By Sue Tiffin
It’d be easy to pass by the little U-Links Centre for Community Based Research building at 93 Bobcaygeon Road in Minden without taking much notice of it. You’ve likely walked or driven by it numerous times with your eyes on the turn ahead or the bank entrance. But inside there’s a small team reaching out of that office and making huge connections throughout the community and beyond, partnering students and faculty at Trent University and Fleming College with groups and organizations in Haliburton County to find answers to local questions and solutions for rural problems.
It’s positive and important work, the service of matching a student or class with a research, planning or community service and development project offering a win all around. The students gain practical experience and academic credit to do the work, local community organizations benefit from what would generally be costly research at no charge (or by donation if able) and we all have access to the findings, which often results in information – historic, scientific, social, demographic, economic or environmental – to help us move forward in implementing projects, events and ideas.
Hundreds of these research projects conducted over the past few decades are available through the Haliburton County Collection research database on the U-Links site. You’ve read about much of the work done in stories in this paper, or seen the results of it in tangible assets throughout the community over the years, projects focusing on green burial site options; reducing plastic use at the farmers’ market; the master plan for the Minden Riverwalk; collection and analysis of benthic macroinvertebrates in a lake near you; the impact of the leek moth on garlic grown here or the history of Indigenous habitation in the area to name but a few.
Each year, a Celebration of Research takes place to hear from students and faculty about what they’ve uncovered for their hosts.
While typically the event has taken place in auditoriums around the county, this year marks the second that it will be presented virtually. Last year the event stood out as being well-organized, interactive and quite unique from the typical one-screen meeting we’ve become accustomed to over the past two years. If the technological aspect of the meeting is a bit daunting, the folks at U-Links can help in advance and tech support is available during the event as it happens as well.
Some of the topics this year include weevil farming feasibility for Eurasian water milfoil management; food waste reduction strategies for Dysart et al; management of the Trent-Severn Waterway and the ecological impacts on reservoir lakes; eating disorders in rural communities, and forest health monitoring. There really is something for everyone whether you’re just interested in hearing about the outcomes of research done this year and learning something new, or you want to see how it all works because you or your group might benefit from what the U-Links team can provide.
The Celebration of Research event truly is a celebration of work being done in this community to help it thrive. Mark March 26 on your calendar and join the students, faculty, organizations and community members in learning more.