Event

  • Congratulations to the Spring Class of 2022!

    Top Row (L-R): Edward Anyan, Jillian Booth, Gavin Esdale Middle Row (L-R): Brooke Kapeller, Bridget McGlynn, Mikellena Nettos Bottom Row: Baharak Razaghirad

    On June 14th, seven of our students will receive their Master of Sustainability (MS) degrees and move on to the next phase of their careers, whether it be the pursuit of another degree, or beginning a new job in the field. For the first time in two years, we will be celebrating our graduates in-person – for many of our graduates who entered the program in 2020, this will be their first time meeting our faculty, staff, and fellow cohort members!

    We are incredibly proud of these students, and it’s been an honour to be a part of their academic journeys!

    Edward Anyan joined the program in 2020. His previous degree in Geography and Resource Development from the University of Ghana and a Certificate in GIS geospatial management from Niagara College provided a solid foundation for his MRP research, titled “More Than a Green Roof: An Analysis of Low Impact Development Policies and Practices” and supervised by Dr. Marilyne Jollineau. During his time in the program, Edward secured a two-term co-op position in the Community, Recreation and Culture Services department of the City of St. Catharines. Edward recently secured a full-time position in the Office of the Auditor General.

    Jillian Booth joined the program in 2020. She has a degree in Environmental Geoscience from Brock University and used the skills from this degree to inform her MRP, titled “A Holistic Approach to Mapping Priority Sites for Low-Impact Development”. Jillian’s research was supervised by Dr. Julia Baird, and she was a member of Dr. Baird’s Water Resilience Lab throughout her time in the program and worked as a Research Assistant for the Partnership for Freshwater Resilience. Jillian was a recipient of the FOSS Student Research Award in 2021 and presented her MRP research at the FOSS Research Colloquium in December 2021. She also completed her co-op work term as a Research Assistant at the Vineland Research and Innovation Centre and has now secured full-time employment with Vineland as a Research Associate.

    Gavin Esdale joined the program in 2020 and will be visiting the Brock campus for the first time at the Spring convocation ceremony, as he joined the program from Vancouver, BC! Gavin has a degree in General Science from Thompson Rivers University. His knowledge was further developed in his MRP, titled “The Forest and its Trees: A Critical Inquiry into the Use of Nature-based Solutions in Canada’s A Healthy Environment and A Healthy Economy Plan” and supervised by Dr. Liette Vasseur.

    Brooke Kapeller joined the program in 2017 from Medicine Hat, Alberta. Brooke’s thesis research was supervised by Dr. Ryan Plummer and was titled “Exploring Environmental Stewardship in the Niagara Region of Canada: How Do Elements of Environmental Stewardship Relate to Success?”. Brooke successfully defended her thesis on October 1, 2021 and received numerous awards throughout her time in the program, including the FOSS Student Research Award (2019), Toromont CAT Scholarship (2018), and the Graduate Student Research Excellence Award (2020). Brooke is now working as a program coordinator at the Bow River Basin council.

    Bridget McGlynn joined the program in 2019 and began research under the supervision of Dr. Ryan Plummer. Like fellow graduate Jillian Booth, Bridget was a member of Dr. Julia Baird’s Water Resilience Lab throughout her time in the program. She also worked as a Research Assistant with a number of partnerships within the ESRC, including the Excellence in Environmental Stewardship Initiative, the Partnership for Freshwater Resilience, and the partnership with the Government of the Northwest Territories. Bridget’s thesis research was titled “An Examination of Collaborative Governance for Complex Adaptive Systems in the St. John River Basin” and was successfully defended on October 15, 2021.

    Mikellena Nettos joined the program in 2020 after completing a degree in Medical Science with a Minor in Environmental Sustainability and Dramatic Arts at Brock University. In her first year of the program, she worked as a Research Assistant with the Charter for Facilities Management and later secured a co-op position with the Canada Post corporation as a Summer Student in the Real Estate, Environment and Sustainability department. Mikellena’s MRP research was supervised by Dr. Jessica Blythe and titled “Environmental racism: proximity of environmental hazards and benefits to visible minority communities in Ontario, Canada”. Since completing the program, Mikellena has begun working as a Youth Engagement Coordinator at Climate Reality Canada.

