Fungus Fest Presenters

Ali Ballantyne

Ali is the founder of Foraged Products and Services, a proud middle school teacher in Duncan, and the new librarian for the South Vancouver Island Mycological Society. After being introduced to mycology through her Forestry degree at UBC and summers spent participating in the wild mushroom industry in British Columbia, her life has been immersed in this fascinating kingdom ever since. Ali has worked at commercial mushroom farms on the lower mainland, as a wild mushroom guide, as a professional forager, and in land management of non-timber resources. She is passionate about fungi and their role in shaping our ecosystem and societies and loves researching creative ways people have worked with fungi to help solve the problems of today.

Dr. Kent Brothers

Kent is an amateur mycologist who has had a keen interest in biodiversity in general and macrofungi in particular for nearly 20 years, not only in the Pacific Northwest but also in the neotropics.  Through guided walks in forests he enjoys sharing knowledge of the extensive diversity of fungi in ecosystems and the valuable roles that they play in the environment.  He is a member and past president of the Vancouver Mycological Society, served on the advisory board of EFlora BC in respect of fungi, and is a member of the Pacific Northwest Key Council that develops identification guides for fungi in the PNW.  He participated in and prepared the final report for a 5-year inventory of fungi in Manning Park (640 species and has for several years been working on a comprehensive list of the several thousand fungi reported to occur in the province of BC.

Dawn Copeman

Dawn is an avid forest explorer, community historian, artist, photographer and ‘naturalist in residence’ for the Cumberland Community Forest Society with a passion for the wild side of the forest including the incredible worlds of slime molds and lichens.

Jennifer Dou

Jennifer Dou is the Co-Founder and Lead Mycologist of Forij Mushrooms, a local cultivation supply and functional mushroom company. Jennifer is a biologist and fungi-lover, with a degree in microbiology and years of laboratory experience harvesting macrophage cells, performing cell culture work, and using CRISPR Cas9 technology. Soon, she discovered that the same mushrooms she found in the forest bore uncanny resemblance to the animal cells in her petri dishes. She has been cultivating mushrooms of all varieties ever since.

Adrian Oberg

Adrian is a psychedelic harm-reduction and integration specialist living in Victoria, BC. Psilocybin mushrooms have been significant teachers and allies along his path since adolescence, and professionally for the past 6 years. While completing a BA in Psychology at the University of Victoria, he helped form the Victoria Association for Psychedelic Studies (VAPS) to encourage community engagement around psychedelic experience, and took over directorial duties in 2015.

After providing harm-reduction services at music festivals as a volunteer since 2015, Adrian founded The Celium Psychedelic Harm Reduction team in 2017 to serve BC festivals, inspired by the supportive, connective, nourishing, and communicative nature of mushroom mycelium. He received certification as an Psychedelic Integration Therapist from the Chiron Institute in 2020 & completed TheraPsil’s Psilocybin Therapy training program in 2021 before taking on a practicum position with TheraPsil, supporting Canadians patients to access psilocybin therapy. Currently he is completing an MA degree in Child & Youth Care while maintaining a private counselling and consultation practice.


RootZ approaches life as a wild child at heart.  She carries 20+ years of lessons guiding beings of all ages and abilities in creative programs and wild open spaces.  They have influenced the creation of hundreds of kinaesthetic programs, alive with curiosity and passion.  

With a fearlessness to collaborate with a plethora of life-changing communities, she has designed programs, plays and performances for schools, camps and retreats rooted in unearthing our authentic connection with our most expressive and connective self.  She currently guides nature groups nestled in the Comox Valley with Hand in Hand Nature Education and PIE Partners in Education.  @wildchildrootz #withrootzphotography 

Ingrid Brown

Ingrid  (she/her/elle) is the Minister at Weird Church and a creature of the woods.  Ingrid’s love of the earth was nurtured in the forests of and by the community on Bowen Island and solidified in the concrete jungle of NYC where she studied performing arts.  These roots of love grew deeper as she explored inter-religious, interdisciplinary studies at the Vancouver School of Theology with a focus on the Judeo-Christian narrative and Indigenous studies.  Weird Church’s radically inclusive exploration of the wisdom of all traditions and the interconnectedness of all things is a deep and resonant place where Ingrid feels most at home sharing leadership, community care, and lots of laughter.  You might find her under the red roof of the church, in the forest, or drinking coffee and chatting somewhere around the village. 

Madeline Christie of Daisy Deathcare

Madeline is a Death Companion and Educator with a mission to provide knowledge about end of life planning, home funerals, pet loss, grief rituals, eco-friendly disposition options, and much more. By educating and empowering individuals to take control of their personal death journeys, her goal is to foster compassionate relationships in the community with the vision of creating a holistic deathcare network. She currently splits her time between Deathwork and project managing at Harmonic Arts.

Meaghan Cursons

Meaghan is an interdisciplinary conservationist, facilitator, community activator, and executive director of the Cumberland Community Forest Society. She has a keen interest in supporting meaningful connections between individuals, community, schools, government and the natural world. She produces climate change theatre with adults and children, co-founded the Cumberland Bat Project and co-creates community events that mash science, art, music and experiential learning including the Earth Week Festival, CCFS Science Pub Series and the Cumberland Fungus Fest.

Andy MacKinnon

Ecologist, author, activist and politician, Andy is renowned for his talents as an educator and is one of the modern architects of the widely-used biogeoclimatic forest classification system in British Columbia. His graduate research was in mycology and he is the co-author of six guidebooks to BC plants. His passion for the natural world persisted into a 30-year career as a research ecologist with the BC government and a registered professional botanist. He also taught as an adjunct professor at Simon Fraser University and still leads various field schools and guest lectures at post-secondary institutions and at Fungus fests throughout the Pacific Northwest. Andy has an intimate understanding of BC’s coastal forests, how they have changed over time, and what is needed to safeguard them into the future. 

Heather Soo

Heather Soo is a Professional Forester with the Ministry of Forests and fungus enthusiast. She is an active volunteer with the Canadian Institute of Forestry promoting forestry education through local initiatives on Vancouver Island including guiding walks in Campbell River in the Beaver Lodge Forest Lands

Yarrow Willard

Yarrow is a second generation clinical /  master Herbalist. He spends much of his time sharing practices around reclaim wellness, and deepen connection with the natural world. Professionally, Yarrow is the co-creator of Harmonic Arts Botanical Dispensary, and director of Wild Rose College of Natural Healing. As a speaker, entrepreneur and modern day reality hacker, he is highly engaging, dynamic and insightful. Yarrow is an entertaining educator who is passionate about herbs, mushrooms, superfoods, advanced nutrition and the growing science of re-claiming wellness and vibrant living in the modern age. Yarrows message stems from the infusion of modern and old world knowledge, sprinkled with his own magic.