On October 23, 2019, individuals from the Niagara Parks Commission (NPC) and Brock University gathered at Legends on the Niagara Golf Course for an inaugural roundtable event. The roundtable is the first in a series of events made possible via the Excellence in Environmental Stewardship Initiative (EESI), a partnership between the NPC and Brock University. The meeting provided an orientation to EESI, allowed for the sharing of recently completed research findings, discussion the implications of the findings, and allowed for progress to be shared on projects associated with the partnership. Corey Burant from the NPC and Dr. Ryan Plummer from Brock co-chaired the event.
Angela Mallette, a recent Master of Sustainability graduate from Brock, presented her research on “Understanding Perceptions of the State of the Environment in Relation to Ecological Measures: Intergroup Differences and the influences of Environmental Interpretation”. Through ecological assessments, and visitor and expert surveys, Angela observed ecological health as well as perceptions of ecological health. Her research provides a holistic approach to environmental assessment which includes ecological measurements as well as social perspectives.
The discussion Angela’s presentation provoked stimulated not only more research questions but also suggestions for potential NPC initiatives to better achieve their stewardship goals. Her research has important ecological and cultural implications for the NPC and the sentiment resonated with everyone present at the meeting. One of the aims of the partnership is to mobilize evidence-based research and suggestions in order to help with the management of resources at the NPC. These findings not only help with immediate resolution of existing concerns, but also open avenues for other potential areas of research and collaboration.
After Angela’s presentation and a stimulating discussion on the outcomes and implications of her research, faculty and students from Brock shared updates on the ongoing projects which are a part of the partnership. Samantha Witkowski, a current Master of Sustainability student at Brock shared her ongoing research on monitoring and evaluation approaches. Brock University Assistant Professor Dr. Julia Baird presented the early findings of the her latest research, made possible through an Insight Development Grant, which aims at assessing four different methods for evaluating ecological outcomes of environmental stewardship. Dr. Baird and Post-Doctoral Fellow Dr. Sherman Farhad also shared updates on an ongoing social network analysis project which aims at understanding the modes and extent of environmental stewardship knowledge sharing networks at the NPC. Updates were also shared on Dr. Jessica Blythe’s project related to the public’s perception of the NPC.
The outcomes of completed and ongoing partnership projects provide insights and opportunities that influence future environmental stewardship goals and objectives. The roundtable was a true reflection of the commitment and the level of engagement that individuals from both the organizations bring to the table. The event perfectly captured the essence of the partnership and underscored the importance of current and future roundtables.