By Marcelo Kawanami
Hi everyone! This is our first post of 2015, and it could not be better! I had the privilege of interviewing Ms. Linda Skilton, PhD, Dean and Principal of Frost Campus at Fleming College. Gamiing Nature Centre and Fleming College’s School of Environmental and Natural Resource Sciences (SENRS) have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to further develop and strengthen our relationship. Due to this reason, I wanted to know from Linda her opinion on the benefits of this partnership and also her point of view regarding environmental trends.
Gamiing: The School of Environmental & Natural Resource Sciences (SENRS) atFleming College has a focus on active, outdoor, and hands-on learning. What are the main benefits that you believe that the partnership with Gamiing Nature Centre will bring to your students?
Linda: The students at the Frost Campus have been involved with many activities at Gamiing including course work in the Ecosystem Management program through the Credit for Product course, field placement in various programs and so on. The formalized partnership MOU that was signed in December 2014 will ensure our involvement with Gamiing in the future and lead to more activities for our staff and students.
Gamiing: According to a recent article from McKinsey, there is a chronic under-investment in leadership development within the fast growing social sector (which includes environmental organizations). What are the main attributes that you believe that the future leaders of these organizations need to have and that are being developed on SENRS students?
Linda: From the time that our students enter our programs at SENRS, we assist them in developing their leadership skills. These skills are developed through a number of courses and the applied activities that students participate in throughout their program of study. Many assignments include project/team work where the students are expected to demonstrate their leadership skills. Future leaders in the environmental sector need to be knowledgeable, critical thinkers, innovators and possess excellent communication skills. It is not only important to have the technical knowledge but it is critical that graduates can are able to communicate with those who may not have environmental knowledge. There are big environmental problems in need of big solutions and leaders who can contribute to the change necessary to address these problems. Colleges are investing in leadership development and our graduates are demonstrating these skills in a variety of careers in the environmental sector.
Gamiing: Partnerships with community stakeholders including the private sector, universities, and government are key to drive the growth of nonprofit organizations. In your point of view, how can we increase the engagement of community stakeholders and promote partnerships like the one between SENRS and Gamiing?
Linda: SENRS has over 100 partners including Kawartha Conservation, the Ontario Clean Water Agency, the City of Kawartha Lakes and Trent University. Our partners are both public and private sector, local, provincial, national and international. Partners bring opportunities for our faculty, staff and students to engage in applied activities and joint ventures that would not be possible to do on our own. Our partnerships are always growing and expanding with the goal of working collaboratively to achieve goals that contribute to positive change in our world. Increased engagement comes naturally when people rally around and are passionate about the things that matter. What matters to our staff, students and partners are clean air and water, social justice, food safety and security and the protection of our natural resources. Our shared goal is on the overall health and sustainability of our planet.