the Conservation Council of New Brunswick, as well as with the University of New Brunswick itself, as a Junior Laboratory Technician.
He is confident that his knowledge, passion and experience with the environment and climate change can be a true asset in the effort to supporting New Brunswick’s teachers develop energy and climate science literacy in their students. Zachary believes that climate change is an inter-generational problem, and to best enable future generations to be able to aid in lessening its impacts, they must become cognisant of the issue and how to achieve sustainable living.
George Dashner has worked in the field of climate change for close to 40 years which included a 30 year career with NB Power focused on energy efficiency and sustainability. George’s NB Power career included developing and delivering energy efficiency programs, research and development, Integrated Resource planning, renewable energy, and Demand Side Management.
“Energy and climate sustainability is a long term goal that will require behavioural change in all of us to be successful. We at The Gaia Project believe that providing our youth with the skills to identify and address the challenges of sustainability will be critical in helping them develop a cleaner environment for themselves and their children.”
George has been a volunteer and board member at The Gaia Project for the past seven years; he enjoys working with the Gaia team, he is inspired by their passion and commitment for developing and delivering first class programs on sustainability to New Brunswick schools.
Jake Arsenault is a serial high-tech entrepreneur. His related areas of interest include marketing, team building and new product creation. He has a PhD in engineering from the University of New Brunswick (UNB). Jake founded Inversa Systems, a pioneer of gamma-ray imaging for infrastructure based on his PhD research. He is also co-founder of The Black Arcs (TBA), an impact venture design to disrupt. TBA creates land-use and mobility models of cities, but built as web games for a broader civic discussion of sustainability.
Helping to support start-ups in the region, Jake mentors various early stage ventures. He enjoyed his time as Entrepreneur in Residence at UNB so much that he can still be found kicking around at TME’s Summer Institute. He also serves on the WMI Order board of directors and has been asked to contribute to the Ignite Fredericton’s Creative Sector Task Force.
Jakes feels that development of critical thinking through programs, such as the Gaia Project, are essential to Canada’s future success. He also wishes the program existed when he was in school.
Janet started her career in the healthcare field and within five years began work in the area of economic development. She has over 30 years experience working with various provincial government departments in New Brunswick and with the private sector. In 2013, she retired from the federal government as Vice President of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency for the province of New Brunswick.
Janet’s work in economic development included regional and international development with countries such as Japan, Hong Kong, China, the European Economic Community and the United States. Over the years, her work involved the delivery of programs and services to assist companies grow and expand into export markets; to increase productivity through innovation; and to support community groups and the non-profit sector to build capacity in support of economic development of the province.
Since her retirement, Janet has been involved with a number of community organizations, including the Research and Productivity Council, Elementary Literacy Inc., the Heart and Stroke Foundation, Cat Rescue Maritimes, the St Dunstan’s Refugee Sponsorship Initiative, the Renaissance College, and The Gaia Project.
Janet is living in Fredericton with her husband George Phillips. She is an outdoor enthusiast and enjoys world travel.
“The reason I got involved with The Gaia Project is because of its approach to the environment and climate change, working with youth in a hands on way to help them to make practical decisions for sustainability of our environment into the future. The significance of climate change on our lives has never been greater than it is now and Gaia is preparing our future citizens to think seriously about how they can contribute to a sustainable environment into the future.”
With complimentary degrees in Environmental Studies and Architecture from the University of Waterloo, Krista believes that all building typologies and development can and should subscribe to sustainable building practices. Krista’s full service, award winning sustainable design firm provides consultation, design and management to numerous green building projects throughout North America. Leading by example is an important and practiced philosophy and Krista strongly advocates for sustainability and climate change educations in our schools. Empowering the youth of today will encourage a healthier planet for tomorrow.
Nick Russon is a practicing lawyer with the law firm of Stewart McKelvey in Fredericton. With a keen interest in the environment and the outdoors, Nick considers it essential that all New Brunswick students be exposed to energy and sustainability education to expose them to new career possibilities and to provide a starting point in making informed decisions on energy and sustainability issues throughout their lives.
Carolyn Barnhart is entering her 28th year of teaching science. She has enjoyed a variety of teaching opportunities from a Cree school in Moosonee, a Teacher’s academy in Malawi, to her current position as SPR of Science at Fredericton High School.
As an educator, Carolyn saw the benefits of the Gaia Project early on – the hand’s on, problem solving model challenged her as a “traditional” educator, but she knew it would benefit her students, providing them with 21st century skills and excellent opportunities to learn and grow as citizens. Building relationships with outside agencies (Gaia, Brilliant Labs and DU) provides the students with opportunities to identify and solve real world problems and make a difference!
She has recently been recognized by the APEGNB with the Inspirational STEM Award Teacher and received a Prime Ministers Award Certificate for
Teaching Excellence in STEM. This past fall, she was quoted in a NYTimes
article “Making Education Inclusive”.
At Fredericton High School she is the co-advisor of Student Council and Kats
Kitchen. She and her husband are passionate about renovating and enjoy their
cliff edge “tiny home” on Grand Manan.
What it means to be on the board….
“I am humbled to be a member of the Gaia Board of Directors. It gives me an opportunity to give back to an organization that has given me and my students so many amazing opportunities and experiences. They have had a profound impact on me as an educator.”
Monique LeBlanc brings over 30 years of government experience to the Gaia Project. Currently an economic development manager with the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, she has worked in both federal and provincial departments, agencies and councils in policy, communications and program delivery positions. As a volunteer, she has served at the executive and board member level of several organizations working on environmental and social issues. Her strong connection and love for nature has grounded her belief in the importance of maintaining a balance between our human footprint and our environment, and in building consensus to adopt sustainable practices.
I joined the Gaia Project because I believe experiential learning is pivotal in supporting the critical thinking and innovation skills required of this and future generations to address environmental challenges. The Gaia Project is making a real difference by supporting teachers and students across New Brunswick in learning about the causes and impacts of climate change and in harnessing their creativity in building solutions for sustainable energy production and use.
Brian attended Queen’s University where he obtained a
Bachelor of Science in Engineering Physics and a Bachelor of
Arts in Music, both in 2005. After graduation he went to
work in Saskatchewan and the UK on carbon capture and
storage projects, including serving as lead technical advisor
to the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change on
carbon capture technologies.
In 2009, he founded The Gaia Project, a charitable
organization that provides students with hands on
opportunities to make informed decisions about energy and
its impact on the environment.
John is a senior executive with over forty years of leadership experience in the public, private and not-for-profit sectors. He has worked for the governments of Canada, Saskatchewan and the Northwest Territories and has held executive positions in the oil and gas, hi-tech and professional services industries. He has served on the Board of Directors of charitable organizations active the education, international development and community service fields. He is a graduate of the environmental sciences program at the University of Waterloo.
John has a long-standing interest in environmental matters generally and believes that the best way to strengthen environmental stewardship is through education about the consequences resulting from unsustainable practices and the opportunities which exist today for individuals to act to lessen environmental degradation. The Gaia Project speaks directly to this by training and inspiring students – our future leaders – to assess environmental issues and develop practical responses which can be implemented now.
I have been working on climate change for over 35 years; I believe that The Gaia Project has a piece of the puzzle that will help us solve it!
Education is a key component of our sponsorship priorities and this program (Trash Tracker) was a perfect fit.
I am humbled to be a member of the Gaia Board of Directors. It gives me an opportunity to give back to an organization that has given me and my students so many amazing opportunities and experiences. They have had a profound impact on me as an educator.
Climate change comes off as a complex subject to most, but The Gaia Project makes it approachable for students. When students feel empowered to take action, amazing progress can be made!