June 8, 2020Print | PDF
Wilfrid Laurier University students Ryan Brady and Martin Ostrega want to make a positive impact on the health of the world’s oceans. Their selection for the national Ocean Bridge program will help them to do just that.
Ocean Bridge is an annual volunteer-based program that empowers Canadian youth to contribute to ocean conservation. Ocean Bridge participants are assigned to groups that each focus on the conservation of different bodies of water. The groups collaborate online to learn about water conservation and create service projects to implement in their home communities.
Program participants also take part in two immersive field experiences – one along a Canadian coast or shoreline and the other in an urban setting – that develop skills in water conservation and advocacy. The Ocean Bridge program is funded by the Government of Canada and there is no cost to participants.
“The Ocean Bridge program is an incredible opportunity for us to collaborate with Canadians across the country and think outside the box to create ways to conserve our oceans and water bodies,” says Brady, who recently completed undergraduate studies in Geography and Environmental Studies at Laurier.
Brady is part of an Ocean Bridge group focused on water conservation in Canada’s Great Lakes. His group will spend 10 days along the north shore of Lake Superior within the Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area, where the group will conduct service work with Indigenous communities, municipalities, Parks Canada and various environmental organizations.
Ostrega’s Ocean Bridge group is focused on ocean and coastal health. During late August, his group will participate in an immersive experience along the coast of the Atlantic Ocean in Eastport, Newfoundland. Both students plan to complete their immersive urban experiences – in Ottawa and Halifax, respectively – later this year.
“It’s been inspiring to hear ideas from Ocean Bridge participants across Canada,” says Ostrega. “It’s exciting to build from those perspectives and experiences through the program.”
Brady and Ostrega say participation in the Ocean Bridge program offers the opportunity to develop new skills and knowledge, as well as grow their research skills. Both have been involved in undergraduate research throughout their time at Laurier and will begin graduate studies in September.
Brady, who will begin Laurier’s Master of Arts in Geography program, plans to continue his current research into ticks and how related health threats are perceived by visitors to Pinery Provincial Park in Grand Bend, Ontario. Ostrega will begin research into the spawning aggregations of tropical finfish in the wider Caribbean as a student in the Master of Marine Management program at Dalhousie University.
“Young people like ourselves have to conserve and protect our oceans and their ecosystems,” says Ostrega. “Being in the Ocean Bridge program is a great start to building the knowledge and networks to help us do that.”
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