    Baharak Razaghirad joined the program in 2019 and travelled from Tehran, Iran, to study at Brock. Baharak has previous degrees in Natural Resources and Environmental Engineering from Azad University, and brought this knowledge to her thesis research, supervised by Dr. Marilyne Jollineau. Baharak’s thesis was titled “Urban Tree Canopy Assessment Using Geospatial Technologies: A Case Study of the Town of Lincoln, Ontario”, and was successfully defended by Baharak on November 30, 2021. Baharak is currently employed full-time as a Research Assistant working within the Brock-Lincoln Living Lab partnership with the Town of Lincoln. Her work on urban tree canopy initiatives within the Town is directly related to her thesis work.

    Congratulations to all of these students – we can’t wait to learn more about your future successes!

     

    Categories: Blog, Event, SSAS Program

  • My First Year Reflection

    Blog Contributor: Madison Lepp

    Madison Lepp presenting her research at the Mapping New Knowledges Conference. Photo credit: Alexandra Cotrufo

    Imagine this: standing in a room full of academics waiting for you to give a presentation on your research. Apprehensively awaiting the commentary that will follow. Unsure of whether those listening will find your research topic intriguing. Now imagine the opposite, and that is what presenting at the Brock Mapping New Knowledge (MNK) Graduate Research Conference was like. Presenting one’s ideas can be a daunting task at any stage in their academic career, especially at the beginning of one’s academic journey. In April I decided to participate in Brock’s 17thannual MNK Graduate Research Conference. The conference is aimed at showcasing the different research happening on the Brock campus. The space was inclusive, welcoming, and ultimately allowed me to improve my skillset and thesis.

    A bit of a background: I just completed my second semester of the Masters of Sustainability Science and Society (SSAS) program at Brock. I am currently researching my thesis titled building climate resilience and climate equity in Canadian municipalities. For me, presenting at this conference was the first big step in my graduate degree where I would put my ideas on the line. Through the experience of both finishing my first two semesters of the program and presenting at my first conference I learned a few things…

    A level of uncertainty is okay.

    It can be easy to compare yourself to others, doubt your abilities, and feel like you are not good enough to be where you are – hello imposters syndrome. I would be lying if I said I didn’t have this feeling in the past year but, one thing that drew me to the SSAS program was the level of openness the program offers. Through countless discussions on the topic, I have concluded that feeling uncertain should not make you an imposter and is completely normal. The supportive culture of the program has helped me channel this self-doubt into positive motivation. When presenting at the MNK conference I used this positive outlook, knowing that many other students presenting at the conference were in the same place as I.

    Only practice makes perfect.

    Odds are the first time you present something it will not be perfect, but that’s okay. Preparing to defend my research by presenting at this conference was a great way for me to prepare. After two years of presenting online, the MNK conference provided opportunity to brush up on my in-person presentation skills. I can only hope that the next time I present it will go even better than the first. Being comfortable with being uncomfortable is important in improving performance. I am glad that my first experience of being uncomfortable in my masters was in such an inclusive space.

    Avoiding (constructive) criticism gets you nowhere.

    Let’s be honest, no one truly likes receiving criticism and although being confident in your work is important, accepting criticism is an opportunity to improve your work. Through multiple applications and presentations of my ideas to colleagues, the first draft of my thesis proposal has changed a great deal – and for the better. The MNK conference was yet another opportunity to get feedback on my thesis. Through the engagement of the audience, I came to improve my thesis proposal once again. Using critiques of your work can be an important step to improve ideas.

    Although daunting, the experience of presenting at the MNK conference was highly beneficial and gave me a chance to elaborate on my thesis research proposal while providing me with the space to enhance skills I will use in the future. I am excited to see how my work will evolve over the next year and am eager to participate in next year’s MNK conference.

    Categories: Blog, Conferences, Event, Program Reflections, SSAS Program, SSAS Student Contributor

  • That’s a Wrap: The Final Speaker Series of 2021! An Insider Look into the International Joint Commission

    Blog Contributor: Shannon Heaney

    Photo retrieved from Environment Canada

    On November 25, 2021, the final Speaker Series of 2021 was hosted by the Niagara Parks Commission in partnership with Brock University’s Environmental Sustainability Research Centre. The final session included a presentation from Brock University undergraduate student Kassie and ended with the keynote presentation by Natalie Green from the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority, and Raj Bejankiwar from the Interntional Joint Commission.

