BASEM Students Take Studies to Sri Lanka

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February 9, 2017
Students in Lakeland’s bachelor of applied science: environmental management (BASEM) program will travel more than 12,860 kilometres for an international field trip to Sri Lanka during spring break.
The Minneriya National Park
Elephants, rainforests, a river restoration project and much more are on the BASEM students’ itinerary when they spend 10 days in the South Asia island country.

“Sri Lanka is a country that few people know about or travel, so it’s a great opportunity to learn about this unique country,” says Daniel Sopracolle, a BASEM student and grad of the conservation and restoration ecology major. “One of the things I am most excited for is to see the vegetation in Sri Lanka. I want to see what a rainforest looks like.”

The entire BASEM class – 13 students – and three instructors, including environmental sciences chair Mal Dissanayake, will depart for Sri Lanka on Feb. 17. The other instructors are Cassandra Specht and James Woodhouse.

A former resident of Sri Lanka, Dissanayake has been integral to planning the trip.

“Mal has us doing something every day we are there, except for the first day because of the 12-hour time difference,” says Ashley Butz, a BASEM student and grad of the environmental conservation reclamation major. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. It’s one thing to go to a country but to travel with locals, including Mal, and have guided tours is an incredible opportunity. We are going to see it all and take it all in over those 10 days.”

BASEM students will visit a river diversion project for elephant and human interactions, a river dam project that Canada funded, a tea factory, an elephant orphanage and various cultural sites. They’ll also go on safaris in Minneriya and Maduru-Oya National Parks and visit the Environmental Sciences Department of the University of Sri Jayewardenepura to share their work within the Student-Environmental Consulting Office (S-ECO) and highlights about Canada.

While in Sri Lanka, BASEM students are required to keep a daily journal with which they’ll prepare a report when they return to campus.

“I like that we are going to be learning about environmental sciences internationally. We’re broadening our horizons of what we can go do. We don’t have to limit ourselves to Alberta or Saskatchewan, we can do so many different things around the world,” says Ashley Mabbott, a BASEM student. “Hopefully this opens doors for future students.”
sri lanka
To prepare for their field trip, BASEM students have been fundraising since the fall. They held a raffle, a steak night complete with a silent auction and 50/50 draw, and a bottle drive to help with the costs of the trip. They raised approximately $15,000 for their trip.

Dissanayake formulated a comprehensive proposal and successfully applied for a Campus Alberta Grant for International Learning (CAGFIL). The CAGFIL program received 78 applications from 14 institutions with an expected participation of nearly 1,500 students this year. The ministry approved 34 of these education abroad programs, including two of Lakeland’s applications including Mal’s, which means students will receive $750 each towards the trip.

“It’s going to be the highlight of our year,” says Butz. “We’ve done a lot of fundraising and a lot of projects as a class to be able to experience this incredible opportunity. It’s really taught us to be able to work together as a team.”

Photo: The Minneriya National Park is one of many places in Sri Lanka that BASEM students will visit during spring break.

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