Award Winning Environmental Education Programs

The River Institute provides educational experiences that motivate, encourage and inspire young people to pursue in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields.   

For Youth

Our educational experiences link students of all ages with scientists in ongoing research and monitoring work. Students learn scientific concepts by using tools and equipment in actual field experimentation while having fun exploring the St. Lawrence River ecosystem. 

Workshops

Our interactive workshops cover a wide variety of topics for all grades and are designed to meet the Ontario science curriculum. Students can learn field and laboratory techniques with real biologists. For virtual workshops, check out our Online Education tab.

Camps

Since 1997 the St. Lawrence River Institute of Environmental Science Camps have provided local youth with the opportunity to explore nature. Our camps for ages 6-15, challenge participants to learn about science and the natural environment in a hands-on minds-on manner.

OutsideIN

To help deal with the unpredictability of inperson events over the last two years, our education team has developed online programming for students and teachers to enjoy from the comfort of your home or classroom. Our OutsideIN programming offers both virtual Teams workshops and downloadable content for all grades. 

Water festival

The eastern Ontario Children’s Water Festival is a bilingual, fullday environmental education program designed to complement the Ontario Curriculum. The purpose of the program is to educate young people about the value of water through fun and engaging hands-on stations! 

Events

The River Institute hosts many events in partnership with other organizations across Eastern Ontario, check out our calendar of events to see what’s coming up and join in on the fun! 

Affiliated

The River Institute and it’s partners provides specialized training to undergraduates, professionals or anyone interested to extend their knowledge in environmental science.

OBBN

The River Institute periodically offers basic training in the Ontario Benthos Biomonitoring Network. This tool allows for monitoring of aquatic invertebrates in lakes, streams and wetlands to evaluate ecosystem health. 

Contact bhickey@riverinstitute.ca for more information

Environmental Technician Program

The River Institute is partnered with St. Lawrence College to offer the Environmental Technician Program. Students have the opportunity to work hands on in the field and the lab alongside River Institute Scientists throughout their 2year degree. 

UAV Ground School

The RiverLabs RPAS Small Advanced Education Course is designed to provide Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS) pilots with the foundation of knowledge they need to become proficient and competent RPAS operators. 

Meet the Team

Our education staff are one of a kind!

Cristina Charette

Education CoordinatorWorkshops booking and funding ccharette@riverinstitute.ca

Cristina Charette M.Sc.

Cristina got her B.Sc. in Marine Biology at the Université du Québec à Rimouski. She completed an M.Sc. in Aquatic Ecology from Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM). She joined the River Institute as the Education Coordinator in 2015. In addition to working at the River Institute, she is currently a PhD candidate at UQAM in Dr. Alison Derry lab in partnership with the River Institute. Cristina’s PhD research addresses the impacts of invasive species on the St. Lawrence River food web. Her favourite workshops are Fish Ecology and Aquatic Invertebrates. In her free time, you will find Cristina out fishing, playing with her dog or reading.

Lexy Harquail

EducatorWater Festival and special projects lharquail@riverinstitute.ca

Lexy Harquail

Lexy joined the education team in 2019. She did her BSc in Marine Biology and Geology at the University of New Brunswick in Saint John. Her favourite workshops are the Rocks and Minerals and the Pond Life workshops. In her free time, she likes to crochet, read and go thrifting! 

 Her and Stéphanie always have a couple of rocks laying around in their car, purse or on their desk. The only difference between the two is that Lexy knows a lot more when it comes to rocks! During her BSc she studied geology but she also worked on a whale ship, (we think it is very cool!). Her favorite workshops are the Rocks and Minerals and the Pond Life workshops. She also LOVES Halloweens and she is very creative and resourceful so imagine the crazy costumes she comes up with! If she is not working you will likely catch her doing crochet, reading a good book or do her favorite activity, thrifting! 

Alanna Akkermans

EducatorCamps and special projects aakkermans@riverinstitute.ca

Alanna Akkermans

Alanna completed her undergraduate degree in Human Environment at Concordia University in 2020. She is passionate about the environment, education, and community wellness. Alanna loves animals, her favourite animal is a tie between ring-tailed lemurs and little brown bats. When not at work, Alanna can be found playing in her garden, cuddling with her cat, Warren, or out on a hiking trial!

Emilie DeRochie

Educator
ederochie@riverinstitute.ca

Emilie DeRochie

Emilie completed her Bachelor of Art’s in Environmental Studies with a minor in Biology at Carleton University, followed by a Bachelor of Education at the University of Ottawa. She is an Ontario Certified Teacher who is qualified to teach Biology, Geography and Environmental Science for grades 7-12. Through her experience working as an educator at the River Institute, teaching in local high schools and working as an instructor and teaching assistant for the St Lawrence College’s Environmental Technician Program, Emilie has taught students of all ages about our local natural environment. Emilie is most passionate about fish and teaching people to appreciate the St Lawrence River. Her hobbies include going for boat rides, spending time outdoors with friends and hanging out with her two pet bunnies, Cookie and Chip.

