U-Links, Haliburton County’s independent Community-Based Research Centre, has appointed a new Director: Dr. Andrew M. Gordon replaces Amanda Duncombe-Lee who stepped down in July to spend more time with her family. Gordon has been with the organization since July 1 on a part-time basis, and as of September 1, has moved into the full-time role of director. The Management Committee of U-Links thanks Amanda for her years of leadership at U-Links and the incredible contributions she has made to the growth and development of the program and welcomes Dr. Gordon to his new role.
Gordon has a Bachelor’s degree in Forest Science from the University of New Brunswick and a Ph.D. in Ecosystem Ecology from the University of Alaska. He retired in 2017 from the University of Guelph, where he was a professor for more than 32 years in the fields of forest ecology and agroforestry, the incorporation of trees into farming systems. His career took him around the world on many occasions and he has worked from the arctic to Patagonia to tropical countries such as Ghana, Indonesia and Vietnam. He has a special interest in the interaction of aquatic and terrestrial systems stemming from his days in New Brunswick and is following the debate on the shoreline bylaw with considerable interest.
Gordon stresses that Haliburton, where he and his family moved to in 2019, is a very familiar place to him. “My dad worked at the Frost Centre and the earliest picture I have of myself is of me in a sleigh in Dorset in 1956! During the early 1970’s I spent a lot of time hitch-hiking through parts of Haliburton County, and during my career I developed numerous forestry courses that were offered through the Frost Centre by the University of Guelph. My in-laws’ family have been Haliburton County residents for decades.”
U-Links is North America’s only rural Community-Based Research Centre created as a part of the Haliburton County Community Co-operative by a group of inspired local residents and Trent University professors in 1999. The foundation for U-Links was formed through an interdisciplinary bioregionalism program run by Professors Tom Whillans and John Wadland that focused on the Haliburton Highlands. Gordon invites anyone to visit the website (www.ulinks.ca) and to explore the searchable data-base which contains the results of more than 400 research projects undertaken since inception. U-Links works closely with Haliburton County entities and professors and students at both Trent University and Fleming College to answer questions and solve problems unique to Haliburton County. Gordon stresses that the relationships with the university and college in our region are historical and important. Over the years U-Links has also collaborated on specific projects with a number of other universities and Gordon muses about growing these connections to offer a broader range of expertise in Haliburton County. “We’ll see what we can broker”, says Gordon.
Gordon notes that the U-Links mandate embraces cultural, economic, social and environmental spheres. Over the years U-Links has facilitated research in all of these areas. “Right now”, he says, “environmental projects occupy approximately 80% of our time”. Not surprising considering the importance of the environment to the County’s local culture and economic base. Gordon pointed to the successful 2019 launch of the Woodlands and Waterways EcoWatch Program (WWEW), which currently partners with local lake associations, Trent University and Fleming College to monitor benthic populations and water quality. With the Haliburton Highlands Land Trust, U-Links and other partners are set to launch a terrestrial biomonitoring program as part of WWEW to look at the continued health of local forested ecosystems.
Gordon observed that Haliburton County, despite the high population of seasonal residents, has some serious all-year and ongoing social challenges. “Haliburton County has one of the highest rates of child poverty in the province, and the highest number of seniors per capita – these, and other social and business issues are items that U-Links is interested in and will pursue in due course.
Gordon notes that there have been a couple of recent staffing changes at U-Links but points out that while they left to pursue other opportunities they continue with their interest in the work of U-Links. “I have inherited a great job, largely because of the huge effort expended by Amanda Duncombe-Lee and Brendan Martin, former Environmental Program Coordinator, founding coordinator of the WWEW program and now advisor to the WWEW program. I want to thank them for leaving the organization in such good shape. We are also fortunate to have a very dedicated Management Committee of community volunteers and Trent and Fleming College faculty, a strong and experienced staff team and great community partnerships.”
Sadie Fischer, who has several years with U-Links as a Research Associate, has taken over Brendan’s role and is supported by two recent Research Associate hires, Joshua Solti and Amanda Porter. Daniela Pagliaro carries on as the Admin and Logistics Manager for U-Links, keeping track of the many movable pieces of this fairly complex organization.
