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Outdoor classroom inspires students.

Kitsumkalum watershed study.

May 27, 2016

TERRACE, BC--The Kitsumkalum Field School began on May 2 as the sun came up over the glacial-fed waters of Kalum Lake, about 30 kilometers north of NWCC’s Terrace campus. A caravan of 12 students, three instructors, two representatives from the Kitsumklaum community and a very large canoe made their way up the Nass Highway.

It marked the first day of NWCC’s newest experiential learning opportunity and upon arrival to Kalum Lake, the anticipation was electric.  

On the beach, students received an introduction to Biology of Plants and the Geography of Environments and Society. Combined, these two courses make up the curriculum of the field school; assessing ecological diversity, the effects of land disturbance, land-use issues and ecosystem management.

“I get new ways to see my surroundings and expand my knowledge on what’s happening to that environment,” said Tessa Bokla, Earth and Environmental Studies student. “Participating in this school also gives our class a sample of what our jobs are likely to be when working out in the field.”

Undergraduates of various academic programs enrolled in the field school. Some students have a geoscience background and are completing an Earth and Environmental Certificate or Associate Degree in Geo Science at NWCC. Others are students of nursing, education or general studies.

“I came to NWCC a few years ago from India,” said Gagean Gill, a nursing student. “I am in this field school to explore the outdoors and see more of this area and it’s beauty.”

Regardless of backgrounds, students were happy to have the chance to work together.

“It’s a fantastic way to get university credits and meet new people from other programs,” said Kasey Brushey, second-year Geo Science student. “And an amazing way to create community while exploring the great outdoors!”

Learning outside, improving field research skills and experiencing the unique environment of Northwest BC, students are inspired to take an interest in environmental stewardship.

The concept of this field school grew from a partnership between NWCC and Kitsumkalum Fisheries Department.

“I was approached by Kitsumkalum Fisheries to collaborate on researching the watershed,” said Dr. Matthew Beedle, NWCC Professor of Geography. “This is a great opportunity to provide valuable research that will be applied to current and future projects in this region.”

During the three-week field school, students were divided into smaller groups and each assigned a topic to research. Subjects ranged from “glaciers and stream temperatures” to “herbicide contamination.” Their collected data that will also be used in future projects in the Kitsumkalum Watershed.  Both NWCC and Kitsumkalum are keen to see the partnership grow.

“I know NWCC is a resource for bright young minds, scientists, and a dedicated research program,” said Mark Biagi, Kitsumkalum Fish & Wildlife Operations Manager. “We have access to infrastructure, technicians, equipment and materials. Together, we make great partners.”

The data collected will be used in project proposals as supporting documentation. Students can also expect future invites from Kitsumkalum Fisheries Management to assist their technicians who are working in the field.

“I’m proud to see what these students achieved,” said Dr. Beedle. “To move through the first steps of a research project and develop the collected data into final reports in only three weeks is very impressive.”

And although this field school has come to an end, a number of students are enrolled in, and looking forward to, the upcoming People of the Skeena and/or Stewart and Telegraph Creek schools this summer. For more information on this or other NWCC field schools please click here.

Click here to view more great photos posted on our Facebook page.


Students meet at the Terrace Campus and prepare for their first day in the field.


The course's introduction was delivered to students while standing on the beach at Kalum Lake's Ackerman's Point.

By boat is a really great way to study geography.

Collecting data and monitoring stream temperature.

A salamander egg sac found by NWCC's Dr. Catherine White at Pine Lake.

Students huddle around a map as Dr. Matthew Beedle presents though provoking questions about recent impacts to the surrounding landscapes.

Proud students present their final project on an intensive three weeks of data collection.

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