Students take charge with S-ECO< More Stories
Each group has assessed their projects and created proposals that outline reclamation strategies and solutions. “I think what our next step will be is to reach out to first- and second-year environmental sciences students to do some sampling,” says Ashley Mabbott, who’s S-ECO team is working on reclaiming the ETC remote site.
“For the report we built a complete reclamation and remediation plan. This included drainage channels, how to reclaim the soil and what to do so there's no contamination seepage in the future, but if there is, how to contain it.”
As one of Lakeland’s new student-managed learning opportunities, BASEM students consult with their instructors on the projects, but ultimately are in charge of the direction it will take. Throughout their first semester, students met with their S-ECO teams at least once a week, if not more, in addition to completing their regular course work.
“I was surprised to learn we’d get to take on these projects in a leadership role, but also really excited,” says Ashley Butz. Her S-ECO team created a naming system for the college’s ground wells and mapped out the locations of the existing wells.
“We made suggestions for which ones should be re-drilled or capped. We also think there should be a locking system on them,” says Butz, adding they’ve implemented a five-year monitoring program. It involves routine tests and remediation.
For the ALUS project, the S-ECO team assessed Lakeland’s ALUS land, which is located south of the Vermilion campus adjacent to Highway 16. They focused on its wetlands, which have been trampled by cattle in the past, as well as its lack of plant biodiversity and weed problems.
“We proposed strategies including a weed management plan for invasive species and additional seeding to improve biodiversity. We also proposed to improve the wetlands by planting willows and installing snow fences every five years to enhance snow capture,” says Daniel Sopracolle, a BASEM student. “What we are proposing is to really bring it back to its natural state – it’s rangeland restoration.”
As each group works on their project, they’re not only preparing for their eight-month practicums, but building their resumés as well. They develop valuable practical skills as they assess their projects, develop strategies and execute them.
“S-ECO is a really great opportunity because it shows you how to be a project manager, how to write a proper proposal and so much more,” says Mabbott. “It gives us an opportunity to work hands-on and also be in charge. It shows us what we’ll actually be dealing with and working through when we’re out in the field. I think that’s a huge benefit.”
Giving environmental sciences diploma students the opportunity to work on S-ECO projects provides them with valuable experience as well. “They aren’t just practicing in a lab. With S-ECO they’re working on a real project and building their skills,” says Butz. “Next year, when we pass it on to them they’ll have an idea of what to do. It’s a great opportunity for everyone.”
Photos: Top, bachelor of applied science: environmental management students, including Ashley Mabbott (second from the left) and Ashley Butz (second from the right), meet with their teams and work on their projects in the S-ECO office in Academic Link. Bottom, in the fall students completed work at the ETC remote site (pictured) and other locations for their proposals.