Students in the Selkirk College Integrated Environmental Planning Program spent a week at the Hakai Institute in early-April as part of the field trip element of their studies. Hakai Institute researcher Derek Heathfield (left) and Selkirk College student Brent Rayner (right) take part in a 3D drone mapping exercise that is mapping the coastline and determining processes in sand dune formation. (Selkirk College)

Selkirk College students visit remote research station

A group of 10 Selkirk College students spent a week studying the impacts of climate change.

CASTLEGAR – A group of 10 Selkirk College students in the Integrated Environmental Planning Program (IEP) spent a week off-grid on the west coast studying the impacts of climate change on a delicate ecosystem.

Just prior to completing their two-year IEP diploma, students and their instructors traveled from Castlegar to Calvert Island on the central coast of British Columbia. As part of the requirements for a spring field trip, students spent five days at the Hakai Institute applying the knowledge they have gained in the past two years to an entirely different ecosystem.

“This was an incredible opportunity for our students,” says Doris Hausleitner, the Selkirk College instructor who teaches the field trip study course along with Peter Golden. “The objectives of the trip were to draw complementary connections between concepts covered in the curriculum and real-world situations in environmental management practices. We were not disappointed.”

West of the community of Bella Bella, the Hakai Institute is a remote research station run by the Tula Foundation. Based on Calvert Island, they conduct research on the central coast, an area that has been difficult to access and was historically under-studied. Their mandate is to monitor long-term changes in this ecosystem due to climate change. “It was particularly inspiring to meet passionate staff members that believe in the institute’s vision of long-term scientific research and are committed to the achievement of common goals,” says Isabelle Desmarais, a second-year student in the IEP Program.

Over a five-day period in early-April, students had the opportunity to apply their classroom studies and numerous field work outings over the last two years at a critical juncture of their education. “Interacting with the researchers at Hakai was both motivating and inspirational,” says second-year student Eric Walton. “Seeing that we had successfully developed a solid foundation of knowledge and skills during our program that would enable us to take part in projects of this magnitude was an empowering experience.”

Applied studies are an important part of the Selkirk College program that prepares students for career oriented professional opportunities in land use planning, environmental management and environmental technology.

The field trip was sponsored in part by the Tula Foundation, Columbia Power Corporation, Seepanee Ecological Consulting and PNA Accounting.

“We were fortunate to have community partners who aided in the fundraising for this trip,” says Golden. “To be at a world-class station like the Hakai Institute, surrounded by academics and professionals, was very inspirational for the group.”

Find out more about the Hakai Institute at: https://www.hakai.org/

Learn more about the Selkirk College Integrated Environmental Planning Program at: http://selkirk.ca/program/iep