    Kassie presented her research titled The UN Sustainable Development Goals: From Local to Global. In collaboration with another Brock undergraduate student, Kassie developed a webpage, which can be found here, that provides information about the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and local initiatives that are contributing to achieving the SDGs at Brock University and in the Niagara Region. You can also find individual actions related to each goal that can be incorporated into everyday life to contribute to achieving the SDGs. Kassie left us with a note of inspiration reminding us that the Sustainable Development Goals can be daunting; however, looking at the positive changes in your local community and engaging in individual actions makes the SDGs much more attainable!

    Our keynote speakers presented the Evolution of the International Joint Commission (IJC). Raj Bejankiwar outlined an in-depth history of the evolution of the International Joint Commission beginning with the Boundary Water Treaty that was created in 1909 and led to the formation of the IJC, to the present-day Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. The IJC consists of 6 commissioners, 3 from Canada and 3 from the United States, that work in collaboration with advisory groups, task forces, and the public to maintain the quality of the transboundary environment between Canada and the United States and is regarded as a revolutionary environmental collaboration.

    Natalie Green discussed the role that the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority (NPCA) plays in maintaining the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement and the complementary Canada and Ontario Great Lakes Water Agreement. Guided by the agreements, Areas of Concern, areas that experience environmental harm or degradation, are identified. At all Areas of Concern locally driven Remedial Action Plans are implemented to restore water and ecosystem health with the goal of removing the area from the Areas of Concern list. Working in collaboration with numerous organizations, the NPCA has restored 1.5km of shoreline on the Niagara Peninsula, with 7.5 acres of coastal wetlands restored!

    The NPCA and IJC encourage public engagement; if you would like to get involved you can follow their social media, visit the volunteer page, or sign up for their respective newsletters! As always, if you missed this talk and want to learn more you can watch the talk on the ESRC YouTube Channel.

    We would like to thank all our presenters that have shared their knowledge, research, and time with us throughout the 2021 Speaker Series! We would also like to thank everyone who attended and engaged in the Speaker Series. Remember, if you missed any of the Speaker Series you can find them here!

    Categories: Blog, Environmental Stewardship Initiative, Event, SSAS Student Contributor

  • The Niagara Parks Commission Stewardship Speaker Series Returns for Fall 2021

    Blog Contributor: Lauren Patterson

    This fall, the Environmental Sustainability Research Centre at Brock University and the Niagara Parks Commission will once again be partnering to host the Environmental Speaker Series. The series consists of three, free sessions all available online. Each session will spotlight one Brock student and their research, as well as enthralling discussion from environmental professionals.

    The series will kick off this Thursday, September 23rd at 7pm, with a panel discussion on “Environmental Stewardship in Niagara”.  We will hear from Brooke Kapeller, a Brock University Masters student who will be discussing her research “Exploring environmental stewardship in the Niagara Region of Canada: How do elements of environmental stewardship relate to success?”. Our keynote panel discussion will be moderated by Dr. Ryan Plummer, Director of the ESRC and Professor of Sustainability here at Brock. Joining Dr. Plummer will be our panelists: Ellen Savoia and Corey Burant. Guided by their respective expertise in environmental planning and forest health, Ellen and Corey will discuss what it means to be Environmental Stewards in Niagara, and what we can expect for the future of environmental stewardship in the region. There will be opportunities for Q&A following the discussion.

    The second session will take place October 28th, where we will hear from Parks Canada stewards Tammie Dobbie and Andrew Leforet on “Ecosystem restoration challenges faced by Parks Canada”, as well as SSAS alumni Angela Mallette. On November 25th our topic will be “The Evolution of the International Joint Commission”, and we will be joined by keynote speakers Natalie Green from The Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority, and the International Joint Commission’s Rej Bejankiwar, in addition to undergraduate student Kassie Burns.

    All events will take place online and are free to attend. If you are interested in attending Environmental Speaker Series sessions, please register here, where you can sign up to receive links to join the live streams.

