Madison Penton and her 31 Ecosystem Management Technology classmates boarded a bus to Washington, D.C., on January 22 for the Science, Business, and Education of Sustainable Infrastructure: Building Resilience in a Changing World conference.
The conference, which was presented by the National Council for Science and the Environment (NCSE), is a component of the Urban Ecosystems and Ecosystem Health courses. The event gives students the opportunity to see how a conference is organized and brainstorm ideas for their own conference, which they will host on March 24 at Fleming’s Frost Campus.
Madison and her Urban Ecosystems course team also presented a scientific poster at the conference, which is one of the project options in the Fleming College course. Her team presented on How to play with fire and not get burned: an evidence-based approach to wildfire risk reduction in California.
“I think one of the biggest things I gained from this experience was confidence,” said Madison. “During the conference, we really had to put ourselves out there, push past our comfort zones and take chances. Presenting a scientific poster on an international stage was nerve-racking but rewarding. Although it was scary when scientists and professionals approached us, we felt confident enough to answer their questions. Also, because the conference topics were so relevant to our learning, I felt confident to talk to anyone!”
While the conference gives students the opportunity to listen to scientists and environmental professionals discuss topics they are learning about in the classroom, the Fleming College group also had the opportunity to explore the history and culture of Washington.
“I had a great experience in Washington. Not only was the conference an incredible opportunity for networking and professional gain, but having the opportunity to explore an amazing new city was equally worthwhile,” she said.
Madison chose to take Ecosystem Management Technology at Fleming College after completing the Ecosystem Management Technician program, as she said the extra year will benefit her educational pathway to Trent University.
“My experience in the Ecosystem Management program has been nothing but rewarding. I have gained so much knowledge and passion for the environment I live in,” said Madison. “The opportunities I have had through field trips and out-of-classroom experiences, like the Washington trip, have been incredible for my personal gain. These experiences also provide opportunities for team building and have provided me with an opportunity to build friendships that I will treasure forever.”