Our People

About Us > Our People

Our people inspire confidence in the future through effective, innovative and engaging approaches to conserving wildlife and the ecosystems on which they depend.

Lizzie Corke

CEO and Founder

Together with Shayne Neal, Lizzie established the Conservation Ecology Centre in order to develop and deliver solutions to the most urgent conservation challenges in the Otways. With a background in natural sciences (BSc Zool, The University of Melbourne, 2001) she works to facilitate this important work by supporting a team committed to effective conservation and organisational development, building partnerships, and engaging our community. This work was recognised by the Australian Geographic Society Conservation Award in 2007.

Ecotourism plays a critical role in the CEC’s funding and engagement programs – the Centre established the Great Ocean Ecolodge in 2004 (Winner Victorian Tourism Awards for best new development, recognised by National Geographic Traveller as one of the 25 best ecolodges in the world). Lizzie is currently also working the development of a new social enterprise ecotourism venture ‘Wildlife Wonders’ on the Great Ocean Road. Designed by the Greens Master of the Lord of the Rings and Art Director of The Hobbit films, ‘Wildlife Wonders’ will provide outstanding opportunities for conservation and sustainable economic development in the region.

Lizzie is a Director of Ecotourism Australia, Chair of the Corangamite Catchment Management Authority Community Advisory Group and the recipient of the 2005 Prime Minister’s Award for Environmentalist of the Year.

Shayne Neal

Founder and Infrastructure Manager

Shayne completed his Diploma in Wilderness Reserves and Wildlife Management (The University of Queensland) and graduated with a degree in Natural Resource Management from The University of Melbourne in 2002. Understanding the importance of caring for ecosystems and the imperative for inspiring and engaging others in conservation, led him to establish the Conservation Ecology Centre with Lizzie Corke. He was awarded the Australian Geographic Society Conservation Award and National Geographic Society World Legacy Awards in recognition of this work in conservation and engagement.

Shayne grew up on a dairy farm in the western Otways and has skills in land management and restoration, construction, solar power and water management. After a lifetime of working with herding dogs on farms, Shayne began working with and training detection dogs through the Otways Conservation Dogs volunteer program and was the first team in the program to successfully qualify for field surveys – he currently works with Teddy (an experienced Tiger Quoll scat detection dog now also in training for Long Nosed Potoroo scat detection) and Gus (a newly qualified Tiger Quoll scat detection dog).

At the CEC and the Great Ocean Ecolodge Shayne is the go-to person to fix anything, and he’s the superpower behind the management of our facilities and delivery of our programs. Shayne delivers our dusk tours and other education and interpretation activities for Ecolodge visitors. Shayne is also the 2013, 2014 & 2015 Australian Ploughing Champion and volunteers in firefighting, road rescue, steep angle recovery and search and rescue with the Apollo Bay Country Fire Authority.

Dr Jack Pascoe

Conservation & Research Manager

Jack joined the Conservation Ecology Centre in 2012 to manage the ever-growing Conservation and Research Program. Jack grew up at Cape Otway before leaving to study Environmental Science at Deakin University and going on to complete a PhD with the University of Western Sydney where he studied the predators of the Blue Mountains. His key fields of interest are the ecology of apex predators and fire. Immediately prior to joining the CEC, Jack worked with one of our project partners, the Southern Otway Landcare Network, primarily focusing on mitigating the impacts of pest plants and animals throughout the Otways. Jack is currently the Vice Chair of the Otway Community Conservation Network, President of the Hordern Vale Glenaire Landcare Group and Chair of the Southern Otway Landcare Network’s Projects Committee. Jack has previously advised the Minister for Environment and Climate on the management of Cape Otway’s koalas. Jack is a Yuin man, and is passionate about restoring the productive systems in Gadubanud country where CEC operations are based. He also volunteers in firefighting, road rescue, steep angle recovery and search and rescue with the Apollo Bay Country Fire Authority.

Mark Le Pla

Conservation & Research Assistant

Mark interned with the Conservation Ecology Centre over the summer of 2014/15, before re-joining the team as our Conservation & Research Assistant at the beginning of 2016. Originally from south-east Queensland, Mark completed his Bachelor of Science (Ecology and Conservation Biology) with Honours at Griffith University in 2012. Whilst his initial research work focussed on bird communities, Mark gained a wide range of ecological field skills through several internship and volunteer opportunities before joining the CEC. Some of these experiences include: radio-tracking reintroduced Brush-tailed Possums and trapping Western Quolls in the Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park; trapping small mammals and reptiles in the central desert country of AWC’s Newhaven Sanctuary; and assisting in the translocation of several hundred Bridled Nail-tail Wallabies at AWC’s Scotia Sanctuary. Mark now assists in delivering the CEC’s conservation programs, including one of our most exciting projects to date, the Otways Threatened Species Research Network.

