Excellence in Environmental Stewardship Initiative

The Excellence in Environmental Stewardship Initiative (EESI) was a partnership that used the expertise and resources of both the ESRC and the Niagara Parks Commission to increase environmental stewardship through public events and, in the case of students, through co-op education opportunities, course work and research.

Past Team Members

Ryan Plummer

Email: rplummer@brocku.ca

Director, ESRC, Brock University
Senior Research Fellow, Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University
Adjunct Professor, Sustainability Research Centre, University of the Sunshine Coast
Adjunct Faculty, Department of Environment and Resource Studies, University of Waterloo

Ryan’s multi-faceted program of research broadly concerns the governance of social-ecological systems. In striving to advance knowledge of collaboration and adaptation within complex systems, he has focused on the exploring their theoretical underpinnings and ethical implications, modeling their processes, examining the roles of social capital, and investigating the influences of social learning. Water resources are the context in which his research mainly occurs and he is a Faculty Investigator in the Water Policy and Governance Group.

Findings from his research have been published in leading international journals such as Ecological Economics, Ecology and Society, Environmental Management, Frontiers in Ecology and Society, Global Environmental Change, Journal of Environmental Management, Society and Natural Resources and the UN journal, Natural Resources Forum. In addition, he is the author of Outdoor Recreation (Routledge, 2010), and co-editor of Adaptive Capacity and the Making of Environmental Governance (with D. Armitage, Springer, 2010) and Resilience in Social-Ecological Systems: the Role of Learning and Education (with M.E. Krasny and C. Lundholm, Routledge, 2011). He serves as a Subject Editor for Ecology and Society. The scholarly quality of his research program was formally recognized in 2008 with the awarding of a Chancellor’s Chair for Research Excellence. In 2004 he received the Faculty of Applied Health Sciences Award for Teaching Excellence and in 2008 he was selected as one of the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) Excellence in Education Award winners for Promotion of Sustainable Practices.

PhD, University of Guelph (Rural Studies)
MA, University of New Brunswick (Sport and Recreation Administration)
BOR (Hons), Lakehead University (Outdoor Recreation)
BA, Lakehead University (History)

Julia Baird

E-mail: jbaird@brocku.ca

Assistant Professor, Environmental Sustainability Research Centre 

Julia Baird is an Assistant Professor at Brock University. Julia’s research focuses on the human dimensions of water resources. She is particularly interested in water resilience, improving outcomes of water governance by improving processes, and agricultural impacts on water.

Ph.D. University of Saskatchewan (Environment and Sustainability)
M.Sc. University of Saskatchewan (Soil Science)
B.Sc. (Distinction) University of Alberta (Crop Science)

Marilyn Jollineau


Ph.D in Geography, University of Waterloo

About Marilyne
Dr. Marilyne Jollineau holds a Ph.D. in Geography from the University of Waterloo. She is an Associate Professor in the Department of Geography at Brock University. Since her arrival at Brock in 2003, Marilyne has taught both graduate and undergraduate courses in geomatics; she also participates in the collaborative post-graduate program in Geographic Information Systems – Geospatial Management with Niagara College.

Her research program is largely focused on wetland ecosystems and the use of geospatial technologies, including global positioning systems (GPS), remote sensing and geographic information systems (GIS), to: 1) map and monitor wetland ecosystems and adjacent upland environs in order to better understand their type, structure, and composition, for improved wetland management; 2) measure spatial heterogeneity as a means of quantifying species diversity within wetlands for improved management; and 3) quantify wetland change to better understand the effect of fluctuating climate and water levels on shoreline wetlands, and as a means of assessing management strategies, and their effectiveness, over time.

Current Master of Sustainability candidate under the supervision of Ryan Plummer.

Shannon holds a Bachelor of Social Work and a Social Work Diploma from Grant MacEwan University in Alberta. Her research interests revolve around community engagement in sustainability, attachment to place, and sustainability science translation to communities.

PhD in Sustainability Science student under the supervision of Dr. Jessica Blythe.

Norie holds a master’s degree in Marine Science from the University of the Philippines Diliman – Marine Science Institute. Her research interest includes impacts of climate change to coral reefs and coastal (reef-dependent) communities and understanding the ESG system to improve effectiveness of marine protected areas and networks.

Sydney graduated from Brock University in 2022 with a Honours Bachelor of Science in Biology with a minor in environmental sustainability. She is working under the supervision of Dr. Jessica Blythe. Her research interests involve investing the effects of anthropogenic stressors on ecosystems, as well as improving the connection between academic findings and the general public within the field of sustainability science.

