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ACAP Staff 

Kathleen Aikens, Executive Director 

Kathleen has a deep abiding love for jumping spiders, along with most other creepy-crawlies. Kathleen began working as ACAP Cape Breton’s Executive Director in May 2021. She holds a PhD in interdisciplinary environment & sustainability studies, a MSc in Natural Resource Sciences, and a BSc Biology (from Cape Breton University). Raised in Cape Breton, Kathleen has lived in six of the ten Canadian provinces, as well as Australia and Bhutan. 


Kathleen loves exploring the forest, particularly with children (often her own). She enjoys work that allows her to collaborate with others and solve complex, pernicious, or challenging problems. 


Neila Buchanan, Finance Administrator

Neila Buchanan joined ACAP Cape Breton in October of 2006 as ACAP Cape Breton’s Finance Administrator.

Neila is responsible for all accounts receivable, accounts payable, and of course payroll.

Her work experience includes 28 years in the banking industry along with her educational background.


These attributes have made Neila an organized and dependable employee. Neila has a true passion for the environment and has been adopting environmentally friendly practices for as long as she can remember.


Jen Cooper, Habitat Restoration Manager

Jen has a bachelor’s degree in biology and graduate certification in ecosystem restoration. She is certified in CABIN, permaculture design, watercourse alteration installation, OBBN, OSAP, and a variety of related training that weaves in through her approach to habitat restoration. She is fascinated with re-establishing our place in nature and helping humans step down from the colonial notion that we are entitled to the land. She invites us to enter back into our natural place within our local ecosystems through the various projects she works on with ACAP. 

Jen is happiest when she’s boots deep in a stream, up to her elbows in soil, or when a classroom or community group comes alive because she’s taken them deep into the layers of an ecosystem, like a forest, river, or even their own garden. Delighting in anarchy, she transcends borders by using imagination to stimulate ecological understanding, and deep science to inspire wonder and art.

As a scientist and artist, Jen’s mission is to zoom in on existing natural beauty in a way that pulls the viewer through a microscope to achieve a sense of wonder, exposing a cross section of the world they hadn’t known existed. She believes that with understanding comes stewardship. 


Meaghan Fortune, Ecological Monitoring Team Lead

Meaghan has a Bachelor’s degree in Biology from Cape Breton University.

She has a passion for all things nature. Some of her interests include marine life, being out in the forest, and she is developing a love for plants and gardening.

She has a caring and friendly personality and feels most at peace when she is out in nature, whether it’s spending a day in the forest listening to the birds and studying the plants and trees or sitting in the water getting to know the aquatic animals.

Meaghan also has a deep love for all animals, having three dogs of her own. She believes that we need to take care of our environment not only for the humans, but for all animals too. She works hard every day to be environmentally friendly by taking care of our ecosystems and educating others on the importance of caring for our beautiful earth.

In her spare time Meaghan enjoys creating beach glass art, photography, and exploring our beautiful island.


Ally Chant, Trashformers Coordinator and Education Team Lead

Ally holds a Bachelor of Science with a double major in psychology and music from Dalhousie University. An avid hiker, camper, and skier, Ally prefers to be outdoors especially with her best pal Sophie, the yellow lab. Her favourite places in Cape Breton are around the Bras d’Or Lake in Ben Eoin and Big Pond.


Ally splits her time equally between hanging out in the woods, and investigating the floor of the Bras d'Or Lake. She is a hobby gardener, and lover of all animals: she was rescued by two cats and a dog,  When she must be indoors, you'll never catch her without a cup of tea in hand. She enjoys playing piano and clarinet, collecting books, reading, and knitting blankets for all her pals.

Working hard everyday to be a steward for the environment Ally is incredibly passionate about educating those around her. She works very hard to be as environmentally friendly as she can be, including regular beach cleanups and engaging with the public doing coffee houses and table discussions. 

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Morgan Campbell, Habitat Restoration Technician


Meet Morgan, our Habitat Restoration Technician. Morgan is a Natural Resources graduate, a former Trashformer, and an avid tree hugger. He spent half his life in the backcountry of Chezzetcook before moving to Whitney Pier.


When not on the trails, you can find him around a campfire with good friends. Just don’t get him talking about trees, he could go on for hours. He has an eagerness to learn about the natural world and is always looking for new ways to help improve it.


Morgan is our chainsaw operator and resident forester. On the habitat restoration team he carves digger logs and covered bank structures for brook trout habitat restoration projects.


Shauntel Kelly, Ecological Monitoring Technician

Shauntel graduated from Dalhousie University with a Bachelor of Engineering in 2019. She has one cat, Stripes, and a grumpy 12 year old peagle named Snickers. 

She loves to spend time in the forest, and has already shared a copious amount of knowledge with the other staff. 


Julia Cameron, Ecological Technician

Jules has a BSc. Double Major in Biology and Psychology from Cape Breton University, and is currently undertaking a graduate thesis in Environmental Studies from Dalhousie University. She has a strong passion for wildlife - especially birds, and enjoys birding throughout Cape Breton (Unama'ki). Her career goal is to be a conservation biologist, focusing on the habitat management of species-at-risk.


Her work as ACAP's Ecological Technician focuses on ecological management and mapping areas of concern with GIS.


Jules likes to read, play video games, and take nature walks in her spare time, and has a passion for photography. She is also a local musician and plays in a hardcore band. Jules has two kitties named Winston and Kiki, and is an aquarium owner with several fish and snails.


Rebecca Gillis, Public Engagement in Science Intern

Rebecca is from Lingan and has recently finished her Bachelor of Science, majoring in biology from CBU. Rebecca loves all things outdoors, especially when she can adventure with her family, friends and fellow ACAP staff. 


Rebecca loves animals and will never miss out on the opportunity to point out cows in a field or a dog walking down the street. She also loves hanging out at the barn with her horse Barbie.  


Rebecca has a big heart and an easy going personality. She loves to have fun, laugh, and meet new people. Rebecca loves to collaborate and learn from others. She hopes to continue to learn and grow while working at ACAP while making our world a cleaner, greener place.

Monica Ragan, Community-Engaged Research Intern


Monica is from Whycocomagh and joined ACAP in January 2022. She graduated from Dalhousie University with a Master in Environmental Studies with her thesis exploring small craft harbours in Nova Scotia and livelihoods. Her research interests include the intersection of environment, community, and policy. Monica is passionate about aquatic issues and learning from community members about viable environmental solutions. 


In her spare time you can find Monica watching football, playing video games, or hanging out with her fur babies!

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Rachel Clarke, Ecological Monitoring Intern

Rachel has a BSc and an MSc degree, both in Environmental Science, from Acadia University. Rachel has worked as an intern at ACAP Cape Breton prior to attending university, and is excited to be back with ACAP as of January 2022 as an Ecological Monitoring Intern!


Rachel is passionate about working outdoors and understanding environmental concepts through firsthand experience. In her free time, Rachel can be found reading, making artwork, playing video games, walking and exploring outside, and hanging out with her beloved cat, Yogi. 

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