Towards the end of summer, small groups of graduate students were out on the Symons Campus with measuring tape and notebooks, studying the campus lands as part of a capstone course for the Masters of Bioenvironmental Monitoring and Assessment. This one-week intensive course occurs in person at the Peterborough campus and consolidates knowledge developed by students over eight months of online learning and a four-month summer placement.
The course is designed to mimic the work of an environmental consultant, asking students to perform an environmental impact assessment (EIA) on an aspect of the Trent campus. The University Green Network, which includes 11 Nature Areas available for study, makes the Trent Lands an exceptionally rich natural lab for students learning to survey and assess land—important skills for those wishing to work for environmental organizations.
Preparation for careers in the environmental sector
As employees of the mock company BEMA-Consulting, groups in the capstone course are “hired” by interested parties to study particular tracts of land on the Trent Symons Campus. They are given a week to do two site visits, collect and evaluate existing records and mapping, and develop two reports. At the end of their one-week course, groups come together to present their findings.
“The capstone course provides the opportunity to integrate all the skills and knowledge I have accumulated throughout my studies and apply it to a real-life scenario, as well as collaborate with classmates with different backgrounds. It’s a smaller program, and the professors were great and really cared about trying to make it a beneficial experience,” said M.BEMA student Sara Casey.
One M.BEMA group was tasked with assessing the future site location for the peopleCare not-for-profit long-term care (LTC) home—the first step of the University-Integrated Seniors Village. The Stage 1 Site Plan for the LTC home has already been submitted to the City of Peterborough and includes forward-thinking steps that Trent took in collaboration with local First Nations to complete a detailed Environmental Impact Brief, featuring a Four-Season Environmental Monitoring, and Natural Heritage Compensation Plan.
The students completed their own assessment by walking the site at Water Street and Woodland Drive to conduct a preliminary survey of landcover features, plants and animals, hydrology, and possible needs for further assessment of the development project.
“The environmental impact assessment done by GEI consulting [previously hired by Trent] contained adequate measures for lessening the impact of the proposed Seniors Village. Our group decided to add some additional recommendations that we thought were necessary to mitigate environmental impacts further,” said M.BEMA student, Carley Kelly. Mitigations considered for the next stage of site planning touched on light, noise, and movement disturbances from the future buildings.