Gillian Dale

Email: gdale@brocku.ca

Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Environmental Sustainability Research Centre

Gillian is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the ESRC. She holds a Ph.D. in Behavioural Neuroscience (Cognitive Psychology) from Brock University, and previously held a Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her previous research explored individual difference factors (i.e., personality, affect, motivational intensity, etc.) that explain variations in cognitive performance and behaviour. She has extensive experience with research design, questionnaire development and validation, and advanced data analysis. Currently, she is interested in extending her line of research by applying her expertise in both human behaviour and advanced data analysis to real-world problems (e.g., water resilience; environmental stewardship).


Ph.D. in Behavioural Neuroscience (Cognitive Psychology), Brock University

Angela Mallette

Email: am16po@brocku.ca

Master of Sustainability, Brock University.

Angela holds a BSc in Biology as well as a BEd in Secondary Education from Bishop’s University, QC. Her interests include biodiversity conservation, stewardship, and environmental education. Her thesis research focused on perceptions of the state of the environment, ecological integrity in parks and protected areas, and the influence of environmental education on perceptions. Angela’s research took place in the Niagara Glen Nature Reserve of the Niagara Parks Commission in Summer 2018.

Bani Maini

Current Master of Sustainability Candidate under the supervision of Jessica Blythe and Ryan Plummer.

Bani is from Rajasthan, India and holds a BSc in Chemistry from St. Xavier’s College, as well as a Post-Graduate Diploma in Liberal Studies and Leadership from Ashoka University. Her research interests include climate change and its effect on communities.

Bridget McGlynn

Master of Sustainability, Class of 2022

Bridget graduated from McMaster University in 2018 with a Bachelor in Integrated Science. Her research interests include water policy and resource management.

Brooke Kapeller

Email: bk17ey@brocku.ca

Twitter: @BrookeKapeller

Master of Sustainability, Class of 2022

Brooke holds a BSc in Geography (concentration in GIS) from the University of Lethbridge, AB, and a diploma in Renewable Resource Management from Lethbridge College, AB. Her interests include environmental stewardship, parks and protected areas, conservation, and geospatial technology. Her thesis research focused on understanding environmental stewardship in the Niagara Region; specifically, how configurations of different stewardship elements may relate to desired outcomes and successful initiatives. This research involved an inventory and mapping of all stewardship initiatives occurring in the region from 2012-2017.

Current Master of Sustainability candidate under the supervision of Dr. Michael Pisaric.

Allison graduated from Mount Allison University in 2020 with a Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Biology and a minor in Environmental Science. Her research interests revolve around the ecological impacts of anthropogenic stressors and climate change. Her thesis research will investigate long-term changes in plant biodiversity in the Canadian Arctic.

Current Master of Sustainability candidate under the supervision of Dr. Ryan Plummer

Savannah graduated from Guelph in 2017 with a Bachelor of Environmental Science, majoring in Ecology. Her research interests include outdoor education, nature connection, the intersection of human and environmental health and environmental psychology.

Current Master of Sustainability candidate (Fall 2021) under the supervision of Jessica Blythe.

Lauren holds a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology from Western University, as well as a Graduate Diploma in Climate Risk Management from the University of Waterloo. Her research interests revolve around municipal climate change responses and community engagement.

In the News

Research Projects

SSHRC Insight Development Grant

SSHRC IDG Project Team Photo 2019
SSHRC IDG Project announcement with Niagara Parks Commission partners at Brock on March 25, 2019

A comparative analysis of approaches to evaluating ecological outcomes from environmental stewardship

Dr. Julia Baird, Dr. Marilyne Jollineau (co-applicant), Dr. Ryan Plummer (co-applicant)

Environmental stewardship is the responsible use, protection, and care of our natural environment through sustainable practices, conservation, and initiatives designed to improve the health of local ecosystems (e.g., habitat restoration; reforestation projects; river restoration initiatives). Although an increasing number of individuals and organizations have committed to engaging in stewardship practices and initiatives, few have the resources to carefully and effectively evaluate the outcomes of these efforts after they have been implemented.

Evaluation is a necessary step that allows us to examine the degree to which anticipated results are achieved, and to learn, adjust, and adapt as needed. However, there are inherent challenges that prevent individuals and groups from undertaking effective evaluations of stewardship efforts including costs, site access and a perceived lack of expertise.

In response to this growing need for appropriate and accessible methods for evaluating the outcome of stewardship initiatives, members of Brock University’s Environmental Sustainability Research Centre, in partnership with Niagara Parks, have recently been awarded a SSHRC Insight Development Grant to conduct a comparison of different methods for evaluating outcomes of stewardship efforts. Led by Dr. Julia Baird, this project will compare the accuracy, cost, expertise required, and ease of data collection between the traditional expert-led field data collection with a series of different methods for evaluating outcomes (remote sensing, citizen scientist observations, visitor observations).

The project will take place at the site of two recent Niagara Parks stewardship initiatives in Niagara Falls and Chippawa, and will involve members of the local community. The findings from this project will help decision-makers and stewards develop appropriate, economical, and accurate methods for evaluating the impact of stewardship efforts on ecological health.

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