Recent Niagara College grads get career jumpstart

Kandyce Affleck, 2019 graduate from Niagara College’s Ecosystem Restoration Graduate Certificate program, currently works as a land management assistant with the Upper Thames River Conservation Authority, and recently received her Certified Ecological Restoration Practitioner-in-Training designation. Niagara College photo

Niagara College press release – A batch of 27 recent graduates of Niagara College’s Ecosystem Restoration (Graduate Certificate) program are getting a jumpstart on their career, becoming Certified Ecological Restoration Practitioners-in-Training (CERPITs), thanks to a new partnership between the college and the Society for Ecological Restoration (SER).

The SER is an international organization dedicated to advancing the science, practice, and policy of ecological restoration to sustain biodiversity, improve resilience in a changing climate, and re-establish an ecologically healthy relationship between nature and culture. This summer, Niagara College became Canada’s first post-secondary institution to become a partner with the SER’s Certified Ecological Restoration Practitioner program.

The initiative supports graduates as they pursue their CERPIT designation and provides a clear pathway for them to advance to full Certified Ecological Restoration Practitioners (CERPs).

SER’s CERP Program Coordinator Jen Lyndall said, “Certification recognizes practitioners who have met a high standard of knowledge and experience. Early career CERPITs, like those from Niagara College, can really differentiate themselves from other candidates during job searches, but more importantly, they gain access to technical information and a network of hundreds of other CERPs and CERPITs from all over the world.”

The partnership also provides the program graduates with an Emerging Professional membership to SER, which connects them with a vast network of restorationists and provides access to technical resources through SER newsletters and publications, a complimentary subscription to the Restoration Ecology journal, expert webinars, and the Restoration Resource Center.

Graduates in the first newly minted group of CERPITs are already seeing the value the designation has added to their Niagara College education. “Ecosystem restoration felt like a path that provided actual solutions to a lot of the issues our environment faces. While I enjoyed working in wildlife rehabilitation and conservation education, I wanted to go one step further,” said Ecosystem Restoration graduate Megan Lalli.

Megan Lalli, landowner stewardship coordinator with Trout Unlimited Canada and a graduate of Niagara College’s Ecosystem Restoration program, is one of 27 recent graduates to receive her Certified Ecological Restoration Practitioner-in-Training designation, thanks to a new partnership between the college and the Society for Ecological Restoration. Niagara College photo

Lalli, 25, is now working as a landowner stewardship coordinator with the Niagara chapter of Trout Unlimited Canada and manages a project working with landowners to restore portions of Twelve Mile Creek running through their properties in Niagara.

“As development and climate change continue to have an impact on our lives and the environment as a whole, we need to find ways to adapt, mitigate, and restore the areas that have been affected. The more people that become part of SER and get educated through institutions like Niagara College, the more push there will be to focus on not only protecting the environment but restoring the areas to productive and flourishing habitats for biodiversity,” said Lalli.

The certification is also a boost to the resumes of graduates looking to make an impact in their field. “My time at Niagara College provided me with field experience performing tasks that I could be performing later in my career,” says Kandyce Affleck, 24, another graduate currently working as land management assistant with the Upper Thames River Conservation Authority. “I feel that this certification will provide me with useful resources and connections in order to further my career and keep me up to date.”

In addition to certifying recent grads from the College’s program, the partnership has allowed Niagara College and the SER to work together to ensure the program’s curriculum gives students the knowledge and experience their need to attain their certification when they graduate.

“Niagara College’s Ecosystem Restoration program has been preparing students to make a meaningful difference in the preservation and restoration of natural habitats here at home in Niagara, and indeed around the world, for over 20 years,” said Al Unwin, NC’s associate dean of Environment and Horticulture. “Partnering with the Society of Ecological Restoration not only improves the employability of our graduates, it also allows our two organizations to work together to ensure that future professionals in this field are well-equipped to tackle the ecological and environmental challenges that face our society, now and in the future.”

Niagara College’s Ecosystem Restoration program is preparing students to be leaders in the preservation and reconstruction of the planet’s diverse environments. Graduates go on to contribute to major restorative projects around the world and will be crucial in the implementation of theUnited Nation’s recent declaration of 2021-2030 as a Decade of Ecosystem Restoration.

SER is an international non-profit organization with nearly 3,000 members in more than 70 countries. We actively promote participatory, knowledge-based approaches to restoration. Learn more about us at www.ser.org.