Board of Directors

The Milk River Watershed Council Canada consists of 19 Directors.  Directors are elected for a two-year term by the membership.  Members are encouraged to seek election to the Board of Directors within his or her membership category.

Milk River Watershed Council Canada Board of Directors 2014/2015

2013warren.jpgWarren Cunningham - Appointed Member at Large (Special Assignment) - Secretary

Warren was born in High River and grew up in Calgary and Sherwood Park. He has a diploma in Soil and Water Technology and a Bachelor's degree in Agriculture (Soils and Plant Pathology major). Warren has been actively involved in the 4-H program for 17 years. He was also a member of the Southern Alberta Outdoorsman Association as an environmental and promotional chairperson. Warren was also a councilor for the County of Warner. Warren has spent the last 30+ years ranching and grass seed farming along the Milk River. He has been a MRWCC board member since its inception in 2006 and is currently serving as the Secretary on the Executive.

Joan-Hughson.jpgJoan Hughson – County/Municipal District

Joan was born and raised just outside of Calgary on a farm. She moved south of Foremost in 1964 when she was married to Darrell Hughson. She still farms and ranches with her two sons and their families. She has been an active Councilor with the County of Forty Mile since October 2008. Joan has been a member on the MRWCC board of Directors since 2009.

Scott McGarty - Industry

Scott is the Pipeline and Facilities Construction Manager for Granite Oil Corporation. Granite Oil and its predecessor DeeThree Exploration has been a proud member of the Milk River Community for the last seven years. Granite Oil Corp. is a Dividend paying and publicly traded Canada-based oil producer based in Calgary, Alberta with lands and operations located in southern Alberta. The Company is engaged in the exploration for and exploitation, development and production of oil and natural gas. Scott is formerly the Director of Industrial Services with Ledcor Group and brings a wealth of industry knowledge to the Milk River Watershed council. Scott holds a BA Degree from the University of Alberta and has a keen interest in Environmental resource issues and in particular the Milk River Watershed.

Ken-Miller.jpgKen Miller – Agriculture – Farmer, Vice Chairman

Ken was born and raised near Milk River and is a 3rd generation farmer. Ken attended school in Milk River and completed his degree at the University of Alberta. He is actively involved in the National Board for the Canadian Seed Trade Association, in various school organizations, and is a member of the Recovery Team for Species at Risk. Ken was a member of the Local Advisory Board for storage on the Milk River. He is an active participant on the Montana-Alberta Water Management Initiative. Ken has been a MRWCC board member since its inception in 2006 and has served as a Vice Chairman on the Executive. He is the Chairman of the Water Supply and Management Team and was also the Chairman on the Integrated Watershed Planning Team which was finalized in 2015.

2013Brian_0.jpgBrian Hills – Provincial Government

Brian was born in Regina, Saskatchewan, but has lived in Alberta since the age of 6 and has lived in Lethbridge since 1991. Brian has a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science from the University of Lethbridge and a Diploma in Environmental Science from Lethbridge College. Currently he is a Resource Manager for the Southern Saskatchewan Region of Alberta Environment and Parks. Brian has been involved with the MRWCC through participation on the State of the Watershed team, the pilot Milk River Water Use Metering project and supervises staff who are members of the Research and Monitoring team.

2013Roy.jpgRoy Audet - Individual

Roy and his wife Christy live and ranch east of Writing on Stone Provincial Park on his family’s historic homestead.  Roy runs livestock on approximately 1500 acres of tame grass, 150 acres of irrigation and crop land and 3000 acres of native grasslands on both sides of the Milk River. During the early 90’s, Roy and Christy converted their mixed farming operation into a strictly livestock operation. Roy has worked hard to maintain and improve soil and grassland fertility on his operation, established forages, reduced winter feeding reliance, managed salinity concerns, rotationally grazed and deferred native grassland. Roy works hard to maintain his cottonwoods and riparian plant communities along the Milk River. Roy has worked with the Milk River Ranchers, Cows and Fish, and others to protect trees and willows from not only livestock but wildlife. Roy is an active member of the community and been involved with the MRWCC in the past as a steering committee member and has assisted and provided feedback on a number of committees and projects including the Rocky Mountain Sculpin Recovery Strategy in 2012.  Roy and Christy are also currently working with the Alberta Conservancy to plan for the future of their land.

John-Ross.jpgJohn Ross – Agriculture – Rancher, Chairman

John was raised on the family ranch east of Milk River and is a 4th generation cattle rancher. He earned his pilot's license in 1978 and is also an advanced scuba diver. John attended SAIT and received a diploma in Architectural Technology. He returned home and has ranched full-time ever since and has been involved in many local initiatives including being the Deputy Chief of the Aden Volunteer Fire Department. He is also active as Director of EQUS Rural Electrification Association which is the largest member owned utility company in Canada. John was a member of the interim Steering Committee for the Milk River Watershed Council Canada, and has been a member of the MRWCC Board of Directors since its inception in 2006 and currently serving as the Chairman.

