Tom Dickinson (he/him) joined Shad in 2023 as the first director of Thompson Rivers University’s Shad campus in Kamloops, British Columbia. He grew up in Toronto in the days before Shad but represented his high school at both athletic and community leadership camps, and understands the value that the Shad experience can have for young people. He attended Queen’s University for an undergraduate degree in biology and obtained an MSc (University of Calgary) and a PhD (University of Pennsylvania). His research has focused on how animals communicate with each other, and his passion lies in conserving wild places for wildlife.
Tom’s career has been focused for 33 years at Thompson Rivers University where he taught courses in Ecology, Animal Behaviour, and Conservation Biology. Over his career he helped build the university’s capacity for research and provided leadership as the Dean for the Faculty of Science for 11 years. Tom’s commitment to outdoor education and wildlife biology led him (along with others) to build TRU’s Wells Gray Education and Research Centre. The facility adjacent to Wells Gray Provincial Park will be a focus of TRU’s Shad campus.
Tom enjoys all aspects of natural history but is an accomplished birdwatcher. His career has taken him around the world and wherever he travels he enjoys learning about local culture. He believes strongly in the importance of community service and is very active in his Rotary club in Kamloops and with many other organizations that support the community’s needs.
Vanessa (she/her) began her journey with Shad in 2007 at McMaster, where she was a Shad herself. In 2015, Vanessa returned to Shad as a Teacher Fellow at the University of Saskatchewan, before taking on the role of Program Manager and eventually Assistant Program Director at the U of S between 2016 and 2019. In 2021, Vanessa did Shad online with Carleton University, before having the opportunity to experience Carleton’s in-person program in 2022. Vanessa is thrilled to now join the Thompson Rivers University team for their inaugural year and welcome them to the Shad family!
Vanessa completed a Bachelor of Arts at Mount Allison University in 2012. From there, she completed a Bachelor of Education at St Francis Xavier University in 2014, where she was selected as a member of the President’s Circle of Young Alumni. Vanessa is now a French Immersion Teacher in Regina, Saskatchewan. Outside of teaching, Vanessa can be found directing musical theater, coaching her school’s junior badminton team, or leading youth leadership opportunities and school-based Truth and Reconciliation initiatives.