For the third consecutive year, students in Lakeland’s bachelor of applied sciences: environmental management (BASEM) program wrapped up their year with the Conference on Environmental Management.
This year, the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a scaled-down approach highlighting the students as the only presenters as they shared their capstone presentations digitally on March 16, 18 and 25.
Twelve students successfully completed the practicum and capstone requirements they needed to graduate. Nearly 600 people RSVP’d to watch as the students shared presentations on themes that included species protection, water quality monitoring, technology in the environment and more.
“At Lakeland, we truly value our relationships and strong connection to industry,” Geoff Brown, dean of environmental sciences, says. “We are very appreciative of the industry support that we receive with our students work placements and the Conference on Environmental Management. BASEM
has always had a strong work integrated learning component which leads to strong employment outcomes for our graduates. This aligns nicely with Advanced Education’s recent emphasis on work integrated learning.”
Following the conference, the presentations were evaluated and two presenters were chosen as award recipients: Matthew Gerolami and Kayla Hellum.
“Matthew and Kayla are excellent examples of how well this can work to produce a job-ready graduate,” Brown says. “My congratulations go out to both students. They did a great job.”
Hands-on work experience
Gerolami was chosen as the winner of the 2021 Trace Associates Lakeland College Capstone Award for BASEM presentation in the stream of reclamation and remediation. His presentation was on SRF – Saturated Rock Fills: Selenium and Nitrate Removal.
Chris Tenszen, practice area lead of reclamation for Trace Associates, congratulated Gerolami, saying, “Trace is pleased to support the 2021 Conference on Environmental Management and other college events, so that Lakeland College can continue to produce the top-notch graduates that are essential to our industry workforce. This year we are proud to sponsor the award received by Mr. Gerolami. He did an excellent job preparing and delivering his presentation and his topic about selenium and nitrate removal from mine drainage water was very relevant to current trends in our industry. Great job, Matthew.”
Gerolami came to Lakeland after graduation with a bachelor of science in biology from the University of Ottawa. He was looking for some hands-on experience to help find a position in the industry and was drawn to the eight-month practicum component of the BASEM program.
“It was pretty awesome to be selected for the Trace Associates award,” he says. “I don’t usually win awards so it was a new experience for me and pretty exciting, especially for a project like this.”
Gerolami completed his practicum at Teck in Sparwood, B.C. His project focused on how saturated rock fills remove selenium and nitrate. The biggest struggle he had was that since so much of the technology is new, the documentation is confidential and he wasn’t able to use a lot of the data and studies.
“It was definitely interesting to work on something that was so new,” Gerolami says, despite the difficulties he had when it came to his project. “I surprised myself a little bit with how well it turned out, after worrying for so long that I wasn’t going to be able to pull it off due to having to restart multiple times because of the confidential nature of the data and having very little time left to complete it. But the more research I did, the more it all came together and I was happy with the final result.”
Customized environmental education
Hellum is this year’s ECO Canada Student Impact Award recipient for her project, Aquatic Monitoring Program for a Nearby Gas Plant.
“ECO Canada is proud to support the Student Impact Award which recognizes the achievements of emerging environmental professionals,” says Hannah Williamson, program manager, training and events, ECO Canada. “This year’s winner Kayla Hellum demonstrated outstanding technical knowledge in her presentation about aquatic monitoring.”
Hellum, from Bonnyville, Alta., enrolled in the BASEM program after completing an environmental sciences diploma at Lakeland, majoring in conservation and restoration ecology
. She completed her eight-month practicum with Summit in Lloydminster and accepted a position there when her placement was finished.
“My practicum placement went really well, it gave me the opportunity to work on a variety of projects,” Hellum says. “I had a few different ideas for my capstone, but I really enjoyed the aquatic monitoring program for a nearby gas plant that I had the chance to work on.”
Hellum came to Lakeland’s environmental sciences diploma program because it gave her the opportunity to customize her program to align with the direction she wanted her career to go in.
“With four different majors, it granted me the ability to choose the environmental stream I wanted to be in, without being too broad.” she explains. “I started with conservation and restoration ecology, which focuses on vegetation, and incorporates soils, wildlife, and water. After the completion of my diploma, I enrolled in BASEM, majoring in reclamation and remediation. I chose to do my project on the aquatic monitoring program to create a positive outlook on monitoring programs particularly with regard to the oil and gas industry.”
In her research, Hellum focused on surface water sampling for a variety of chemical constituents. During the course of her project, she came to some interesting conclusions.
“We sampled a variety of areas around the gas plant, from greater to lesser exposure, and documented the changes downstream,” Hellum says. “I learned that overall, as suspected, the gas plant I was studying was not causing any adverse effects to the environment.”
Hellum is appreciative of her experience in the BASEM program, with Summit, her host agency, and for being chosen as the ECO Canada Student Impact Award winner.
“I had a great experience with this project and in this program,” Hellum says. “I am thankful for the support from Summit and the college and am truly honored to have been chosen for this award.”
This year’s conference was made possible by sponsors Bill Bocock, ECO Canada, Matrix Solutions Inc., Ridgeline Canada Inc. and Trace Associates. Practicum host agencies were Ducks Unlimited, Canadian Wildlife Service, Golder, the Metis Nation of Alberta, Parks Canada, Piperino Land Services, Ram River Environmental, Summit, Teck Resources, Thorhild County and Woodlands North.
Photos: (Top) Kayla Hellum (Centre) Matthew Gerolami (Bottom) Kayla Hellum