     

    Categories: Blog, Environmental Stewardship Initiative, Event, SSAS Student Contributor

  • Earth Day: Robyn Bourgeois, Acting Vice-Provost, Indigenous Engagement at Brock

    Blog Contributors: Savannah Stuart and Allison Clark

    On Earth Day especially, we must look to and honor Indigenous People’s traditional knowledge, ways of knowing, and relationship with the land. Indigenous Peoples were the first stewards of this land and far before colonization, they lived sustainably and in harmony with the land and continue to do so. As the climate crisis unfolds, people across the world are attempting to understand what sustainability truly means and how we can shift our societies towards more sustainable ways of living. There is much that can be learned from Indigenous Peoples, and their voices must be lifted and followed. This Earth Day, the Environmental Sustainability Research Centre (ESRC) asked Dr. Robyn Bourgeois, Vice-Provost Indigenous Engagement and Associate Professor for the Centre for Women’s and Gender Studies, to present her work surrounding the intersection of environmental and social justice.

    Preceding Dr. Bourgeois’ talk was a presentation from a group of undergraduate students taking part in a directed readings course. As Applied Health Science students, they focused their course on decolonizing health and cultural safety. The students created an experiential learning experience, where they were able to engage with Indigenous communities and Elders. The students built their own learning objectives and course culture which revolved around the “four R’s”: respect, responsibility, reciprocity, and relationships. These students found that the relationships they formed together and with Elders, enhanced their understanding of Indigenous issues in Canada, while also allowing them to take part in a transformative learning experience.

    Dr. Bourgeois continued the Earth Day event with a presentation on the intersection between violence against the environment and violence against Indigenous women. She began with a welcoming song from the Mi’kmaq Territory in Nova Scotia, which helped create a safe space for the heavy discussion that was to follow. Dr. Bourgeois is a mixed-race Cree woman and a professor within the department of Women and Gender Studies at Brock. She studies Indigenous feminism, violence against Indigenous women and girls, and Indigenous women’s political activism and leadership.

    Using traditional Indigenous knowledge, Dr. Bourgeois described how Indigenous women face dangers associated with colonialism, systemic racism, and sexism. One perspective that may be new to many is how the environment is related to these issues. Meaningfully addressing gender-based violence offers a resilient pathway to solve the genocidal climate change issue we are facing. As Dr. Bourgeois said in her presentation, “people will not respect the land until they respect women”, reminding us that environmental issues and Indigenous issues are very much connected and should be addressed together.

    For decades, people have been requesting investigations into missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada. The “Highway of Tears”, a remote highway in northern British Columbia, has been the location of many missing and murdered Indigenous women, beginning in the 1970s. This highway is the gateway to much of northern British Columbia’s extractive industries. Only recently, this highway was provided with secure cellphone service. Moreover, those following Indigenous rights and recent pipeline protests may be familiar with red dresses hung throughout sites of proposed developments. These red dresses pay tribute to missing and murdered Indigenous women and act as a reminder that the extraction of natural resources has been associated with increased violence and harm against Indigenous women.

    Social justice issues can transcend boundaries and manifest in both physical and non-physical ways. Dr. Bourgeois explained that colonialism is no exception, and pulling from examples of her own experiences, informed the audience on how harmful conditioned colonial perspectives influence the way in which Indigenous women are treated in society.

    To begin addressing gender-based violence and environmental violence, further awareness and education is needed.  At the end of her presentation, the audience asked Dr. Bourgeois for additional resources to further educate themselves and raise awareness of the issues she discussed. This list will be provided in the coming weeks on our blog and on our social media channels. To watch Dr. Bourgeois’ talk, please click here.

    Categories: Blog, Environmental Stewardship Initiative, Event, SSAS Student Contributor, Uncategorised

  • Niagara Adapts Panel Discussion: Implementation

    Blog Contributor: Michaela Jennings

    On March 11th, 2021, the Environmental Sustainability Research Centre (ESRC) hosted a panel for the Sustainability Seminar Series. The panel provided an opportunity for students, municipal partners, and community members to learn from climate adaptation professionals about the successful implementation of climate adaptation actions and initiatives.

    The panel was moderated by Dr. Jessica Blythe, who leads the Niagara Adapts partnership. The three panelists were Joanna Eyquem, Director of Climate Programs, Quebec at the Intact Centre, Katie Thompson, Risk Management Official at the City of Barrie, and Jacob Porter, Climate Adaptation Coordinator at the City of Thunder Bay.