Andy, as he likes to be called, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, 705-286-2411 or on his personal cell at 705-457-8565. He encourages local businesses to approach him with “local business challenges and hopes for the future” as he begins to build bridges between Haliburton County and the larger provincial business community.
Gordon resides in Minden Hills with his wife Dr. Shelley Hunt, Chair of the Board of the Haliburton Highlands Land Trust, their son Ross and their incorrigible dog, Coco, a springer spaniel. Ross is a position player for the Muskoka Hornets hardball team, and as a result Gordon knows the rocks, trees and waterways of Highway 118 extremely well.
Woodlands & Waterways EcoWatch Program Officially Launches May 2021
We are proud to announce the official launch of our rebranded biomonitoring program: Woodlands & Waterways EcoWatch! EcoWatch is a community based environmental monitoring program coordinated by the U-Links Centre for Community Based research in conjunction with a number of volunteer and not-for-profit organizations in the Haliburton Region. The program utilizes the resources and knowledge of Trent University and Sir Sandford Fleming College in order to assist community organizations monitor the long-term health of the forests and lakes of Haliburton County and the surrounding region.
This rebranding encompasses our already established benthic macroinvertebrate monitoring program as well as our upcoming forest health monitoring program in collaboration with the Haliburton Highlands Land Trust. If you're interested in joining or supporting our program contact the Program Coordinator, Brendan Martin, at email@example.com. Visit wwew.ca for more information and follow Woodlands & Waterways EcoWatch accounts on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook for updates!
U-Links Launches Woodlands & Waterways Eco-Watch Program April 2021
This spring, U-Links is launching the Woodlands and Waterways EcoWatch Program (WWEW) - a collaboration of U-Links, Trent University, Fleming College, lake associations, lake stewards, Haliburton Highlands Land Trust and citizen scientists to monitor the health of the waterways and woodlands of our region.
Woodlands & Waterways EcoWatch is a community based environmental monitoring program coordinated by the U-Links Centre for Community Based Research in conjunction with a number of volunteer and not- for-profit organizations in the Haliburton Region. The program utilizes the resources and knowledge of Trent University and Sir Sandford Fleming College to assist community organizations monitor the long- term health of the forests and lakes of Haliburton County and the surrounding region.
The program is an expansion of the original Community Benthos Biomonitoring Pilot project that originated in 2019 with the support of funding from the Ontario Trillium Foundation, Trent University and the Haliburton County Development Corporation (HCDC). In 2020, With financial support from HCDC, the Kenneth Molson Foundation, the Great Lakes Local Action Fund, and several participating local lake associations including Lake Kashagawigamog Organization, Gull Lake Property Owners’ Association, Kawagama Lake Cottagers’ Association, and Halls & Hawk Lake Property Owners’ Association, the program was able to expand to serve an additional 11 lakes, as well as incorporate a framework for citizen science water monitoring and terrestrial biomonitoring.
This initiative is invaluable and timely, as our lakes and forests continue to face ever-increasing pressures from climate change and development.
Join Woodlands Waterlands Eco-Watch If you are involved with a lake association that would be interested in participating in benthos biomonitoring, please visit our website to download our Host Primer PDF at wwew.ca/info-for-hosts/ and contact our WWEW Program Coordinator, Brendan Martin, at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more about the program or discuss a similar research project idea.
If you are part of a property owners association, a municipality or an environmental organization interested in participating in terrestrial biomonitoring, please contact Brendan. Please note this component of the program is still in development and will formally commence in Fall 2021.
We Need Your Support
Over the past two years we have received in-kind and financial support to do the groundwork required to create this program and undertake the first two years of data collection and analysis. We need continued support from the community to continue to support local research needs and to keep the WWEW program running and to help it grow.
If you are interested in supporting our program, please contact Daniela Pagliaro, U-Links’ Administrative and Logistics Coordinator, at email@example.com.
Success for U-Links' first virtual Celebration of Research April 2021
Our first virtual Celebration of Research was a resounding success, with over 100 attendees, a number of dynamic presentations and lots of enthusiasm in the breakout rooms where students showcased their research posters. Thank you to all who attended our 30th annual Celebration of Research! Special thanks to Fanny Martin from Art of Festivals for moderating the event, and to U-Links staff for all of their hard work, preparation and troubleshooting!
You can view the recording of our main presentations on the 'Celebration of Research' tab on our website!
