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Charlottetown PE Green Job Initiative student Success Story

Charlottetown PE

Summer Student Feels ‘Lucky’ to Study Underwater Habitats

This summer, Lucas Sherry delved underwater to learn how the environment is affecting aquatic life.

And, his research will help restore the habitats impacted by climate change.

Thanks to funding from the CPRA’s Green Jobs Initiative, which is funded in part by the Government of Canada’s Summer Work Experience program, the Southern Gulf of St. Lawrence Coalition on Sustainability (Coalition-SGSL) was able to hire Lucas and one other student to work as Environmental Technicians.

The Coalition-SGSL works with federal government departments and local watershed groups to carry out environmental research.

Lucas focused his work on mapping and restoring eelgrass - an ecologically significant species that is an important habitat for a variety of species including Atlantic salmon.

“Eelgrass is an ecologically significant species and our research provides insights on the effects of changing ocean climates,” explains Lucas, an environmental studies and political science student. “We will better understand what activities can impact eelgrass, as well as understand seasonal variation to give a more accurate understanding of eelgrass in these habitats.”

Specifically, Lucas used sonar to monitor eelgrass in ecosystems in the Southern Gulf Region - which includes New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and PEI - to understand the density and distribution of eelgrass in these ecosystems.

“The monitoring we are conducting will give us a more realistic picture of the aspects impacting the density and distribution of eelgrass,” he explains.

For Lucas, every day on the job was different. Each day he was in a different province, conducting research in an estuary that he had never sailed before.

“Eelgrass is an ecologically significant species and our research provides insights on the effects of changing ocean climates” - Lucas Sherry, student

Each estuary also had its own unique activities happening, he says – caused by both nature and humans.

“I’ve been able to see first-hand the contrast between a healthy and an unhealthy ecosystem,” Lucas explains. “There are various contributing factors to ecosystem health, and our job is to identify these factors, understand them and work to improve these ailing ecosystems. Although some may be ailing, they’re still resilient and deserve our attention.”

Angela Douglas, executive director of SGSL, says that Lucas gained great experience working with environmental organizations such as non-profits, watershed groups, and federal and provincial governments.

“We partner with local groups to train them in monitoring techniques and share our results,” Angela says.

She adds that the coalition hosted “mapping days” in Port Mouton, Nova Scotia over the summer. This included a community beach event with the local watershed group, Parks Canada, the Ecology Action Centre and others.

“Each of these habitats have their own unique beauty and makeup, which make conducting research within them both fascinating and serene” - Lucas Sherry, student

This family-friendly, educational event helped residents and visitors learn more about underwater habitats.

Angela says she would “absolutely” apply for the funding again, and that hiring Lucas helped the coalition further pursue its research which will have an positive impact on the aquatic life in the Southern Gulf Region for generations to come.

“This funding has enabled us to hire an experienced student, thus requiring less time training and more time doing research,” she says.

Lucas says the green job with Coalition-SGSL allowed him to work in picturesque areas, network with wonderful people, and constantly learn.

“Each of these habitats have their own unique beauty and makeup, which make conducting research within them both fascinating and serene,” he says. “I consider myself lucky to do what I do.”

The CPRA’s Green Jobs Initiative supports Goal 3 ‘Connecting People & Nature’ and Goal 5 ‘Recreation Capacity’ within the Framework for Recreation in Canada. The Framework serves as a foundation for the work of the parks and recreation sector.

To read all success stories go to: https://www.cpra.ca/stories