    The discussion was structured around five questions:

    • What does climate adaptation planning look like for your municipality or organization?
    • Why are municipalities the right group to implement climate adaptation actions?
    • What successes has your municipality or organization experience in implementing climate adaptation actions? And what factors led to those successes?
    • What are the main challenges your municipality or organization has experienced in implementing climate adaptation actions? What would help you overcome those barriers in the future?
    • Going forward, what do you hope to see in the municipal climate adaptation space?

    Panelist engaged in an honest discussion of both the successes and the challenges associated with implementing climate adaptation actions in Canadian municipalities. Their varying backgrounds and perspectives lead to a rich array of insights and examples on adaptation planning.

    An important theme that emerged from the panel, was that as actions, projects, and initiatives are created, implementation is key in developing a plan for how those actions will be initiated, maintained, and measured at the municipal level.

    The panelists discussed a variety of important aspects in both the planning process and implementation.  For example, the reflected on the benefits of collaborating with internal and external stakeholders as a key attribute to successful implementation strategies. The panelists also highlighted that working with community organizations, departments, and community members is an important step in successful implementation strategies. The discussion concluded with questions from the audience about measuring implementation, risk preparedness, and scale.

    Throughout the discussion the panelists highlighted resources and tools they have used in their own planning and implementation processes. The resources are beneficial in furthering an understanding of climate adaptation planning processes in Canada. Those resources are available here.

    If you missed the live event on Thursday, March 11th, a recording of the event is available on the ESRC’s YouTube channel here.

     

     

    Categories: Blog, Event, Niagara Adapts, SSAS Program, Student Contributor

  • Building better research through community partnerships

    Blog Contributor: Erica Harper

    On January 26th, 2020 Brock hosted a workshop called “Building better research through community partnerships”, which was the 11th event in the Building Better Research series – a collaboration between Brock’s Office of Research Services and the Library. The panelists included the following faculty and staff members:

    • Meaghan Rusnell – Director, Government and Community Engagement
    • Julie Rorison – Manager, Community Relations
    • Madelyn Law – Associate Provost, Teaching and Learning; Professor of Health Sciences
    • Sid Segalowitz – Professor Emeritus and Director, Centre for Lifespan Development Research
    • Ryan Plummer – Professor and Director, Environmental Sustainability Research Centre (ESRC)

    All panelists detailed their experiences of conducting research through community partnerships, including Dr. Plummer who discussed the benefits of collaborating with the ESRC’s partners. The Centre now has over eight formalized agreements with partners such as the Trail Assets and Tourism Initiative with the Niagara Parks Commission, the Partnership for Freshwater Resilience with World Wildlife Fund-Canada, and the Brock-Lincoln Living Lab, to name a few.

    According to Dr. Plummer, here are three main benefits of working with community partners:

    • The ability to co-create knowledge in a way that honours and gives a voice to the partners in the community and bridges the gap between scientific knowledge and the needs of the local partners and communities. Dr. Plummer provided a recent example of how collaborating with partners is the key to meeting the needs of the community. He explained that the ESRC’s partners at Niagara Parks were dealing with a dramatic increase in tourism at the start of the pandemic due to the public wanting to get out of their homes and explore local greenspaces.

    Instead of having around 220,000 people visit the Niagara Glen per season, the added need for greenspaces led to over 300,000 visitors during the 2020 season. Dr. Plummer mentioned it was important to quickly pivot within the partnership to start responding to an acute community need to support people’s wellbeing throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.  This was possible due to a good working relationship with the partners at the Niagara Parks Commission (NPC), and they were able to create a video that showcased best practices for trail safety amid COVID-19 and beyond.

    • Every year (pre-pandemic), Master of Sustainability students go on a field trip to visit the ESRC’s community partners such as NPC, the Town of Lincoln, and Vineland, to name a few. During this trip, students have the ability to meet with partners and receive an incredible hands-on experience. This important fieldtrip can even inspire students to take on research related to the partners, which brings us to our last main benefit of engaging in community partnerships. To learn more about this engaging experience and how learning outside the classroom is beneficial for students, read this blog post.
    • Through meeting with partners and attending partnership events, thesis students within the MS program are able to look at concerns and needs that partners have and can tailor their research to address these needs. For example, Angela Mallette, a past graduate student, presented her research regarding Niagara Parks. Within two weeks of successfully defending her thesis, two Niagara Parks managers at the partnership’s bi-annual roundtable were able to implement her recommendations. Ultimately, student research related to partnerships has the power to impact hundreds of thousands of people in the community and beyond.

