Francis R. Cook Mentorship Award Recipients

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Year Recipient Comments
2021 Dr. Josh Feltham
Fleming College; Destination Conservation

The 2021 Francis R. Cook Mentorship award was presented to Dr. Josh Feltham. Dr. Feltham is a full-time professor and coordinator of the Ecosystem Management program at Fleming College’s School of Environmental and Natural Resource Sciences. As a professor, Josh takes considerable time and effort in developing his programming and teaching his students. Being sensitive to student needs and abilities while challenging them to take measured risks and expand their comfort zone are key elements of Josh’s style and approach to teaching. His philosophy in education is to present challenges to students that will increase their adaptability, creativity, and ingenuity to make them more resilient and successful in a rapidly changing workplace. In addition to Josh’s role at Fleming College, he has been a teacher and mentor to countless students, conservation biologists, researchers, and local communities across Canada and internationally. He has developed tropical ecology and herpetology programs in Central America, including a community-based Sea Turtle conservation program and field herpetology courses in Costa Rica, as well as a program in Guyana to develop and document sustainable models of economic development that protect ecological integrity. Through the involvement of Canadian students, these tropical research and conservation programs get international attention, as well as much needed assistance on the ground. Josh’s experience as an educator and mentor in the field of herpetology also includes roles as the Station Manager and Director of Education at the Canadian Organization for Tropical Education and Rainforest Conservation, the General Manager of Reptilia Reptile Zoo and Education Centre, an instructor for an annual Ontario herpetology field course, and the Director of Destination Conservation. Outside of his academic pursuits, Josh is quick to offer assistance and freely lends his knowledge and expertise to others; he has contributed broadly to reptile research and conservation programs across Ontario. People who have been taught by Josh show great respect for what Josh has instilled in them, from passion for conservation to relevant and refined field skills. Josh’s students indicate that they are stronger researchers, better biologists, and more skilled technicians due to his influence. Josh’s influence extends far beyond his students, positively impacting herpetologists of all ages and experience levels. In every way, Josh Feltham exemplifies what it is to be a mentor to the next generation of herpetologists. With significant personal interest and professional expertise in herpetology, as well as being a gifted leader and teacher, there are few that could better fit this award.