U of S researcher brings farmland moose study into Aboriginal classrooms

Aboriginal youth from across southern Saskatchewan will apply both traditional knowledge and western science to a hands-on study of farmland moose through the University of Saskatchewan, thanks to $78,000 over three years from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC).

"The program sets out to deliver meaningful science experiences in the field and in the classroom to Aboriginal youth in our province," said project leader Ryan Brook, team leader in Aboriginal peoples and the environment at U of S.

Brook, also a professor in the Department of Animal and Poultry Science, explained the program is designed to help students develop an understanding of wildlife ecology research through classroom workshops augmented with opportunities for students to learn how to apply both western science and traditional knowledge.

The students will be introduced to Brook's research that looks at key moose  habitats, what the moose are eating, where they are moving, and particularly when and where they cross roads and highways. The work is funded by the Saskatchewan Ministry of Environment, the Saskatchewan Fish and Wildlife Development Fund and the Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation.

"I hope our program can bring students a new awareness of science-focused careers and inspire these students to study science, technology, engineering and math," Brook said, adding that he hopes to help address the lack of options for schools in southern Saskatchewan to engage in science.

The program will integrate many different science tools and approaches, creating a flexible set of in-class and field options for teachers at different grade levels and different schools to choose from that are a best fit for their particular students. Plans call for reaching 60 elementary and 40 high school biology students each year, with a total goal to reach 300 students by the end of the three-year program.

"Our program targets under-represented Aboriginal youth across southern Saskatchewan and responds directly to needs identified by elders and community leaders," Brook said. "We have been told by elders and community leaders that they wish to see programs that train their youth in science while also respecting and incorporating traditional ecological knowledge."

Brook was awarded the funding through NSERC's PromoScience program, which promotes working with young Canadians to foster understanding of science and engineering.

Regular updates and information on how to participate in the study are available at: www.facebook.com/SaskatchewanFarmlandMooseProject


For more information, contact:

Jennifer Thoma

Media Relations Specialist

University of Saskatchewan


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