Brian Hickey

Program Leader in Education
bhickey@riverinstitute.ca

Brian Hickey, PhD

Brian joined the River Institute in 1999. He received his BSc in Biology from Queen’s University and both his MSc and PhD degrees from York University. He is currently the Education Program Leader and a Research Scientist at the River Institute. His research is focused on understanding how habitat change influences the behaviour of animals. His science education philosophy is that current research and education need to closely integrated, and that successful education is about establishing relationships between teachers and learners. Brian works on a variety of animals from fish to mammals but bats – the subjects of his graduate research – are his favorite. The part of Brian’s job he likes best, is that at one moment he can be teaching classes to university or college students, and a few hours later be in a grade one class with his guitar while students sing the “Fish Facts” or “Frog Hop” song. When he’s not in a classroom Brian is usually analyzing his research data or chasing some kind of animal to learn about its behaviour or protect its habitat. When Brian is not working he’s usually playing his guitar, chasing animals or reading a book, (often about science). Does that mean Brian’s a Science Nerd? He also plays and coaches basketball, so it’s not all science.

Cristina Charette M.Sc.

Education CoordinatorWorkshops booking and funding ccharette@riverinstitute.ca

Cristina got her B.Sc. in Marine Biology at the Université du Québec à Rimouski. She completed an M.Sc. in Aquatic Ecology from Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM). She joined the River Institute as the Education Coordinator in 2015. In addition to working at the River Institute, she is currently a PhD candidate at UQAM in Dr. Alison Derry lab in partnership with the River Institute. Cristina’s PhD research addresses the impacts of invasive species on the St. Lawrence River food web. Her favourite workshops are Fish Ecology and Aquatic Invertebrates. In her free time, you will find Cristina out fishing, playing with her dog or reading.

Christina Charette

Lexy Harquail

EducatorWater Festival and special projects lharquail@riverinstitute.ca

 Lexy joined the education team in 2019. She did her BSc in Marine Biology and Geology at the University of New Brunswick in Saint John. Her favourite workshops are the Rocks and Minerals and the Pond Life workshops. In her free time, she likes to crochet, read and go thrifting! 

 Her and Stéphanie always have a couple of rocks laying around in their car, purse or on their desk. The only difference between the two is that Lexy knows a lot more when it comes to rocks! During her BSc she studied geology but she also worked on a whale ship, (we think it is very cool!). Her favorite workshops are the Rocks and Minerals and the Pond Life workshops. She also LOVES Halloweens and she is very creative and resourceful so imagine the crazy costumes she comes up with! If she is not working you will likely catch her doing crochet, reading a good book or do her favorite activity, thrifting!

Lexy Harquail

Cristina Charette M.Sc.

Educator
Camps and special projects
sguernon@riverinstitute.ca

Stéphanie got her B.Sc. and M.Sc. in Biology from Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM) in the same lab as Cristina Charette our Education Coordinator. Stéphanie joined the education team in 2019 a little bit after Lexy Harquail. In addition to creating and giving workshop about environmental science she also teaches Microbiology for the St. Lawrence College. She just loves Microorganisms so much, but her very favorites are zooplankton, but that doesn’t mean anything because she has favorite of everything. Favorite fish (longnose gar), favorite invertebrate (tricoptera, hydra, and planaria), favorite aquatic plants (bladder worth; they eat zooplankton!), favorite bird (osprey), favorite rocks (labradorite; she just bought a rock tumbler!), etc.. Just like her colleagues, if she is not tending to her 60+ tropical houseplant, you will probably find her reading a book or crocheting animals

Stephanie Guernon

Emilie DeRochie

Educator
ederochie@riverinstitute.ca

Emilie completed her Bachelor of Art’s in Environmental Studies with a minor in Biology at Carleton University, followed by a Bachelor of Education at the University of Ottawa. She is an Ontario Certified Teacher who is qualified to teach Biology, Geography and Environmental Science for grades 7-12. Through her experience working as an educator at the River Institute, teaching in local high schools and working as an instructor and teaching assistant for the St Lawrence College’s Environmental Technician Program, Emilie has taught students of all ages about our local natural environment. Emilie is most passionate about fish and teaching people to appreciate the St Lawrence River. Her hobbies include going for boat rides, spending time outdoors with friends and hanging out with her two pet bunnies, Cookie and Chip.

Emilie Derochie

Brian Hickey, PhD

Program Leader in Education
bhickey@riverinstitute.ca

Brian joined the River Institute in 1999. He received his BSc in Biology from Queen’s University and both his MSc and PhD degrees from York University. He is currently the Education Program Leader and a Research Scientist at the River Institute. His research is focused on understanding how habitat change influences the behaviour of animals. His science education philosophy is that current research and education need to closely integrated, and that successful education is about establishing relationships between teachers and learners. Brian works on a variety of animals from fish to mammals but bats – the subjects of his graduate research – are his favorite. The part of Brian’s job he likes best, is that at one moment he can be teaching classes to university or college students, and a few hours later be in a grade one class with his guitar while students sing the “Fish Facts” or “Frog Hop” song. When he’s not in a classroom Brian is usually analyzing his research data or chasing some kind of animal to learn about its behaviour or protect its habitat. When Brian is not working he’s usually playing his guitar, chasing animals or reading a book, (often about science). Does that mean Brian’s a Science Nerd? He also plays and coaches basketball, so it’s not all science.

Brian Hickey