Will-Lindeman.jpgDr. William Lindeman – Water User, Treasurer

Will was raised on a farm southwest of Milk River. He has a bachelor’s degree in Agriculture and a Doctorate degree in veterinary medicine. He married LaRae and set up his practice west of Milk River. Will and his wife LaRae have three daughters. He retired from his practice several years ago and continues to ranch southwest of Milk River. Will is a member of the Milk River West Water Co-op. In his spare time, Will likes to spend time canoeing on the Milk River and on other rivers in southern Alberta and elsewhere. Will has been a member of the MRWCC Board of Directors since 2010 and currently serves on the Executive committee as the Treasurer. He is also the Chairman on the Research and Monitoring Team.

Darcy-Wills.jpgDarcy Wills - Recreation

Darcy was born and raised in the Taber area, and owned and operated a mixed irrigated grain and cattle operation there until 1991. For the past 20 years he has owned and operated a ranch on the Northern slope of the Sweetgrass Hills along the Alberta-Montana border. Being right on the border gives him a unique perspective on the international nature of the Milk River Watershed. One of his interests is the recharge area of the Milk River aquifer and the relationship of the aquifers and surface water. Since moving to the area, Darcy has been involved with many different organizations such as Western Stock Growers, Alberta Grazing Leaseholder's Association, and Alberta Fish and Game Association on a provincial basis, and Milk River East Water Coop, and Southern Alberta Outdoorsmen at the local level. He has a strong understanding of both the business and recreation aspects of the area. He can see in the future that we need to deal with issues of landowner rights and recreational access to the Milk River and all water resources in the watershed. Darcy had been a member of the MRWCC Board of Directors since April 2011.

Ed-Sloboda.jpgEd Sloboda - Non-Government Organization (General)

Ed Sloboda has spent his entire life within 9 miles of the Milk River and has always been interested in archaeology. Ed has worked with the Royal Tyrrell Museum since 1987 on various projects in Milk River from the west end just inside the U.S. side to the east end to where the river runs into the U.S. Ed was also the environmental representative on the Twin River Special Places 2000. He has been a MRWCC board member since 2010. Ed is currently the chairman of the Community Awareness and Involvement Team.

Ross Ford - County/Municipal DistrictRoss_Ford_-_Website.jpg

Ross grew up on his family’s farm east of Coutts along the Alberta/Montana border. He received his primary education in Coutts & Milk River, received a diploma in Vocational Agriculture from Lethbridge College, and has taken several courses in leadership & management. He worked for several years in the Ag service industry as a licensed Heavy Duty & Motor mechanic, and in 1989 began farming full time by purchasing some land and taking over the family farm with his brother.  He first became involved with board governance through Agricultural Co-ops; Alberta Wheat Pool, Agricore United, & United Farmers of Alberta, serving as an elected member representative.  He has also served on several community boards, was Mayor of the Village of Coutts, and is the current Reeve of the County of Warner. Through all of his experiences he has learned much about governance & how it impacts the success of an organization or community. Ross has served on the Milk River Watershed Council since it began in 2006. He supports Alberta’s Water for Life Strategy and is a strong advocate for water storage and the benefits it brings to communities. Today he continues farming with his wife of 35 years, Jackie. They have one daughter Katie, son-in-law Eric, & granddaughter Scarlett.

Dr. Benjamin H. Ellert - Federal GovernmentEllert_Ben_2015_(5L6A6725).jpg

Dr. Benjamin H. Ellert is a Research Scientist in Biogeochemistry with the Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Research Centre in Lethbridge, Alberta.  He studies carbon and nitrogen cycling in both cropland and rangeland ecosystems.  He has expertise in quantifying soil carbon and nitrogen stocks, in investigating greenhouse gas emissions from soils, and in applying isotopic techniques to study the biogeochemistry of agricultural systems.  He obtained a Ph. D. in Soil Science from the University of Saskatchewan, and was raised on a small mixed farm near Milk River

Kristen Dykstra – HealthKristen_Dykstra_-_Website.jpg

Kristen was born in North Battleford, Saskatchewan, and was raised in a small village in the surrounding rural area. After attending the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon and obtaining a Bachelor of Science in Microbiology, she moved to Edmonton where she attended Concordia University and obtained an After-Degree in Environmental Public Health. Kristen worked in Medicine Hat as a Public Health Inspector for Alberta Health Services for over 6 years, before recently relocating to Lethbridge. She is the covering Public Health Inspector for the County of Warner, as well as Magrath and Del Bonita. She is a member of the Canadian Institute of Public Health Inspectors. In her spare time, Kristen enjoys outdoor activities such as running, hiking, and kayaking. She views participation in the Milk River Watershed Council as being an excellent opportunity to learn more about the geography of the area and meet members of the communities.

