Michael Hermary

michael.pngMichael Hermary is co-founder and President of Gaia College. He has been active in the organic land care community since 2003 and currently also serves on the board of the Canadian Society for Organic Urban Land Care (SOUL). He has BSc. and MSc. degrees in mathematics and statistics, and qualifications in actuarial science. Michael has worked in the financial industry, systems development, post-secondary education, and has read widely. Michael is a lifelong environmentalist and is blessed to be serving the organic land care community through his work with Gaia College and SOUL. 

Michael and Heide Hermary (deceased 2016) launched Gaia College to help people make a transition to sustainable land care practices. They wanted people to be aware of the connectedness of life and the importance of their choices and activities in making a difference in the world. 

“We know there are lots of people who want to do things differently and our aim has been to reach these people.”
- Michael Hermary

Julia Dupuis

Julia.pngJulia’s main role at Gaia College is course management and enrolments, ensuring students are able to register and access their respective online classrooms at the beginning of each semester.

Julia came to Gaia College in a roundabout way after completing a BSc in Chemistry and working for some time in both medicinal and inorganic chemistry labs. After completing a term position as a Program Coordinator at Canadian Organic Growers (COG) and being the Administrator at SOUL, Julia joined Gaia College in 2016 to take over management of the website and moodle. Since then her role has expanded to include administrator and registrar duties in addition to IT/IM duties.

Julia holds a MSc. (Environment and Management) from Royal Roads University, is an Accredited Practitioner (SOUL), Certified Chemist (ACPO) and Certified Lab Tech (Soil Food Web).

Julia currently lives in Ottawa with her husband and 3 kids where she maintains a growing worm farm and dabbles in thermal composting while trying to grow enormous amounts of food in a small garden. She is the proprietor of Soils Alive Composting & Consulting, a microscopy lab that focuses on microorganisms in soil and compost and helps people improve their soil health. Julia also sits on the SOUL Board of Directors.

While completing a masters at Royal Roads, her cohort’s mantra for a big project was “be the change”. Being a part of Gaia College, makes Julia feel like she is a part of the change that is helping gardeners and landscapers adapt to more holistic practices. 

Being part of an online college has its challenges as we never see our students. Julia takes the opportunities she can before and throughout a course to connect with students to not only engage, but get to know them. By remembering who they are, whether they are on the diploma path or taking courses at leisure, Julia hopes that connecting with them makes them feel welcomed at Gaia College. 

Layla Didmon

Layla.jpgLayla Didmon is the business manager for Gaia College and works behind the scenes to ensure the appropriate resources are available for our educational team to continue to support our students in their learning journey. 

With concerns about food security and a desire to learn how to expand her food garden production in a way that supports and builds healthy soil, Layla first came to Gaia College as a student in 2020.  She continues to be inspired by the Gaia College coursework, fellow students, instructors and colleagues who care deeply about the practice of organic land care. Layla is currently on track to obtain her Diploma in Organic Land Care later this year. 

Layla has a professional background in graphic, web and eLearning design, and as a small business owner. She is a lifelong learner who enjoys time in the garden, hiking and biking on the local trails, and camping with family. Layla is a big picture thinker who gets excited about turning problems into creative solutions that can serve multiple purposes.

Kenza Vandenbroeck

Kenza Vandenbroeck headshot 2021 

Kenza is Gaia College’s administrator & marketing manager. She works behind the scenes to support the educational team and fellow staff members so students can get the best learning experience. She also runs the social media and newsletter pages, so the public knows exactly what Gaia College is all about! She’s grateful to be a part of the Gaia College team, where forward-thinking sustainability practices are taught to fellow nature-enthusiasts!

She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Environment and Urban Sustainability from Toronto Metropolitan University. Growing up working at farmers markets for her family's vendor booth, she developed a deep passion for sustainability, locally grown food, and community-building. In university, she volunteered for sustainability organizations, urban farms, and worked as a research assistant in the geography department where she conducted urban forestry research.. After university, she worked for a mental health clinic doing social media management, business management, marketing, accounting and administration.  

In her free time, she does freelance photography, working with local musicians and artists in Toronto. She loves watching live music, traveling, and spending time in nature.