SERS Stories: ERS 340 Ecosystem Assessment Spring Field Course

Four ERS 340 students under a tarpFor three weeks in May, students had the opportunity to get hands-on experience in many ecological field skills. Further, students worked towards receiving certifications in some professionally recognized programs. One such program, was the Ontario Benthic Biomonitoring Network (OBBN) certification program. We were lucky to have OBBN run in house, through the Faculty of Environment’s Ecology Lab. Students were introduced to OBBN sampling methods and monitoring criteria, alongside the development of extensive benthic identification skills. Leaving campus for the weekend, we traveled to the Bluewater Outdoor Education Centre on the beautiful Bruce Peninsula, where students learned from survival experts from Survival in the Bush, and were introduced to key wilderness survival skills such as fire building and shelter construction. Our final day at Bluewater had students learning key search and rescue skills, such as maps and compass reading, building and using stretchers and how to deal with media. Once back on campus, we made a few day trips to a local farm to experience bird banding and both salamander monitoring techniques. The end of the course had students back on campus to become trained in Vegetation Sampling Protocol, a widely recognised vegetation monitoring methodThree ERS 340 student gaining hands on experience on campus.

Student Quotes:

I enjoyed the content and flow of the course - the final assignment was engaging and interesting. I enjoyed participating in all the different day activities, I feel that I learned more practical skills and knowledge from this course as a field course than any other courses I have taken thus far”

“Field courses permit me to think in a way that traditional classroom courses do not. I was able to connect with students in my program and learn more by doing that. Having small, intimate classes allows a much more conducive learning experience for me. I don't know what I would have done this summer if it weren't for ERS 340 & ERS 283”