Birds of a Feather: Building Student Success Through Research Partnerships

With 89.7 per cent of its graduates finding employment within six months of graduation and a bank of 6,200 employer partners, Georgian College demonstrates how supporting student learning objectives through problem-solving for local business and industry leads to success for all parties. This synergy is especially evident in research projects throughout the college.

Companies draw on Georgian’s expertise in program areas like engineering technology, computer studies, research analyst, business, and environmental studies. They leverage Georgian’s highly developed skillsets, capabilities, equipment, and infrastructure while giving students the opportunity to learn and gain relevant experience in real-world scenarios that only industry can provide. 

Grassland Habitat, Stephanie Sabean

Nicole Barbato is the program co-ordinator for Environmental Technician/Technology programs and the instructor of the Applied Research Project course. She’s one of many faculty members across the college who act as research project leads, matching student researchers with industry clients and guiding them through the research and reporting process. She recently paired Environmental Technology student Stephanie Sabean, who was looking for a project that could incorporate her love of birding, with the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC), an organization whose mission is to conserve important natural areas and biological diversity.

The NCC needed help with grassland habitat restoration projects at two of their properties in Utopia, Ontario. Habitat loss since the 1970s had drastically reduced grassland bird populations in the area.  Before proceeding with restoration, baseline data was required to establish the number of existing species to compare with future numbers post-restoration. Through June 2020 Stephanie performed eight surveys and conducted a literature review. The data she collected in her report will help validate the restoration project and her future management recommendations will guide the NCC through the establishment and preservation of the restored habitat.

Grassland Habitat, Stephanie Sabean

“It was an amazing experience,” said Stephanie. “I was able to research a topic that I have a real passion for, and it has helped to develop the direction of my career. I learned so much and had great support networks in both Nicole and the NCC.”

For Nicole, it’s gratifying to see success on both sides. “The NCC was impressed with the quality of the research and has asked for more ‘exceptional’ students like Stephanie to help with further projects,” said Nicole. But the thing she loves most is watching the growth of her students. “They come into my class with a passion for a particular topic, and to see them take such huge strides analyzing the data and communicating that information confidently just wows me.” 

Businesses and community organizations who would like to participate in applied research projects or are looking for talent to support their research activities can reach out to Georgian’s Research and Innovation department.