    All in all, engaging in community partnerships can lead to a number of impactful research projects and help our community by making a difference in the environment while also enhancing the student experience.

    Categories: Blog, Collaborations, Event, Innovative Partnership, Town of Lincoln

  • Key Takeaways from the Panel on Exploring Careers in Sustainability

    Blog Contributor: Erica Harper

    On Thursday, January 21st, The Environmental Sustainability Research Centre’s (ESRC) Sustainability Seminar Series continued with a panel discussion on exploring careers in the field of sustainability.

    The panelists included Kara Renaud from Career Education at Brock as well as Brock Master of Sustainability alumni Leaya Amey, Kelsey Scarfone, and Nicholas Fischer. To learn more about each panelist, click here to read their biographies.

    The panelists discussed important topics for prospective, current, and past SSAS students that will undoubtably help them in their journeys from being in the program to navigating through the challenging times between graduation and landing a job in sustainability. Each panelist provided the audience with their varying experiences and what they learned as they reflected on the paths they took to get to where they are today in the corporate world, the public sector, and the non-profit space.

    As a someone who recently completed the Master of Sustainability program at Brock in Fall 2020, here are my key takeaways and pieces of advice based on what I learned from all the panelists:

    Patience and flexibility are essential:

    Being patient with yourself and flexible while you’re navigating life from graduate school to the working world was a piece of advice that all of us could use. All the panelists agreed that we must be patient as we determine what we want to do within the field of sustainability since there are a wide variety of options, and to be flexible with your timelines. It’s fun to plan out your post-graduation life while you’re in school, but you never know what can happen (like a global pandemic) so it’s best to remain flexible regarding the type of work you get into and when you start working after graduation. As long as you’re honing your skills, volunteering, networking, or getting involved in some way, you will eventually find a job that works for you.

    Communication and collaboration are key:

    Effective communication is essential in all jobs, but it is especially important in the field of sustainability. From CSR reporting to policy analysis, it’s crucial to know how to formulate an effective and impactful message to be able to enact change within an organization, the public, or the government, to name a few. Collaboration, which is a skill most students will quickly learn throughout the program’s group projects, is a skill that cannot be overlooked. Since sustainability is directly tied to the environment, the economy, health, and social issues, there is no doubt that sustainability professionals will need to collaborate with people in different departments on a daily basis. Due to the transdisciplinary nature of the SSAS program and the field of sustainability in general, students must prioritize gaining collaboration skills to help them be competitive in the job market.

    Push yourself out of your comfort zone:

    The panelists agreed that putting yourself out there and attending conferences, networking events, and reaching out to professionals in your field on LinkedIn will directly contribute to landing a job in your desired field. It’s important to note that you may not start your career off in the field of sustainability, but you may work for a company that has a sustainability department that you may have the chance to work with or even transfer to once you gain more experience. Ultimately, making one connection leads to that connection knowing someone who knows someone who may have the perfect job for you! It’s all about continuing to meet people (virtually) who can provide you with more information in the field that you hope to work in, which will help you gain a deeper understanding of trends, important skills, and the direction of an industry you may be interested in.

    If you missed the live panel discussion, make sure to check it out on the ESRC’s YouTube channel here.

    Categories: Blog, Event, SSAS Program, SSAS Student Contributor

  • EESI Partnership Roundtable Event

    Blog Contributor: Allison Clark

    Greenspaces, such as those found within Niagara Parks, have great ecological and social importance. For example, connecting with nature can provide benefits to physical and mental health. ThCovid-19 pandemic has increased the need for people to get outside and connect with nature. As a result, human activity in greenspaces has increased substantially, which has in turcreated challenges for parks management. To ensure ecological integrity is being upheld while also protecting visitor safety, new trail management strategies should be considered. 

    To discuss how Niagara Parks can navigate the increased use of greenspaces, a roundtable event was held on October 20th, 2020. This event brought together individuals from the Niagara Parks Commission (NPC) and Brock University. This event was made possible by the Excellence in Environmental Stewardship Initiative (EESI) – a partnership between NPC and Brock. During this event, Brock University’s master’s students, Samantha Witkowski and John Foster, presented their research pertaining to greenspaces within Niagara Parks. Implications of these research findings were discussed with regards to the management of greenspaces. 

