Second-year Wildlife and Fisheries Conservation diploma students at Lakeland College gave poster presentations of various birds of Western Canada as part of their Ornithology course on December 5. The posters were set up in the hallway near the cafeteria in Alumni Hall, inviting the attention of everyone who passed by.
Student Denzyl Lessmeister explained that all of the students in the course conducted preliminary research on each of 20 birds that had not been covered in the semester, and then chose one to research in further depth. The students created posters to teach their peers and the community about their chosen species. Lessmeister enthusiastically and very professionally described the unique mating call and fishing and nesting habits of his selected bird, the American bittern. These presentation skills will be useful in professional settings, such as pitching for and speaking at a conference.
The assignment was about more than developing professional skills, though. Student Stephanie Austin explained that the 6-week project fostered community and enthusiasm among the students, encouraging them to talk amongst each other and go out birding together. While some of the students’ birds are common to this area, others, like Ty Holden’s Andean flamingo—which he requested special permission to cover—won’t be seen in the Provincial Park any time soon.
Some students included Indigenous names for their birds, encouraged by instructor Laurel Thompson as an important way of understanding the natural history of their bird. Others featured audio of the birds’ calls. Most posters listed habitat requirements, conservation status, and nesting patterns of the birds, as well as interesting adaptations and quirks.
The Ornithology course is offered to Wildlife and Fisheries Conservation students during the second year of a two-year Diploma in Environmental Sciences. There are also four other majors available through the diploma: Environmental Conservation and Reclamation, General Environmental Sciences, Land Stewardship and Conservation, and Renewable Resource Reclamation. However, possibilities for students to combine their interests are endless. For example, Wildlife and Fisheries Conservation student Stephanie Austin is hopeful that she will be able to entwine her background in wildland firefighting with her education in conservation. Regarding the project, Austin says, “It’s a very cool project, like nothing we’ve done before yet. It’s great because we get to talk with everyone who has come through the hall.”