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Summer 2015

Newsletter Archive


Student Profile - Winston Jamieson

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My motivations for studying Environmental Science stem from a desire to understand the complexities of natural systems as much as they have from a passion for the beauty of nature. I've always found an undefinable sort of serenity in nature, especially in places that have remained untouched by human endeavors. One of my fondest and most vivid memories of the natural world comes from a time in high school when my graduating class went on a week-long retreat to a secluded cabin in the Rockies. One day in particular we went on hike; the trail was on a ridge overlooking a powerful mountain river. The air was dampened by the mist being thrown into the air by the rapids. The vegetation was dense and untamed. I remember very distinctly the feeling of awe at the power of the river juxtaposed with the calm of the vegetation on its banks. It was here I began to grasp the complexity of ecosystem dynamics. It soon became clear to me after beginning my studies in Environmental Science that understanding the complexity of natural systems was not sufficient to preserve them. I was compelled to protect them according to the best of my ability and education.

I once had an opportunity to attend a presentation by one of the members of the Miistakis Institute, Greg Chernoff. In reality, attendance at this presentation was obligatory because it was part of a class I was taking at the time. Nevertheless, Greg's presentation exposed me to the work that Miistakis does and inspired me. Ever since, I have put Miistakis on a unique pedestal in my mind. Above all, I was drawn to their focus of using practical science to tackle complex environment related issues.

This summer I had the opportunity to work with Miistakis to develop a paper for publication in a peer-reviewed journal. The focus of the paper was to report the results of a survey conducted by Miistakis on the economic impacts beef producers in Alberta experience when their cattle are killed by carnivores. It turns out that the policies and programs in place to protect beef producers from these economic losses are not well received by many beef producers. What I've taken away from studying this conflict, more than anything, is the power and necessity of collaboration; it has become apparent to me that many environmental conflicts may originate from a breakdown in communication and can potentially lead to residual impacts. Working with Miistakis has exposed me to some of the available methods of understanding the complexities of preservation and conservation and that the actual role people play in them should not be mired in minutia or treated as marginal. I understand now that being able to consider more avenues to addressing these complex dynamics is a skill that will apply itself to most aspects of my life beyond my career in Environmental Science. My opportunity to work with Miistakis this summer has been a tremendous honor.