Our Team

Steve Thomson
Colin Pritchard

Colin grew up in the North Okanagan where he got an early appreciation for the value of the agricultural industries in the regional economy and beyond. While his background is in law, Colin’s longer career focus was in business development where his successful enterprises included cattle, sheep, and poultry farming. In addition, his enterprises included commercial real estate development.

Colin is retired from both his businesses and from law, but he remains active in the community through his work in philanthropy.

Leah Schurian

Leah was born and raised in Kelowna.  Her childhood was spent exploring Joe Rich around her family’s rural home.  She completed an undergraduate degree at UBC (Okanagan Campus) in International Relations before continuing on to law school.  She completed her Juris Doctor at the University of Alberta in 2013 and was called to the British Columbia Bar in 2014.  She practiced at a leading regional firm and another small Kelowna firm before setting out on her own as a sole practitioner.  Leah divides her time between her small practice and caring for her two young children and two rescued dogs.  She has been a long-time governance volunteer with the BC SPCA.  She has previously served on the board of directors for a local theatre production society.  She currently serves as the President (and is a founding member) of the Friends of Woodhaven Nature Conservancy Society.  She also volunteers for the RDCO Environmental Advisory Commission.  Leah is thrilled to have the opportunity to combine her education with her passion for conservation and restoration.

Eve Wegscheidler

Eve grew up in Penticton with the natural environment as her back yard and through her explorations she came to love and appreciate the flora and fauna that makes the Okanagan special. She moved to Kelowna to attend Okanagan College and went on to work at the Regional District of Central Okanagan, predominantly in the Regional Parks Services Administration and Environmental Education/Visitor Services divisions. Time spent doing anything outdoors is her favorite pastime. Encouraging residents and visitors to experience and love the unique natural spaces of the Okanagan valley and preserving this important environment has become life-long purpose. Eve joined COLT in 2019.

Barry Jones – Director

Barry is a retired physician and joined COLT in 2007. His outdoor interests include skiing, canoe camping, golf, bird watching, hiking and biking. He has just finished a 6 year stint as a member of the Environmental Assessment Commission of the Regional District.

Dorothy Mills – Director

Dorothy has lived in Kelowna since the 1970s and is an accountant with a CPA, CGA designation. She has been a Director of the Friends of Mission Creek since 1996, and more recently joined the Board of the Kelowna General Hospital Foundation. Dorothy is avid about the outdoors and enjoys hiking, horseback riding, skiing, and walking her dog.

Judie Steeves – Recording Secretary

I grew up in the Okanagan, roaming the hills and fishing with my dad, then took journalism at Vancouver Community College after working for a year, part-time, for the Penticton Herald. After stints as editor of the Delta Optimist, then as a reporter for the daily Columbian Newspaper, I worked for Douglas College, Pacific Vocational Institute, BCIT and UBC as an information officer.We then moved to an isolated part of the Cariboo with our first baby, where we had our second, and where we built a log home on 40 acres off the power grid surrounded by forest. It was amazing to live so close to the natural world that has always fascinated me. There’s always something new to learn about bugs and birds, plants and animals, air and water, rocks and earth and how interconnected they all are.While there, I produced a beef recipe book for the B.C. CattleBelles.In 1985 we moved back to the Okanagan where I’ve been writing for the Kelowna Capital News for 21 years, including a weekly outdoors column called Trail Mix for 20 years or so and a weekly food column, from Jude’s Kitchen, for 14 years.Okanagan Trips and Trails, co-authored with Murphy Shewchuk was first published in 1999 while Jude’s Kitchen was published in 2011.

Bob Groves – Director

Bob Groves is a lawyer in private practice, having arrived in Kelowna in 1983. He is also a Professor in the Faculty of Business at Okanagan College.  Bob served as an executive member of the Kelowna Bar Association for several years, and is a Past President. He was a Director with the Kelowna Museums Society from 2003 – 2013. Bob joined the Board of the Central Okanagan Land Trust in 2013.

Don Knox – Director

Donald Knox has had a lifelong love of the natural environment and its wonderments. He has lived all but his university years in the Central Okanagan and will be here until the end. His working career was spent trying to ‘educate the masses’ in SD 23 where he tried to instill an appreciation of the natural world in his young charges. Don currently is a member of three boards dedicated to the preservation and enhancement of the natural world and one that is trying to preserve the built heritage we have created.

Kurt Zander – Secretary

I came from Toronto to Westbank in 1969, fell in love with the area and practiced there as a Family Physician until retirement in 2004. I like to paddle, camp, ski, golf, bird and bike. Aware of our delicate and threatened environment, I took the opportunity to join COLT in 2010, and in the fall of 2013 became the Trust’s President.

