Field courses offered by SERS

One of the aspects that makes SERS a unique program is its focus on in-class and in-field learning. Field courses give SERS students the opportunity to gain hands on experience in the field and the chance to form life long memories and friends. SERS offers a variety of field courses that touch a multitude of subjects and invaluable skills that will assist any SERS graduate in their future endeavours!

Field courses also allow SERS students to earn certificates in professionally recognized skills like the Ontario Benthic Biomonitoring Network or OBBN (PDF), Vegetation Sampling Protocol or Electrofishing.

ERS 283 - Ontario Natural History: Species and Patterns

ERS 283 is an immersive one-week field course that will be held on the Bruce Peninsula. In preparation for this intense period, there are readings and LEARN activities in the prior weeks in spring term. Students in the course will be introduced to natural history, the art and science of identifying organisms and observing their behaviour and ecological interactions. From pollinators to water snakes, orchids to warblers, ERS 283 is a once in a lifetime experience and a crash course in the marvels of the natural world. The goal of ERS 283 is for students to form an appreciation for the biodiversity and natural history of Ontario. ERS 283 is an integral step for any SERS student who wants to embrace their love of ecology and or pursue a career as a naturalist.

For more information on ERS 283 check out the undergraduate calender or the ERS 283 syllabi (PDF) from previous years.

I recommend this course to everyone I meet.

I learned so much from this course. I learned not only bird calls and insect ID, but also how to identify key plants, conduct research, and write reports. I have learned so much useful knowledge that I will definitely take forward in my academic and professional career.

ERS 340 - Ecosystem Assessment

ERS 340 is an applied ecology course for those interested in becoming professional ecologists. Multiple-weeks of field skill exercises are undertaken within the Waterloo region that include advanced ecological sampling and experimental design, ecological sample analysis, use of provincially recommended protocols, and intermediate to advanced taxonomic identification skills. Students will also work towards receiving certifications in some professionally recognized programs, such as the Ontario Benthic Biomonitoring Network (OBBN), Vegetation Sampling Protocol and Electrofishing certification program. We are lucky to have OBBN run in house, through the Faculty of Environment’s Ecology Lab. Students are introduced to OBBN sampling methods and monitoring criteria, alongside developing extensive benthic identification skills. During this course, students will be trained by in-field professionals from both aquatic and terrestrial ecological disciplines, allowing students the opportunity to develop both their field skills and develop their network.

For more information on ERS 340 check out the undergraduate calender or ERS 340 syllabi  from previous years.

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.

ERS 341 - Professional Conservation and Restoration Practice

As a three week, Monday to Friday field course, Restoration and Conservation Practice is designed to equip students with the real-world tools and experience that will carry them into their dream jobs, graduate studies, and beyond. Introducing students to monitoring and assessment techniques for land and water, students gain hands-on learning experience in collaboration with partner organizations and experts in the field. This year, the course will also partner with the Campus Living Lab to determine long-term restoration project priorities for the University of Waterloo campus. This course is ideal for students who wish to develop their data collection and analyzing skills as well as skills relating to lab work.

For more information on ERS 341 check out the undergraduate calendar or ERS 341 syllabi from previous years.

Each of the ideas and concepts were continually reinforced through lecture and experiential learning. I realized by the end of the course the amount I learned felt like more learning than I had ever done in my time at the University of Waterloo. It resulted in me gaining confidence in myself and my ability to learn.

This was the most beneficial class I have ever taken. I have come away from this class with an array of knowledge that I am certain I will be taking with me throughout the remainder of my degree and into my future career.

ERS 374 - The Ocean, Human Impacts and Sustainability

ERS 374 is a newer field course being taught by two veteran members of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans: Trevor Swerdfager and Simon Courtenay. The course takes place over a two-week period in Atlantic Canada with a focus on marine science and coastal ecology as well as exploring the impact humans have had on marine and coastal ecosystems and ecology. Students will travel to St. Andrews, NB to visit Canada's oldest government fisheries research lab, the St. Andrews Biological Station, learn about features of the Bay of Fundy and estuaries and then travel to the Halifax, NS area to visit a number of University and government sites. Simon Courtenay and Trevor Swerdfager created this course with hopes that students will have fun and find a life-long love for marine science, an experience that Simon Courtenay experienced himself that set him down the path to where he is today.

For more information on ERS 374 contact Simon Courtenay or Trevor Swerdfager.

An instructor wearing a blue cap is talking to a group of 10 people. All are wearing life jackets.They are on a boat located in a harbour.