U of S students lead environmental initiative in the community

SASKATOON - A student-led volunteer group is poised to find out how many plant and animal species live in Saskatoon. Through a partnership with the U of S School of Environment and Sustainability (SENS), Meewasin and Fulbright Canada, students will spend two days conducting field research.   

“The support from Fulbright Canada will provide our students the opportunity to perform valuable work and contribute vital data that will directly inform local policy,” said Toddi Steelman, SENS Executive Director and Fulbright alumna. “I commend the SENS students’ association for leading this initiative to enhance our relationships with like-minded organizations and better serve the interest of our community partners.”  

The School of Environment and Sustainability students’ association (SENSSA) was awarded $4,000 by the Fulbright Canada-RBC Eco-Leadership Program to organize and plan their event. The 2013 EcoBlitz will take place on June 26 and 27 with volunteers taking inventory of the ecological inhabitants north of Saskatoon on Central Avenue.   

Once collected and organized, the data will be used by local engineering firm Stantec as part of an environmental impact assessment regarding new infrastructure in the area. More than 30 volunteers are participating, including representation from the City of Saskatoon and Meewasin.  

“SENS students are strong believers in long-term sustainability of the ecological resources that surround us,” said Anson Main, PhD student and SENSSA president. “We wanted to give back to the community by partnering with organizations addressing future urban needs of Saskatoon while actively managing the natural environment.”  

Once part of the river system, the Small Swale has since disconnected and become its own entity as a rocky, marshy basin. Many diverse, indigenous plant and animal species take up residence there. A similar EcoBlitz in the nearby Northeast Swale, performed by Meewasin in 2011, identified 75 bird species, 11 mammal species and more than 150 plant varieties.      

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For more information:  
Lesley Porter
Communications Specialist, School of Environment and Sustainability
306-966-1019
lesley.porter@usask.ca  

Mike Velonas
Manager of Planning and Conservation, Meewasin
306-665-6887
meewasin@meewasin.com
 

The Fulbright Canada-RBC Eco-Leadership Program provides small grants to current grantees and alumni of the Fulbright Canada program to partner with local organizations in order to make a significant positive environmental impact to their community.