We hope to see you all again next year!
$74, 600 OTF Grant Gave Local Lakes Opportunities to Monitor and Preserve Ecosystems December 20, 2020 In 2019, the Trent Centre for Community Based Education (TCCBE) received a $74,600 Seed Grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) to partner with U-Links on a Community Benthos Biomonitoring Pilot Program. Benthos are aquatic benthic macroinvertebrates, or "bugs", that live on the bottom of a stream, lake, or river.
The focus of this collaborative program has been to create a sustainable biomonitoring system in the Haliburton-Kawarthas bio-region, one that encourages residents to support a healthy and sustainable environment.
The grant helped hire our Aquatic and Terrestrial Biomonitoring Coordinator, purchasing biomonitoring equipment, match the projects with Trent and Fleming students, and commence baseline sampling sessions in collaboration with six lake associations.
With the help from the TCCBE, U-Links is working hard to secure ongoing finding to continue monitoring the lakes currently in the program, expand the number of lakes, and replicate the system in Kawartha Lakes and Peterborough County.
The analysis of the type and number of species of bugs present at lake sampling sites, combined with standard water quality testing data, provides an early warning system for changes in lake health. Results of mid-term evaluation show that TCCBE and U-Links made progress on all established milestones, that there is confidence amongst stakeholders in the effectiveness of the model, and interest from partners to scale up the project in new areas.
With support from other partners, U-Links added five additional lakes to the program in 2020. The longer the program runs, the more data U-Links can collect to identify long-term trends for the health of each lake. U-Links and TCCBE continue to source funding for this initiative and appeal to community organizations and people committed to environmental preservation, to consider providing support to ensure the program goes beyond April 2021.
The OTF is an agency of the Government of Ontario, and one of Canada's leading granting foundations. OTF awarded $115 million to 644 projects last year to build healthy and vibrant communities in Ontario.
Strong Fall Start For U-Links October 12, 2020 U-Links has had an exciting start to the Fall 2020 academic term, with a high number of community-based research projects matched with several departments at Trent University.
A total of 21 research projects involving 26 student researchers have been matched within Trent’s Biology, History, School of Business, and School of the Environment departments for the fall semester. One project was also matched to Fleming College’s Credit for Product course.
The project cycle began with uncertainty due to the COVID-19 crisis, but research interest from community organizations, slight changes to project design, and the facilitation of low-risk essential student field placements within Haliburton County meant the project cycle was able to continue.
Project topic areas include biodiversity monitoring with the Haliburton Highlands Land Trust, the impacts of the Canada Emergency Response Benefit for job seekers for the City of Kawartha Lakes and Haliburton County Poverty Reduction Roundtable, and correlations between dental caries and diabetes in low income families for Haliburton County Volunteer Dental Outreach.
Approximately half of the projects were designed to be completed remotely, where students can access resources and attend meetings online from home or school, with the Community Benthos Biomonitoring Program projects requiring a combination of both fieldwork and remote instruction. All essential fieldwork was successfully completed by students and U-Links staff before the Thanksgiving weekend.
U-Links would like to sincerely thank all community hosts, students, and faculty for their time, commitment, and ongoing support for community-based research and student experiential learning. A special thank you goes out to all participating lake associations for stepping up to provide safe work environments and travel for students doing fieldwork on our beautiful lakes.
U-Links is currently accepting research project proposals for the winter academic term. Community organizations can contact Amanda Duncombe-Lee, Program Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org or call the office at 705-286-2411.
U-Links Published in the Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning
We are proud to announce that an article about U-Links and its impact on the community has been published in the Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning! Thank you to author Emily Amon (Trent Univeristy graduate) and contributors, Jim Blake and Marie Gage (U-Links), Tom Whillans and Stephen Hill (professors at Trent University).
The evaluation found that key to U-Links’ success is its independence from the university as a research broker. “This minimally bureaucratic organizational structure keeps U-Links grounded and accessible. U-Links exists first and foremost to satisfy the needs of the community rather than the university."
The Outcome of the Evaluation: “The projects and partnerships enabled by U-Links Centre for Community-Based Research have led to capacity building and social change in Haliburton County by collaborating on relevant research, creating strong partnerships, supporting projects with adequate resources, and engaging the public in the dissemination of research findings....our evaluation suggests that the very act of bringing people together and engaging in community-based research can transform the social landscape, creating positive ripple effects for future community endeavors.”
