The power of student contributions through learning partnerships

Maarit Robitaille and Stephanie CrossDuring their fourth year in the School of Outdoor Recreation, Parks and Tourism, Maarit Robitaille (nee McCallum) and Stephanie Cross worked on a class project that had been developed in partnership with the North of Superior Tourism Association (NOSTA). The purpose of their project was to evaluate the effectiveness of NOSTA’s brand by conducting surveys with members of the association and visitors to the region. They made several recommendations for the organization, and presented their report to NOSTA in 2007.  The report was not acted upon until 2016 when Executive Director, Dan Bevilacqua found the report in a filing cabinet and implemented many of its recommendations to create a new brand and name for the organization, unveiled at the organization’s 40th Annual General Meeting, November 2016 (see their new website here ). Mr. Bevilacqua was grateful to have found the report, as “the work of Maarit and Stephanie was instrumental towards the rebranding of NOSTA. It was their research that determined the future logo and image of the organization. We will forever be thankful for their work as NOSTA moved forward as Superior Country!” For their part, the ORPT grads were thrilled that even after all these years, their work had been helpful to the organization, “it is empowering to know that our work is being utilized to create positive changes for NOSTAs future”. These types of learning partnerships, where students get to work on real projects and community organizations are able to pursue projects through student participation, are absolute win-win opportunities for both parties.



Underground Gym “Planting Ideas” Program

On November 22 an enthusiastic group of 4th year Lakehead students from the School of Students help at the Underground GymOutdoor Recreation, Parks and Tourism facilitated an experiential "Planting Ideas" program with youth at the Underground Gym in Thunder Bay’s West Fort area.  The program grew from a class project simply titled, “Do Something.” The goal as outlined by Dr. Ryan Howard (Assistant Professor In the School of Outdoor Recreation, Parks and Tourism) was for the students to attempt to engage collectively in the challenge of positively changing the world.

The 23 Lakehead students set their sights on creating and delivering youth programming to empower our future citizens regarding issues of food security, healthy living, community engagement and creativity.  Peter and the youth at the Underground Gym were more than willing to host the Lakehead students.  As part of the program, LU students facilitated a number of group bonding activities that helped build a strong group atmosphere meaningfully connecting the youth with the Lakehead students. Through their intentional programming, the LU students did an excellent job at breaking down some of the barriers of youth buy-in and shyness.  The LU students created a learning environment in which the youth were not bound by a static structure, Cayden (LU Student) remarked "it was unlike what many of us were used to working in traditionally, and it really opened our eyes to the importance of teaching and learning from a place of care and mutual respect."

The youth were extremely receptive, had an amazing time, learned about planting food, and each went home with a decorated and potted herb they each planted to watch grow and use in their future cooking. LU students remarked that they were happy to have had the opportunity to engage with this program, it forced them to imagine a better world, and do something to start realizing that dream. Taking even small steps towards changing the world for the better is vitally important, we saw that on the faces of every youth who participated in the program.

Josh Vissers on his Exchange Semester in Sweden.

Josh VissersJosh Vissers is completing an exchange at Dalarna University in Sweden and was interviewed about his experience.