Harley England

Wildlife & Interpretation Manager

Harley joined the Conservation Ecology Centre at the beginning of 2018 where he is responsible for the care of our onsite wildlife and educational programs for visitors and guests. Harley will be instrumental in the development and delivery of the Wildlife Wonders project, and will also assist the CEC’s research team from time to time. Harley grew up in the Geelong region, before packing his bags for South Africa to begin a career in wildlife tourism in 2008. During his time in Africa, Harley worked for a number of establishments both in South Africa and Kenya exposing him to the beneficial relationships between conservation and tourism. In 2012 he returned to home shores to work on the beautiful and remote Kangaroo Island. In 2015, Harley completed his Bachelor of Science (Zoology & Ecology) from James Cook University in Cairns before working as a senior guide and ecologist in South-east Queensland.  He particularly enjoys getting out in the field conducting fauna surveys.

Karlijn Sas

Events & Ecolodge Manger

Karlijn manages the Great Ocean Ecolodge with her partner Steve. She also co-ordinates the Conservation Ecology Centre’s program of events, including the hugely successful Art & Ecology program. This annual exhibition celebrates some of the most rare and fragile inhabitants of the Otways through art – contributed by local artists. And monies raised from the sale of the artworks contribute to the Conservation Ecology Centre’s research programs. Karlijn has a Master of Science in Cultural Studies and has transformed the Gallery of The Great Ocean Ecolodge that now features many of the threatened species in the Otways. She is a people-person and along with Steve truly enjoys spending time with Ecolodge guests to assist in their itinerary so they get most out of their stay in the Otway forests.

Stephan Ras

Administration & Ecolodge Manager

Steve manages the Great Ocean Ecolodge with his partner Karlijn. He’s also expert at all things admin and helps ensure that the Conservation Ecology Centre functions as effectively and efficiently as possible. Stephan has a Master of Science in Educational Studies and feels right at home with his management skills. He enjoys engaging with guests about all that the area and the Conservation Ecology Centre has to offer. Both Steve and Karlijn are dedicated to communicating the work of the Conservation Ecology Centre and Lizzie and Shayne’s work in creating it. They have a passion for eco-tourism, sustainability, and developing an interesting guest experience with local products such as wines, beers, coffee, tea, and homegrown vegetables on site.

Toni Stevens

Communication Coordinator

Toni is a science communicator with a passion for conservation and ecology. She treasures her time in the Otways and loves helping to share the experience with others through media, social media, online, and in person. She believes sharing the stories of our wild places is an important step in helping people to understand the value of conserving them. Toni completed degrees in Journalism and Environmental Science at the University of Canberra and spent her honours year studying the habits of the endangered Grassland Earless Dragon. Toni also works part-time for the Ecological Society of Australia, and volunteers with Intrepid Landcare.

Ben Lake

2018 Intern

Ben is from Kalbarri, a small town in the mid-west of WA situated on the bank of the Murchison River, which is surrounded by national park. Growing up there he developed a deep passion for the outdoors and the natural environments. He followed his passion and studied Environmental Science and Botany at UWA and completed honours in Fire Ecology. After spending time away from ecology and environmental work he met his partner while snowboarding in Canada and moved to Victoria where he is endeavouring to develop a career in ecology and environmental management. Ben has been enchanted by the cool wet forests of the Otways as it is such a contrast to the semi-arid scrub he grew up in, he jumped on the opportunity do work with the Conservation Ecology Centre. Ben is ecstatic about deepening his knowledge about the challenges and developing his skills needed for conservation and management of the Otways.

Zahlia Payne

2018 Intern

Zahlia is an aspiring ecologist, with an interest in the impact of natural and anthropogenic disturbances, namely fire and land use changes, to Australian biodiversity. She has volunteered with a number of conservation and research projects across Australia, and studied the effects of fire on mammal communities of south-west Victoria for her Honours year. Growing up near the Otways, Zahlia is looking forward to learning more about the local flora and fauna, as well as the current conservation issues of this region.

Andrea Stiglingh

2018 Intern

Andrea completed her Bachelors of Science (Natural Resources) and Bachelors of Soil Science (Honours) degrees at the University of Adelaide in 2017 and 2018. Andrea has a real passion for the environment and a love for learning which has driven her involvement in conservation research, habitat restoration work and species management. Prior to taking up her role as an intern at the Conservation Ecology Centre, Andrea assisted with animal and vegetation surveys as a volunteer with the Scientific Exploration Group (SEG), BioR and the University of Adelaide. She is an active volunteer at Cleland Wildlife Park, assisting with the care of resident koalas and works casually as a research assistant in the School of Biology at the University of Adelaide. Andrea aspires to use her time at the Conservation Ecology Centre to enhance her science communication, animal handling and research skills in the hopes of making a positive impact/contribution in the fields of native species management and community education as she pursues a career in conservation.