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High Park Perspectives: Tobias Mullis-Karman

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This article is part of a series celebrating the amazing people who love and care for High Park and High Park Nature Centre. Have a story you wish to share about your High Park or High Park Nature Centre experience? Contact us for an opportunity for you and your story to be featured on our website!

Tobias Mullis-Karman is a naturalist teacher at the High Park Nature Centre. Having spent almost all his life with the Nature Centre, he shares his experiences growing up with and learning to love nature in High Park.

A kids digs in a plant in the savannah in High Park, Toronto.
Tobias plants some native species in the Black Oak Savannah in 2011. Credit: High Park Nature Centre

Tobias began his High Park journey all the way back as a little baby participating in our Nature Baby program. After 11 years of being involved as a participant in various nature programs, he also dedicated his time as a volunteer. Eventually he joined our staff as a naturalist teacher.

“I have been at the Nature Centre my entire life,” Tobias said. “I enjoy working here and I doubt that would have happened if I didn’t build my interest in nature through the Nature Centre’s programs.”

His earliest memories from his time at the Nature Centre was participating in a nature club program called Wonders of the Woods. This program took place way back when the Nature Centre operated out of the Cottage on Parkside Drive.

“I loved all the games and activities we played and going on hikes down the trails near the Cottage and the nearby Bowling Fields,” Tobias said. “I remember having so much fun with a bunch of kids my age who also thought nature was pretty cool.”

A kid peeps under a rainbow parachute during a nature program at the High Park Nature Centre in Toronto.
Tobias looks joyfully from under a rainbow parachute during a 2017 nature program. Credit: High Park Nature Centre
A naturalist teacher reads a nature book to a bunch of kids during a summer camp program in High Park, Toronto.
Tobias reads a book to kids during our summer camp in 2022. Credit: High Park Nature Centre

Today, as a naturalist teacher, Tobias enjoys being able to share his passion for High Park with others. Some of the programs he leads are the same ones he once participated in as a kid.

“I love showing so many people how wonderful this space is. Hopefully, I can spark the same interest and love for nature in High Park that I had as a kid,” Tobias said. “It is really gratifying.”

He especially loves taking kids and adults down to Grenadier Pond to show them waterfowl, songbirds and if they are lucky, a beaver or muskrat.

While there is a lot about nature in High Park that Tobias loves, the park means so much more to him.

“It feels like a home away from home,” he said. “I can just come here, and I feel safe, happy, calm and relaxed. I can just turn my brain off, go for a hike in the park and leave all my worries behind.”

As a former High Park Youth Ranger who now leads the program, Tobias also believes its important to preserve nature in High Park, particularly the globally rare Black Oak Savannah ecosystem in the park.

Kids look on as a nature educator points at something near a wetland in High Park, Toronto.
Tobias leads kids on a nature hikes along Grenadier Pond. Credit: High Park Nature Centre
A naturalist teacher plants native species in the Black Oak Savannah in High Park, Toronto.
Tobias plants native species in our OURSpace savannah learning garden. Credit: High Park Nature Centre

“A lot of people in Toronto don’t have the opportunity to go out and readily access nature,” he said. “This makes it important for us to take great care of green spaces like High Park. 

Beyond having the native Black Oak Savannah ecosystem as a teaching and learning tool, Tobias also highlighted its importance for native wildlife.

“High Park provides a safe haven for all the different species of birds, bugs and animals that stick around or migrate through the park,” he said. “Having this safe haven within a huge city is crucial for conservation.” 

As the city of Toronto continues to grow and as more and more people visit High Park, Tobias hopes to see better interactions between humans and nature in the park.

“There are a lot of people who don’t understand how important this space is and don’t treat it with the respect it deserves,” he said. “Educating people on how they can interact with the park is really important. Doing so will help nature in High Park to thrive.

Even after all these years in High Park, Tobias loves returning back to Cottage and the nearby Bowling Fields to relive his fond memories of the place. It also reinvigorates his same old sense of curiosity and wonder that enthralled him once as a kid.

“I love High Park. Nature in the park has been such a grounding place for me. And no matter what happens, I always know that High Park is a safe place that I can come back to and be happy,” he said.

A person with two purple-coloured hearts painted on his cheeks holds his thumbs up and smiles.
Tobias smiles at the camera during our summer camp in 2022. Credit: High Park Nature Centre

This article is part of a series celebrating the amazing people who love and care for High Park and High Park Nature Centre. Have a story your wish to share about your High Park or High Park Nature Centre experience? Contact us for an opportunity for you and your story to be featured on our website!

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