    Samantha’s presentation was titled: Examining Stakeholder Perceptions in Monitoring and Evaluation of Environmental Management. Samantha presented two different studies. The first study examined inter-group differences in the perceptions of key performance indicators (KPIs) for viewpoints. Results showed that stakeholders, tourists, local residents, and environmental managers perceived KPIs differently in Niagara Parks. For example, stakeholders perceived view quality and vegetation as the most important KPIs, whereas environmental managers perceived viewpoint KPIs more critically. The second study explored the influence of engaging in a collaborative, or participatory monitoring and evaluation process on stakeholder perceptions of KPIs for trails. For this study, Samantha had stakeholders rank KPIs from what they perceived as most important to least important in terms of trail management. Stakeholders were then required to take a KPI workshop and re-rank KPIs. Results from this study showed that stakeholders perceptions of important KPIs for trail management differed significantly following the KPI workshop. Furthermore, it was noted that discussion, communication, and learning opportunities contributed to perception change. A main takeaway from Samantha’s research was that the NPC should move away from strictly expert-led, ecologically focused trail management approachesand move towards the inclusion of stakeholder perceptions in environmental management, monitoring and evaluation. 

    John’s presentation was titled: Niagara Glen Trails Assessment, Summer 2020. John’s research highlighted some challenges associated with increased human traffic in the Niagara Glen, as well as some short-term and long-term solutions to address increased traffic along the trail. John outlined challenges associated with social trails (networks of unauthorized trails), and visitor safety and communication. To protect ecological and human health at the Niagara Glen, John proposed that the NPC implements visitor education sessions, increases signage, and creates effective trail maps. 

    Overall, this roundtable event worked to successfully discuss how the NPC should navigate increased usage of greenspaces. The research findings presented by Samantha and John were received very well by members of the EESI, and the NPC were very receptive to suggestions for improved environmental and trail management.  

    Categories: Applied Research, Blog, Environmental Stewardship Initiative, Event, SSAS Student Contributor

  • NPC Speaker Series Wrap Up

    Blog Contributors: Allison Clark & Savannah Stuart

    NPC Webinar Screenshot

    Dr. Adam Shoalts was the last guest in the NPC Stewardship Speaker Series, and what an adventurous note to end on! Adam is well known for his novels and storytelling, detailing his incredible solo adventures through the Northern Canadian Wilderness. He brings with him a rare understanding and view of the vast landscape of the Arcticone of the largest untouched wilderness areas left in the entire world. With a PhD in history from McMaster University and extensive experience orienteering and navigating wilderness settings, Adam has a keen sense of natural history and geography. Through his humorous and compelling talk, Adam translated knowledge and experiences to the viewers in a tangible way. 

    Adam’s most recent exploration was a solo adventure through the Canadian Artic, from East to West. He began this trip by foot in the spring, as rivers were still ice covered. His canoe was shipped to the Mackenzie River Delta and by then, the ice had melted and he was able to continue his journey by paddling and portaging. Near the end, he was racing to arrive at his destination before the Arctic winter took hold of the land again. Many questions were brought forth from viewers at home, such as food inquiries, how he was able to spend so much time in solitude, preparation, and lots of gear questions. Specific details of the trip are found in his novel, “Beyond the Trees”, which can be purchased on the Niagara Parks website. Judging by the captivity and engagement of the crowd, we can only assume that the novel will keep you on the edge of your seat!  

    With this last presentation, we are saddened to wrap up our speaker series. It has been a joy to come together (virtually) and learn about different aspects of the environment, stewardship, and sustainability. Our diverse selection of speakers brought an array of teachings to us and visited topics such as: Traditional ecological knowledge, adaptive capacity of communities, the current state of fresh water in Ontario, and the importance of wild spaces and connecting with nature. We feel that this series captured the transdisciplinary nature of environmental stewardship and sustainability and are hopeful that our audience took away inspiration and new ideas. Thank you to all who were able to join us! 

    Categories: Blog, Collaborations, Environmental Stewardship Initiative, Event, Innovative Partnership, SSAS Student Contributor