Laura Hooker – Director

Laura moved to the Kelowna area about twenty years ago to join the Biology faculty at Okanagan University College, and is now an Associate Professor of Biology at UBC Okanagan campus.  Prior to coming to Kelowna, she obtained a MSc. in Zoology from UBC in Vancouver and subsequently worked as an environmental consultant.  Laura’s teaching and research specialties lie within the field of aquatic ecology.  She has taught such courses as Flora and Fauna of Inland Waters, Limnology, Environmental Microbiology, Freshwater Microbiology and will soon offer a course on Biology and Conservation of Freshwater Fishes.  Her current research addresses questions regarding microbial community structure and functional redundancy in lakes of very different water chemistries.   Laura has sat on numerous University committees, and COLT (2014) is her first foray into community service.  The Central Okanagan Land Trust’s mission resonates with Laura’s philosophy that natural places have a right to simply ‘be’ and that our world is enriched by this; further value is not necessarily required.  Laura’s recreational activities include skiing (alpine and nordic), mountain biking, swimming and simply hiking around with her dog Mia, Queen of the Shibas.

Wayne Wilson – Executive Director

Wayne Wilson began with the Central Okanagan Land Trust in 2012 and brings a keen understanding of the region’s non-profit setting. His background in geography, landscape and cultural heritage values are ideally suited to the work of the Land Trust.Wayne served as the Executive Director of the Kelowna Museums Society from 2000 – 2012. He began work with the Kelowna Museum in 1978 and since then has worked in the various capacities including Exhibitions Co-ordinator, Museum Education, Assistant Director, and has curated dozens of exhibitions and public programming series. Since his 2000 appointment, in addition to managing the day-to-day operations of the Society, Wayne has focused on the development and implementation of Business and Budget Planning for the Society and its various profit centres, all with a goal of moving the organization more toward a sustainable business model.Wayne holds a B.A. from the University of British Columbia and an M.A. in Historical Geography (U. B. C.) where his thesis, Irrigating the Okanagan: 1860 – 1920, explored the ‘greening of the Okanagan Valley’ as it were. Wayne taught at Okanagan University College for ten years in the Geography Faculty where he headed up courses in the Regional Geography of Canada, Regional Geography of British Columbia, and the Historical Geography of British Columbia.

Gordon Savage – President

Gordon was born and raised in Burnaby, BC, and graduated from Kelowna Secondary School before going on to earn a Diploma in Civil Engineering Technology from BCIT in 1974. He worked for much of his career with the consulting firm, Reid Crowther before forming his own company (CTQ Consultants) in 2003.
An active Rotarian and past President of the Rotary Club of Kelowna, Gord and his wife are active outdoors people pursuing everything from canoeing and kayaking to hiking, skiing and camping. It is these very outdoor activities that give Gord a keen interest in the environment and the sustainability of our fragile habitats and at-risk species.

Bill De Bosch Kemper – Treasurer

My wife, Bet, and I moved from Victoria to the Okanagan in 1978, with our two young sons. We loved the semi-arid lands, the forests, and the mountains of the area and whenever time permitted we explored the many backroads, trails, lakes, and rivers in the region. Outdoors activities such as hiking, fishing, birding, cross-country skiing, and canoeing have been hugely important to our family.

I received a PhD in Psychology from the University of Victoria and worked as a clinical psychologist at Kelowna General Hospital (1978-1993) and in Private Practice. I retired from my private practice in 2014. I served on a number of Boards of professional and other non-profit organizations throughout my working life, but COLT represents my first foray into the world of conservation and land trusts. I joined COLT in early 2016

Tanis Gieselman – Vice President

Tanis Gieselman moved to the Okanagan in 1989, where she grew up falling in love with the West Kelowna wilderness. She particularly enjoys botanizing, snowshoeing, cycling, hiking, and camping. After completing a BSc. in Ecology at Okanagan University College in 2005, she became especially aware of conservation issues in the Okanagan, and began studying seed-saving technologies as a means for conserving native biodiversity outside of parks and protected areas.

In 2008 she moved to Vancouver to complete an MSc. at UBC. Her research investigated the impact of various types of human development on the edges of remaining grasslands, and demonstrated that the edges of Okanagan grasslands become degraded on average 30 m from the edge of roads and agricultural fields. She hopes to her research will compel others account for these impacts when planning for protected areas, and plant more native species to reduce the impact of development. After her MSc., Tanis stayed in Vancouver for five years to be a science educator at UBC’s Beaty Biodiversity Musuem, while continuing to develop her seed-saving strategy in Kelowna. She returned to Kelowna in 2015 to work with the Okanagan Collaborative Conservation Program (OCCP) as the Projects Coordinator. She feels very privileged to have been given the opportunity to be a part of the COLT team.