U-Links thanks Community hosts, Students and Volunteers for Fall Research Projects U-Links Centre for Community-Based Research receives Seed Grant from Ontario Trillium Foundation; thanks hosts, students and volunteers for their participation in fall semester research projects
U-Links has many things to be thankful for this winter, including our community hosts, dedicated students, staff and volunteers, and a Seed Grant for our Benthos Biomonitoring Program from the Ontario Trillium Foundation.
Student researchers from Trent University and Fleming College have been very active this fall. Their research has carried them to the County’s local lakes, touring farmers’ markets and provincial parks, and participating in the Haliburton-Muskoka-Kawartha Children’s Water Festival.
None of this research and hands-on learning experience would be possible without local host organizations and volunteers. U-Links is thankful to all the host organizations who have been so active, engaged, and committed this fall term. An extra special thanks to all those who drove to Peterborough to meet with students, taxied students around lakes in their boats, and provided the support and resources necessary for a successful project.
U-Links is especially appreciative of the patience and support shown by local lake associations who participated in the pilot year of the new Benthos Biomonitoring Program, which was made possible through a Seed Grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation to the Trent Centre for Community Based Education. The program is also supported by the Haliburton County Development Corporation, Trent University, and the CICan Career-Launcher Internship program. The program leverages the resources of lake associations, Trent University’s School of the Environment and Fleming College’s Environmental Technology Program to pilot and co-ordinate a system for benthic biomonitoring in the region.
U-Links in the News! U-Links was featured in an article printed in County Life in November 2019! Check out the summary and link below!
"Reflecting on 30 years of Community-Based Research" The U-Links Centre for Community-Based Research has a rich, 30-year history in Haliburton County. This history dates back to community-campus partnerships starting in 1989 and the U-Links Centre for Community-Based Research’s official formation in 1999.
U-Links helps local community organizations to develop research project proposals based on community needs that are then promoted to students and staff at Trent University and Fleming College. Most of the projects are aimed at senior undergraduate students, but some can be matched as graduate projects. Projects are then completed by the students for academic credit under the supervision of faculty, the community host organization, and U-Links staff.
The past 3 decades have included social, environmental, economic, and cultural projects in partnership with community organizations, Trent University, and Fleming College. These years have also brought with them national and international connections to other organizations focused on community-based research, such as Community-Campus Engage Canada (CCEC).
U-Links and Minden Hills host Community Consultation on Youth Engagement and Retention April 23rd, 2019 U-Links has revived its annual Breakfast Meetings! (now called Community Consultations). On April 17th, U-Links and The Township of Minden Hills paired up to host a community consultation on youth retention and engagement in Minden.
The room was alive with many great conversations, revelations, and reflections that we hope will translate into new connections, ideas, action and research. The forum provided a foundation for a community-wide research proposal that we hope will provide insight into understanding and addressing the opportunities and challenges for young professionals in Minden Hills. Thank you to all that attended, and let's keep up the momentum!
If you’re interested in getting involved in this study, please contactAmanda Duncombe-Lee, Program Coordinator at U-Links (email@example.com).
Save the Date - U-Links Celebration of Research Fast Approaching, Project Development Now Open! January 31st, 2019 U-Links Centre for Community-Based Research is looking forward to our 21st annual Celebration of Research on March 23 at the Minden Community Centre, and is already looking ahead for project proposals for the 2019-2020 academic year.
U-Links Centre for Community Based Research has an incredible 22 projects ongoing with Trent University geography, environmental science, forensics and international development studies students which will be presented at this year’s Celebration of Research on March 23 2019, at the Minden Hills Community Centre (Room #1) from 1-4pm. The event will feature light refreshments, poster presentations, and a keynote address from Ray Letheren: a distinguished community and environmental advocate best known for his work with the Blue Bayfield Community Project, on the topic of translating research into action. We welcome all from the community to attend!
We are very thankful to all of the community organizations and students who have been working tirelessly to support these projects over the last few months, and are excited to share the knowledge that has been gathered by the students.
