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Campus Life - Kamloops

Native Plant Restoration To Restore Living Lab


Sylvia Neufeld cuts a stalk of Dalmation toad flax, which is one of the invasive weeds to have overtaken a disturbed area behind Trades and Technology. The area had been part of a larger area that for years has been a living laboratory and research area.

A small strip of land behind the Trades and Technology building is slowly being returned to its natural state and with that, will again be part of a living laboratory and research area for Science students and faculty.

The project will also become a case study for future studies and restorations classes.

Spearheaded by Natural Resource Sciences faculty member Peggy Broad, the goal is to have native plants once again thriving instead of invasive weeds. Last year the area was disturbed by heavy machinery and as a result, loose and powdery soil was created. This provided perfect conditions for a number of dormant invasive plant seeds to germinate and eventually control 90 per cent of the area. Weeds like Dalmation toad flax, yellow mustard, Russian thistle, kochia, and pepper weed.

The weeds are being pulled by hand in order to limit further soil erosion and the spreading of more seeds. In the fall, the area will be planted with vegetation native to the area and now being grown and conditioned to the four seasons in one of the Horticulture program‘s greenhouses.

It’s the middle of July and fourth-year NRS student Sylvia Neufeld has been hired to clear the area. She’s filled more than 100 garbage bags in the month she’s been on the job and says it could take upwards of 200 more. To decrease the chance of the seeds spreading, the bags are being taken to the landfill where they will be buried.

With most of the weeds in advanced flowering or gone to seed, Neufeld is in a race against time. She needs to clear the land before the seeds drop while also handling the plants with enough care so she doesn’t drop too many seeds.

It’s painstaking work, but she doesn’t seem to mind. The work is practical field experience, is refreshing her knowledge of native and invasive vegetation, and of soil types. Neufeld also like the fact she can see what she’s doing will have visual results.

“It’s exciting for me to be part of this project because we don’t know how it’s going to work out. There are so many unknowns that we may learn the answers to,” says Neufeld. “Yellow mustard releases chemicals and we don’t know the effects of those to the ground.”


Concern and sympathy: Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17

24,000 students currently attend Thompson Rivers University. Since almost 20 per cent of them come to us from more than 85 countries around the globe, major international events often carry profound personal impact for TRU… simply because they may touch one of our own.

We have had inquiries regarding one such recent event: the recent crash of a Malaysian Airlines flight. We can now confirm that none of our students were aboard the plane as we have been in contact with the Indonesian Consulate. We will continue with our practise to not disclose any information that may compromise the privacy of any of our students.  This is part of our steadfast commitment to protection of our students’ confidentiality as well as compliance with relevant legislation and privacy guidelines. We wish to express deep concern and sympathy for all affected by this tragic development.



Unique Sustainability Projects With 2 Local Mines

Highland Valley Copper

An aerial view of part of the operations at Highland Valley Copper near Logan Lake.

This article originally appeared in the Spring 2014 edition of TRU’s Bridges Magazine.

By Anita Rathje and Linda Komori

Researchers at TRU are collaborating with two local mining operations on unique environmental sustainability projects that benefit the university, community and industry.

The arid grasslands and scattered ponds at New Gold’s New Afton mine site south  of Kamloops are home to the tiny subjects of a wildlife conservation research project: the Great Basin spadefoot (Spea intermontana). New Gold approached Dr. Karl Larsen in the Natural Resource Science department for help to learn more about these at-risk amphibians, providing the funding for graduate research. Master of Science (Environmental Science) student Jo-Anne Hales is studying how spadefoots use the grassland landscape.

“It amazes me how such a small creature can adapt and survive in this harsh environment,” says Hales. Her project focuses on the habitat selection of spadefoots  within the disturbed landscape at New Afton, an underground gold and copper mine.
She is using radio-telemetry and pond surveys to determine how the spadefoots select  water bodies for breeding and terrestrial sites for foraging and aestivation, to find out what elements of the arid ecosystem around the mine site are important for the animals.

“Knowing that I’m making a difference and contributing to the conservation of the spadefoot is exhilarating,” says Hales. “New Afton has been extremely supportive of my project. They have gone well over and above what I would expect from a financial partner.” Her work and that of future graduate students will help understand the spadefoots’ needs and assist in the development of regional conservation management plans and policies.


Where Education Meets the Internet

This article originally appeared in the Spring 2014 edition of TRU’s Bridges Magazine.

By Larkin Schmiedl

Imagine you just distilled a semester’s worth of research, thought and insight into a great term paper. You hand it in, your professor reads it, and you celebrate that ‘A’ you worked so hard for. Then what? Most likely, that paper goes in the recycle bin, or perhaps the digital abyss of your backup drive, never to be read again.

Brian Lamb asks, “Do we really want students to just have only one or two people reading that work?” As Director of Innovation at TRU’s Centre for Teaching and Learning, he supports faculty to create course projects that put student work online, outside the boundaries of web-based learning management systems like Blackboard or Moodle, accessible to anyone with an Internet connection. Lamb sees an opportunity for students to engage with the world, and to have their writing and research live on as a public resource.

“There’s something to be said for higher education engaging in the world,” he says, “being out on the open web, putting out ideas, fostering knowledge and promoting inquiry.”

TRU Law faculty member Margaret Hall’s Legal Perspectives course is one example. Using TRU’s Kumu Wiki, her students work online in groupto analyze a legal case from the perspective of each of the legal philosophies she covers in the course. Working on a wiki—a collaborative, easily edited and structured website—means all students can view one another’s work as well as the contributions of past students.

“At the end you have this public resource of interesting legal thinking that is readily accessible,” says Lamb. “We have an opportunity to create a more informative, richer, more scholarly web.”

Legal Perspectives wiki page intro

A screen capture of the introductory portion of the wiki page located at http://kumu.tru.ca/Course:Law3020/2014WT1

Another benefit of embracing the web in education is cultivating practical skills students can take with them after graduation. In Dr. Ken Simpson’s Literature of Utopia course, students were assigned a project to create online representations of their utopias, from fictional newspapers to videos.

“They created fantastic websites, and also made really impressive videos,” says Lamb, who provided Simpson with the technological support to make the multimedia assignment possible. “Besides the fact that the students were really engaged and satisfied and proud of what they did… these students, if they go out and apply for a job, they’re going to be able to say look at this website I built, I can do this.”

Lamb encourages educators to embrace the possibilities. “If this thing called the Internet is a profound change in how we receive and consume and collaborate and communicate with one another, I think we have an obligation to try to understand it and take it on.”

Literature of Utopia student site

Legal Perspectives course

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The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet presents its columns "as is" and does not warrant the contents.

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