Meet Pascale Campagna-Slater, Education Program Coordinator

Pascale has joined the Raincoast team to lead our Education Program, which aims to inspire, prepare, and empower the next generation of leaders.

After our Education Program Coordinator, Maureen Vo, left on maternity leave, we hired Asta Mail to take over our education program. One year later, Asta has taken her own maternity leave, and we are excited that Pascale Campagna-Slater joined our team this spring! Pascale has a Masters of Marine Science and Management and has worked as an educator and coordinator in multiple classroom, outdoor, and online youth programs. We posed some questions to Pascale to get to know her better. 

We would love to hear more about the masters program you did in Australia! 

After completing a Bachelor of Science in Biology, I knew I wanted to focus on marine biology, and was interested in completing a Masters. However, I wasn’t sure I saw myself doing a career in research. I was interested in conservation and policy, so I decided to look for a Master’s program by coursework. There were not many options in Canada at the time, especially in marine biology, but fortunately my parents were very supportive and encouraged me to go abroad. That is how I ended up in Australia doing a Masters of Marine Science and Management. As part of the program, I did a research project on designing marine protected areas to protect coral reefs. 

What was one of the coolest things you saw in Australia?

Australia is an incredible place to explore for someone interested in marine biology and wildlife! From kangaroos to migrating humpback whales – and even a wild koala – I had plenty of interesting wildlife sightings. But the highlights all come from scuba diving. Sea turtles, stingrays, giant groupers, parrotfish, wobbegong sharks. My favourite species to see was the grey nurse shark. Seeing these 8 foot long sharks calmly cruise right by us made me truly appreciate the beauty and importance of sharks.

All these wildlife encounters didn’t leave me completely unscathed though: I got stung by a jellyfish.

Can you tell us about your experience in education?

Science education started for me as a simple summer job during university, when I worked in summer camps at the Canada Science and Technology Museum. It turned out to be something I really enjoyed. This was a bit of a surprise for me; in school, I always dreaded public speaking. What I came to realize is that I enjoy it so much more when I get to talk and teach about something I’m passionate about. A few years later, this proved very true when I started working as a naturalist on whale watching boats in Vancouver. That brought me back to education following my studies, and I have since made it my career. My work as an educator and program coordinator has focused on the environment, the ocean and sciences. I’ve had the opportunity to teach in a wide range of settings, from outdoors, to classrooms, and online. 

What drew you to working at Raincoast?

I had followed Raincoast online and on social media for a few years, and had been really interested in the organization’s work, especially how Raincoast leads its own scientific research to support conservation and advocacy work, which is really unique amongst environmental non-profits. As I developed an interest in wildlife photography while working as a naturalist, I also started to see the way photography can be used in educating and inspiring the public to protect nature, which I think is something that Raincoast does well while having a strong commitment to ethics.

Pascale as a young girl with a frog in a net.
Pascale Campagna-Slater in 1996.

Earlier this year, after over a year of working from home and teaching exclusively online during COVID, I started itching for a change and a desire to return to in-person teaching and to environmental and ocean education. That is when the position of Education Coordinator became available. From what I knew of the Salish Sea Emerging Stewards program, it seemed like an incredible and important experiential education program and was in line with my long-term career goals of teaching about the environment and inspiring conservation action. With in-person, outdoor and online education, along with work on Raincoast’s research and education vessel, Achiever, this program truly combines all of my skills and passions, and I am so grateful and excited for this opportunity.

On a personal level, why is this work important to you? 

Living in Australia allowed me to learn, experience, and truly immerse myself in the marine environment, even outside of my studies. Having grown up far from the ocean, this turned out to be incredibly formative. When I moved to Vancouver to work as a whale watching guide, I got to learn about my new home, the Salish Sea, in an experiential way. This is why I think the Salish Sea Emerging Stewards program is so innovative and important. Formal education is not the only way to learn, and being able to see and experience this environment cannot be replaced by school and books. 

Being able to take youth out on Achiever to spend 5 days sailing and exploring the Salish Sea is an incredible way to teach about the environment and conservation, and to help them form a deeper connection to place. Having first hand experience, I know the value of truly being immersed in the marine environment in order to discover, learn, connect and ultimately protect these incredible ecosystems, and I know it works.

You can help

Raincoast’s in-house scientists, collaborating graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and professors make us unique among conservation groups. We work with First Nations, academic institutions, government, and other NGOs to build support and inform decisions that protect aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, and the wildlife that depend on them. We conduct ethically applied, process-oriented, and hypothesis-driven research that has immediate and relevant utility for conservation deliberations and the collective body of scientific knowledge.

We investigate to understand coastal species and processes. We inform by bringing science to decision-makers and communities. We inspire action to protect wildlife and wildlife habitats.

Coastal wolf with a salmon in its month.
Photo by Dene Rossouw.