Hello, my name is Kailey Webster, and I am from Uxbridge, Ontario. I am a fourth-year student studying community recreation at Brock University. This past school year, I was presented with the opportunity to work with Community Researchers and CARHA Hockey in conducting nationwide research. I completed this research as part of my fourth-year individual thesis course, RECL 4P27 and will be graduating in June with a great deal of new knowledge and perspective gained from this experience.
Throughout the four years of my bachelor’s degree, I have taken courses that identify the current issues facing the recreation and sports industry. The problem that I have been most intrigued by is the impact that our facilities have on the environment. For example, “the NHL features one of the biggest carbon footprints in world sport, with the NHL Emissions Report revealing that it produces more than 1,430 tonnes CO2 in carbon emissions in 2019 in travel to and from away fixtures”. This current issue is why I was intrigued when presented with the opportunity to work with CARHA Hockey to assess the intent of facilities within Canada to become greener.
Throughout this experience, I was required to attend four different workshop sessions with Community Researchers in their Community Improvement Research Training Program. The first module was intended to inform researchers on conducting a needs assessment with our clients. We were subsequently tasked with creating a needs assessment document for all parties to sign. Through this, we established the following objectives of the research project;
- To assess the interest and intent of arenas nationwide to go ‘green’ or the desire to implement action to be more ‘green.’
- To determine the barriers that arenas face in becoming more ‘green.’
- To determine what support community facilities need to become more ‘green.’
- Other related objectives required by CARHA Hockey and its partners.
The second workshop focused on data collection. In this session, we discussed types of data collection, software and best practices, building surveys, and were tasked with creating our data collection surveys for our clients. Creating a survey was a lengthy process, and many samples were made before the survey was finalized. The final survey consisted of 52 questions strategically formatted for analytical purposes. Once the survey was sent out, we acquired 63 respondents and moved on to the next step.
The third workshop focused on data analysis. In this module, we learned how to export the data to a spreadsheet, perform calculations within the spreadsheet, and how to utilize crosstabs and filters. Once all of the data was organized and analyzed, I then moved on to the next session.
The final session focused on report writing. During the final steps of the research study, I learned how to create graphs and tables from my research, put my findings into words, and effectively communicate the results to the public.
I am very grateful for the opportunity that I have received in conducting my first research study with Community Researchers and CARHA Hockey. The following are the main takeaways from the survey conducted.
- Most respondents are interested in implementing professional development concerning greener facilities.
- Three-quarters of facilities do not employ a position responsible for representing environmental sustainability.
- Most facilities do not implement an on-ice green initiative that is outlined by NHL Greener Rinks.
- Facilities implement a significant amount of green initiatives that are outlined by NHL Greener Rinks in off-ice areas.
- The average period between maintenance procedures on various facility amenities is one year.
- Most facilities are interested in implementing the green initiatives mentioned in the survey.
- Overall, the barriers that arenas face in becoming greener are lack of funding, lack of staff capacity, and facility structure.
- Respondents offered comments on the barriers they face in becoming greener.
You may find more details on these findings in the final report.
Throughout this experience, I have taken away two lessons that will benefit me moving forward in my studies as I return to Brock University for a Master of Arts degree in Applied Health Sciences.
Lesson 1: Communication
The most crucial aspect of working with a team is communication. Without effective communication between all parties, certain needs will not be met. In the beginning, this was a challenging practice for me as I had never worked with a group of professionals on such a substantial project. Through my challenges, I learned that asking questions and remaining open to new ideas is essential in identifying objectives when establishing a needs assessment. When projects are passed from the client (CARHA) through many individuals before the idea reaches the student (me) taking on the project, the project’s main objectives may be lost in communication. Therefore, it is essential to have direct and open contact with the clients. When I took on this project, I had already thought of many interesting ideas and possibilities of where this research could lead. However, I had not yet met with my client. When I finally met with them, I realized that their ideas might have been misinterpreted in some areas before the concepts were introduced to me. This obstacle was not a massive deal as, through open communication, we were able to establish the direct objectives that CARHA was hoping to achieve through this study.
Lesson 2: Accountability
Another important lesson that I learned through my experience as a community researcher was being accountable for my work. In the past four years of my undergraduate degree, I have gotten used to having all of my work lined out for me with clear directions and due dates. Therefore, I had never truly experienced what it was like to be accountable for an entire project from start to finish. This study allowed me to experience this new element of responsibility. As with many young learners, I was not perfect from the get-go. However, I do believe that I have learned what is required from someone who is taking the lead on a project like this. I have learned that accountability is not just about completing your work but is also about remaining in contact with stakeholders, sending updates, and ensuring your work is high quality, among many other tasks that underline the accountability of your work.
I would like to thank Michael Harker for his support on this project and Martha Barnes for providing this opportunity. I would also like to thank CARHA Hockey for trusting me with this project and allowing me to improve my research skills through this work. I believe that through this experience, I am able to identify critical personal areas that I need to improve on. I intend to work toward becoming a more well-rounded research professional that will be respected and trusted within the industry.