Celebrating sustainability champions, 2023 RCE Saskatchewan Awards recognize three Saskatchewan Polytechnic projects

Image Credit: RCE Saskatchewan
Image Credit: RCE Saskatchewan

Earlier this month, two Saskatchewan Polytechnic applied research projects and a student project were honoured at the 15th annual RCE Saskatchewan Awards for Achievement in Education for Sustainable Development—an event that celebrates champions in sustainability from across the province.

RCE Saskatchewan is the Regional Centre of Expertise on Education for Sustainable Development. The United Nations-acknowledged Center promotes the UN’s 17 sustainable development goals (UN SDGs), and highlights local work being done to educate, encourage and engage others in local action that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

All three Sask Polytech projects were recognized in the post-secondary initiatives and course-based projects by post-secondary students category. Demonstrating the wide definition of sustainability acknowledged by the UN SDGs, projects ranged in subject matter from environmental stewardship to mental health resource access and modernizing mapping technology.

Emma Lake project

The Emma Lake Water Assessment and Environmental Stewardship applied research project is being conducted by Sask Polytech faculty, researchers and a student intern in association with community partner District of Lakeland No. 521. The district’s environmental advisory committee has been conducting environmental sampling at Emma Lake since 2008 in response to degrading water quality. In 2022, Sask Polytech student intern Sukhman Sandhu was engaged to prepare a summary report and educate the public on water quality in a recreational lake setting. As part of Sask Polytech’s Sustainability-Led Integrated Centres of Excellence (SLICE), Natural Resource Technology research chair David Halstead and research associate Leila Benmerrouche supervised the project, working with Wayne Hyde from the environmental advisory committee, District of Lakeland No. 521.

Rescuing Hand-sound-based Bathymetry Maps project

The Rescuing Hand-sound-based Bathymetry Maps project is a student project by Geographic Information Systems (GIS) student Sam Wolkosky, who worked under the supervision of instructor Ryan Galbraith. The project, which was supported by a Sask Polytech Sustainability Initiative Fund (SIF) grant, aims to modernize hand-sound-based bathymetry maps that are currently only available in PDF versions. These paper maps will be turned into georeferenced bathymetry maps with detailed depth contours using ArcGIS Pro software, allowing for more sophisticated calculations to be done, such as volume and area estimates, which can provide valuable information for the Government of Saskatchewan Fisheries Management in determining sample sizes and finding ideal sampling locations.

The Farmer Rancher Mental Health (FARMh) applied research project, led by researcher Dr. Michelle Pavloff, research chair (rural health) with the Centre for Health Research, Innovation and Scholarship (CHRIS), is a patient-oriented applied research project funded by Sask Polytech, the Saskatchewan Center for Patient Oriented Research and the Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation. Currently in its second phase, the project collected data in phase one that was then used to launch the SaskAgMatters Network, which is bridging the gap between agriculture producers and mental wellness supports. Current project work includes creating a toolbox of resources to support producers addressing the unique stressors that exist in farming and ranching.

“Saskatchewan has been and can continue to be a global leader in sustainable development, and all these recipients are positive, focused, creative, and deserving of recognition," says Dr. Roger Petry, RCE co-coordinator. "Each has a wonderful story to tell, and our annual awards ceremony is an opportunity for them to shine.”

"Congratulations to our Sask Polytech RCE award recipients," says Dr. Susan Blum, Sask Polytech associate vice president of Applied Research and Innovation. "Each one of your projects is contributing to a more sustainable future right here in Saskatchewan. We are proud of the work you are doing."

The RCE Saskatchewan Awards for Achievement in Education for Sustainable Development took place in Prince Albert on May 3, 2023. For more information, visit: 2023 Award Recipients – RCE Saskatchewan (saskrce.ca).

To learn more about Sask Polytech applied research and student research, visit saskpolytech.ca/research.

Saskatchewan Polytechnic is signatory to the SDG Accord. Sustainable Development Goal alignment is one of the ways Sask Polytech is leading the rise of polytechnic education.

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Published May 2023.