Something for all: objectives to benefits!

In the early 1980s, a group of marine dealers in Manitoba and Northwestern Ontario joined forces to present everything you would need to enjoy an excellent boating experience. As a result, a new trade show gaining in popularity led these suppliers to Winnipeg in support of the new Mid-Canada Boat Show. Over the years, the mission and vision have evolved to host one of the most successful marine trade shows in Canada focusing on issues that impact the industry, its members, you … and the environment.

Decisions involving this industry bear profound economic and environmental impacts making most decision-making processes rife with controversy for the almost 40,000 in attendance. For this reason, our fisheries management class felt it beneficial to offer our classroom and scientific contribution to aid in the reduction of uncertainty in recreational fisheries planning for those willing to stop by our booth highlighting the aging of walleye!

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Our fisheries instructor suggests we can no longer continue to produce technicians who are unable to understand mixed complexities; nor can we continue to produce students unwilling to engage with the public in order to address conservation challenges in a rigorous manner. As the next generation of environmental technicians must have interdisciplinary training, we need students to address difficult natural resource challenges unyielding to the powers of industry. Classroom opportunities must therefore adapt accordingly. Hence, integrating relevant scenarios and non-traditional assignments like attending the 2019 Mid-Canada Boat Show provides University College of the North students training opportunities that will reflect the conflicted situations they will face in their future professional worlds.

As a graduating Natural Resources Management Technology (NRMT) program student at UCN, earning the opportunity to participate with classmate Shelby Desjardin in a seven-month walleye (Sander vitreus) age and growth fisheries management project was incredibly rewarding. Besides navigating through countless and sometimes “weedy” questions, our confidence soared! Many patrons congratulated and thanked us for our academic efforts!

Exuding passion and confidence even further, Doug Lauvstad, UCN’s president and chief executive, also helped to inspire and engage in our development by motivating promise and articulating a vision. As a leader of a northern educational enterprise and one that touts (and asks) its students to aspire, president Lauvstad helped us to synthesize a visionary way to create a strategy for NRMT student success and distinction.

Essentially, our boat show intent was to inspire and educate the boating and angling public about Manitoba’s “provincially designated fish” - the walleye. However, our research objective was to obtain definite information concerning the rate of growth (and relative condition factor) for walleye in Northern Manitoba inland lake basins … and share it with the public!

In sum, our rationale for attending the Mid-Canada Boat Show was to help ethically educate the public regarding scientific study and resource protection, all while stressing that knowledge of this species’ age and growth is fundamental to fishery science and good public angling practices. Letting them go unharmed (particularly when young) and knowing a bit more about them is only an added benefit! It is why I came to school. My name is Alex Sawchyn and I thank you for participating in “my” class.

Alexander Sawchyn is a fisheries management graduate from the Natural Resources Management Technology program at University College of the North in The Pas.

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