Partnership for Restoration and Learning
Carolinian Canada Coalition, Municipality of Chatham-Kent and Western University partner for restoration and learning
In the fall 2013 term, the Biology3222F (Special Topics in Restoration Ecology) class partnered with Carolinian Canada Coalition and the Municipality of Chatham-Kent to provide students with a unique learning experience allowing them to apply theory they learn in the classroom to a real world scenario. The class is run as a Community Service Learning course which includes community service with local partners. Groups of students worked on projects related to management and restoration of habitat along the Canada South Corridor in eastern Chatham-Kent, which will be converted to a natural heritage multi-use trail. The many challenges of restoring the former rail corridor are opportunities for students at Western University to learn the science and practice of restoration. The class included a field trip to the corridor where students were able to study the site and collect data to help them write their plans.
Each group prepared a presentation, a report and a trail sign on their chosen site – forests, prairies, woodlands and a drainage ditch. Students looked up historical maps of the area, researched habitat types and restoration methods, set goals for restoration and developed ways to measure success of projects. One group even prepared a 3-D model of their site!
In addition each student interviewed a local landowner, community member or professional to find out more about their connection to nature. Students used the interview to write stories celebrating nature in Chatham-Kent. The interview also provided the opportunity to get to know the community in which they were working and added inspiration for creative trail design.
All projects were submitted to Carolinian Canada Coalition and the Municipality of Chatham-Kent. The partners benefited from the fresh perspective and energy of enthusiastic students who are able to bring current research to the planning and decision making for the corridor. In addition, this partnership engaged a younger generation in their community and showed them the many benefits of volunteering their skills.