Meet our 2016 GO!Team
From music videos to documentaries to interpretive dances, these young leaders are as creative as they are passionate about the environment!
Abby Benwood is a 13 year old girl from Calgary, Alberta with a strong passion for nature photography. She has taken her talent and used it to inspire kids with the get to know wildlife program as a youth ambassador. In 2013 she entered the get to know contest and won the first place prize for Calgary, then proceeded to become a presenter at the 2014 international Unconference. She has always had a love for the outdoors, and wanted to make a difference on our world’s impact on the environment in a positive way. Photography has become a major part of her life and the past two years have inspired her to take her passion to new places. Being a part of the GO! Team is a great opportunity to use her skills to help the environment and get people to go outdoors and have some adventures! Her favourite things to photograph are macro flowers, and close-ups of wild life. She also enjoys landscapes of the Rocky Mountains.
Born in Saskatchewan and raised in Alberta, Joel Agarwal has developed a passion for Nature Photography. He finds great joy photographing the beautiful landscapes and wildlife of Western Canada during the day, and the stars during the night. Joel studies Biology at the University of Alberta and has always had a love for the natural world, combining biology, fine arts and photography. Joel was a speaker at the 2015 International Get to Know Unconference held in Calgary, Alberta. His passion for astrophotography has driven him to raise awareness for the issue of light pollution and its detrimental effects on the environment and organisms, which was the topic of the presentation at this conference. In Canada he has won several photography contests including the 2014 and 2015 Get to Know contest, where his photo was chosen to be on the cover of the 2015 calendar. He has multiple photos shown on Google Earth's image gallery, and his photos have been featured at the Hire Grounds Cafe as well as the Penrith Regional Gallery & Lewers Bequest in Australia. His hope is that his photography inspires others to see the world through different lenses and to realize just how fortunate we are to live in such a gorgeous world, and as well to shed light on the environmental problems that we face today.
Laura Makaltses is a young photographer who has a passion for environmental sustainability. She has been involved with Get To Know for since 2013, participating in events and contests. She loves being outdoors and exploring new environments. She has grown up making annual visits to local conservation areas and zoos. This sparked her love of nature and showed her the importance of preserving biodiversity in the world. Photography has always been a lifelong passion of hers. She has participated in many gallery shows and won several awards and publications. Her wildlife and nature photography has been recognized for its beauty and expression. Birds and apes are two of her favourite subjects to capture. She is currently attending a post-secondary school to get her BFA in photography. It is her lifelong dream to work for a magazine like National Geographic and travel the world capturing images that showcase the changes in the environment and the important information science is revealing.
Kiana Rose is a 16 year old birder, photographer, artist, and homeschool student from Washington State. She has been involved with Get to Know since 2012, when her winning photo entry earned a trip to Point Pelee National Park. In 2013 and 2015 she won the contest again, and in 2015 was also selected to be a presenter in the art walk at the International Unconference. Kiana has had a passion for birds since the age of nine. She is an experienced bird identifier - familiar with the sight as well as the sounds of numerous birds. Kiana has kept daily bird journals for almost six years, and has patiently observed over a dozen bird nests in her own backyard. Lately, she has become involved as a summer camp counselor at the Audubon Society of Portland, where she will share her love of birds and nature with children. Kiana was also recently selected as a semi-finalist in the National Audubon Society’s 2016 Photo Awards. Kiana is excited to be a part of the Go! Team and is eager to inspire others to a deeper appreciation and respect for the natural world.
Rina Ng has had a strong passion for the arts and the natural world ever since she could remember. She has been involved with Get to Know, participating in its annual contests and attending events, since 2012. In 2013 she wrote a winning poem and later became involved in the 2014 Get to Know Unconference as a youth presenter, in Kelowna B.C. It was there that she became inspired to share her passion with other youth and promote environmental awareness. Her presentation focused on nature deficit disorder which has become increasingly common due to the rise in availability of modern day technologies. In 2015, she brought back this topic as an art walk presenter in the 2015 Get to Know Unconference hosted in Calgary, Alberta, her hometown. She is currently attending high school and her favourite subjects include Art, Biology, English, and Environmental Sciences. Rina dreams of a world where advancements that humanity have made will one day go hand in hand with the natural world, but for now, as a youth ambassador part of the Go! Team, she hopes to inspire as many youth as possible to get outdoors and appreciate the environment, capturing the moment through the arts.
Growing up in Calgary Alberta, 17 year-old Rachel Hughes has enjoyed hiking in the Rocky Mountains from a young age and has always been captivated by the beauty of the landscapes that surround her. Using photography to capture the charm of western Canada’s wilderness has been a lifelong passion of hers. Hughes became involved with the Get to Know program in 2012 and had the honour of presenting at the 2015 Get to Know Unconference. Her photographs have been featured in the 2015 City of Calgary Parks calendar and Voices Magazine and have been published online. She is excited to be able to share her passion for environmental conservation with like-minded youth as a member of the Go! Team.
Katie Fitzgerald is a grade 12 student. She works as a lifeguard and has volunteered over 200 hours in the last year while participating in senior level high school sports and maintaining honors in her academic pursuits. She is the proud recipient of the Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award, Stars of Albert Youth Award, United Nations International Women’s Day Award and the Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award. She believes that for a community, a city and a country to grow, the youth of today must get involved, and involved she is! A founding member of SOARING, (Stand Out and Represent, Inspiring the Now Generation) a St. Alberta based youth group which focuses on creating opportunities for youth to volunteer. Katie’s commitment is not limited to her local community, her desire to improve the lives of others had her travelling to India this past summer to volunteer for a month. As a visual artist and musician Katie is passionate about encouraging youth to explore and expand their hidden talents. She is a returning youth ambassador for the Get to Know program and was delighted to be selected as a presenter at the 2014 Unconference in Kelowna, B.C. Twice she was nominated for the St. Albert Mayor’s Celebration of the Arts “Youth Artist” Award and recently received the Scotiabank Bright Future Award. Environmental concerns are a priority to Katie, she is involved with several environmental programs such as the Annual City wide Clean up event, Clean up the Sturgeon River project, Partner in the Parks program and the River Edge Enhancement project. Her desire to protect while encouraging youth to develop a deeper connection and appreciation of their natural environmental makes her continued commitment with the Get to Know program an natural fit.