Dennis Spackman - Provincial GovernmentDennis_Spackman_-_Website.jpg

Dennis grew up in a farming and ranching family east of Stirling. During his mid-teens, the family moved to Lethbridge where he continued his schooling. After high school, Dennis attended Lethbridge College and completed three diploma programs in General Natural Resource Management, Parks Management and Watershed Management. After college, he attended the University of Lethbridge and obtained a Bachelor of Arts and Sciences in Physical Geography and Biology. Dennis has many years experience around drinking water systems operated in Parks and he is certified by Alberta Environment for the operation of water treatment plants and water distribution systems. He has been employed by Alberta Parks as a Conservation Officer since 1982. Most of his career was spent working in the Boreal Forest Ecoregion in the Fort McMurray area. He also worked in the Pincher Creek area for about two years before transferring to Writing On Stone Provincial Park in February of 2013. A couple of notable achievements include involvement with the designation of the Clearwater River as a Canadian Heritage River and many years up north as a volunteer firefighter. His hobbies include travel, hiking, camping, reading and photography.

William King - Appointed Member at Large (Special Assignment)William_King_-_Website.jpg

William's Grandfather came to Aden area before Alberta was a province 5 generations ago. William was born on the road from Aden, along Deer Creek. He started farming and ranching in 1965 until 2011 when he moved into the town of Milk River. William has been a member of numerous groups such as local Fish and Game Club since it's inception and has received a lifetime membership award for over 40 years of service; the Grain Agricultural Society (founding member) in 1973 where he served as president 3 times over the years; Border Surface Rights in 1981 (founding member); Aden volunteer Fire Department for 20 years. William helped with the compilation of the Milk River Natural Areas and Kennedy Coulee Ecological Reserve Management Plan which commenced in 1990 to present time. He is also a member of the Wildlife and Nature Photography Club. Some of William's photographs are featured in the 2nd Edition Milk River Transboundary State of the Watershed Report. William loves the area and is eager to bring a wealth of knowledge and history of the East Milk River area to the board.

Ron McNeil - Non-Government Organization (Environmental)Ron_McNeil_-_Website.jpg

Ron is a soil and land resource scientist and president of LandWise Inc., located in Lethbridge.  Ron’s formal education was Land Resources at Olds College and Physical Geography at the University of British Columbia.  Ron mainly specializes in natural resource inventories, ecological land classification, soil survey and interpretative products from inventories. Ron has lived and worked in the Counties of Warner, Forty Mile, and Cypress. Ron was instrumental in developing the link of soils and ecological range sites to native plant communities, which has been valuable for habitat management and species at risk.  Ron was an external scientific advisor for the Grassland Vegetation Inventory (GVI).  He has developed and provided many environmental training programs, including GVI certification, the use of resource inventory products, field tours, reclamation assessments, and prairie restoration.  Ron also helped develop the 2010 reclamation criteria for native grasslands and cultivated lands in Alberta.

Ron is a Director on the Board of the Prairie Conservation Forum and both transboundary and prairie connectivity issues are his main interests.  Ron also farms 1000 acres of black soils near Benalto, located west of Red Deer.

Trevor Murray - Industry (Alternate)Trevor_Murray_-_Website.jpg

Trevor has close to 15 years of experience in land administration, surface, contracts, and negotiation. He is a member of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Landmen and has held numerous senior positions with leading energy companies like Cyries Energy Inc., PrimeWest Energy Trust, Calpine Canada and Encal Energy Ltd. Trevor holds a B.Comm. in Petroleum Land Management from the University of Calgary. He is married with 3 children. Trevor was born in Calgary, Alberta, where he resides today.

Suzanne Liebelt - Town/Urban MunicipalitySuzanne_Liebelt.jpg

Suzanne was born and raised in Lethbridge Alberta. In 1991 she moved to Milk River where she got married and has since raised 2 boys. Suzanne along with her husband have owned a business and been active members of the Milk River Community Business Association since 2005. Suzanne was elected to town council for Milk River in October 2013, and has been the town representative on the Milk River Watershed Council for that period. It has been a very interesting and informative committee to be a part of.  She looks forward to learning more about the watershed and how it affects and is affected by our community. 

Lloyd Closson - Urban Municipality (Alternate)

Village of Coutts Councilor.

Dr. Lorraine Nicol - AcademiaLorraine-website.jpg

Dr. Lorraine Nicol originates from tiny Marquis, Saskatchewan where she grew up on a grain and cattle farm. She holds a Doctorate in Biosystems and Biodiversity, a Master’s Degree in Agriculture, and a Master’s Degree in Economics.  She has worked for a diverse number of federal and provincial government departments including the Economic Council of Canada, Human Resources Development Canada, Saskatchewan Finance, and the Saskatchewan Public Service Commission.  She and her husband Chris and their three children moved to Lethbridge in 2001.  At that time Dr. Nicol developed an interest in water resources policy and management in Alberta and has worked in this field ever since. A significant amount of her research has focussed on studying irrigation water management. The Nicol family has a passion for competitive swimming with Dr. Nicol playing a voluntary role as president and board member of the L.A. Swim Club for many years.  She continues to volunteer as a qualified swim official at swim competitions.

Vacant - First Nations