New this year, U-Links has decided to move up the start of project-planning and development for the 2019-2020 academic calendar to better facilitate project matching. Interested organizations are encouraged to reach out to Amanda Duncombe-Lee, U-Links Projects Coordinator, via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or telephone (705) 286-2411 to discuss potential future projects February 4th until June 30th. All organizations are eligible to develop project proposals, from small non-profits, to community associations, municipal working groups, and private businesses. We hope to hear from you soon!
Interested organizations can search for examples of past research by keyword, subject tag, and research area via our new online database. The database includes a full screen map where users can view the locations of CBR projects in Haliburton County.
The direct link to the database can be found at https://database.ulinks.ca/.
U-Links matching community-based research projects, Developing new Partnerships October 3rd, 2018
U-Links Centre for Community Based Research has been working to match Trent geography, environmental science, forensics and international development studies students with local community-based-research projects. While the total number of U-Links’ project proposals increased by 40 percent this year, under-enrolment of students in Community Based Research (CBR) courses has meant that U-Links will not be able to match all the projects.
Projects that are not time-sensitive can stay on the Trent and U-Links websites for matching over the 2019-20 academic year. U-Links is very thankful to all of the community organizations who participated in project development over the last few months.
The U-Links team has been busy working on its own internal projects relating to developing and accessing community-based research.
U-Links and Community First: Impact of Community Engagement (CFICE) have jointly published a guide, “Primer for Community Organizations with Research Questions.” The purpose of the guide is to help community organizations create research-oriented relationships with university faculty. It includes critical steps for organizations who wish to engage in CBR, from finding the right partner to designing the project, research agreement and sharing the results. The guide can be accessed via the Sept 13th update below.
To better facilitate the dissemination of research in the County, U-Links is now hosting a new database where individuals can search past research by keyword, subject tag and CBR area. The database includes a full screen map where users can view the locations of CBR projects in Haliburton County. The direct link to the database can be found at https://database.ulinks.ca/
U-Links is also developing a new partnership with Fleming College, whereby Fleming students can participate in environmentally-focused CBR and Community Service Learning opportunities in the County for course credit. This partnership will officially launch January 2019 but community service learning projects related to benthic sampling have already begun. U-Links is excited to be working with two of the Fleming’s Frost Campus Programs: Sustainable Waste Management and Environmental Technology. It is expected that the partnership will help facilitate the higher number of projects generated by community organizations this year.
The purpose of this document (Click here for the full CFICE - Campus Community Manual PDF) is to guide community organizations’ staff as they begin to create research-oriented relationships with university faculty. The goal of these relationships is to maximize the effectiveness of the non-profit organization through the creation of evidence-based decision making. Nonprofit community organizations often have service-related questions but few resources to answer these questions. For example, an organization might want to know whether a specific intervention or program is providing the desired outcome. The lack of unbiased answers to such questions makes it difficult for an organization to make the best, or perhaps most economical, decisions about the future direction of the organization.
University faculty have a need to engage in research to meet the university’s promotion and tenure requirements. More and more often faculty members are seeking projects that will make meaningful contributions to the community in which they live and work. They are seeking opportunities to engage in what is known as Community-Based Research. Faculty are recognizing that the outcome of such projects is more likely to result in change when the question, or problem statement, arises from the community. As such they are seeking research partnerships initiated by community organizations.
Other faculty, while themselves not Community-Based Research practitioners, may be able to support a research project undertaken by their students, whether as course-based projects or as graduate or undergraduate thesis projects.
Some universities and colleges have well-developed departments that engage community organizations in this process and utilize the resulting projects to provide students with real-life experiences in the surrounding community. Others are just beginning to develop the process.
Phone (705) 286-2411 ADDRESS 93 BOBCAYGEON RD, P.O. BOX 655, MINDEN, ONTARIO K0M 2K0 Dr. andrew Gordon - Director - email@example.com DANIELA PAGLIARO - administrative and logistics coordinator - firstname.lastname@example.org Sadie Fischer - Environmental Program Coordinator - email@example.com
U-Links Centre for Community Based Research operates within the Williams Treaty First Nations Michi Saagiig territory as well as the unceded territories of the Algonquin Nation. We respectfully acknowledge that the Williams Treaty First Nations and Algonquin Nation are the stewards and caretakers of these lands and waters in perpetuity, and that they continue to maintain this responsibility to ensure their health for generations to come..