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Students at WHSS win 2022 Wetland Centres of Excellence case study competition

May 18, 2022

MOUNT FOREST, ON – Nothing could wash away the feeling of pride after Wellington Heights Secondary School students, Zoё, Yuvika and Sydney, won Ducks Unlimited Canada’s (DUC) national Wetland Centres of Excellence case study competition — earning them $500 for their school and the title of Youth Wetland Experts. 

From left to right: Zoë, Yuvika, Sydney © DUC

The annual case study competition challenges Wetland Centres of Excellence students to tackle and break down barriers regarding real conservation problems faced by DUC in the field. 

Zoё, Yuvika and Sydney come from the Luther Marsh Wetland Centre of Excellence. For the competition they chose to examine salt marshes and sea-level rise in Atlantic Canada. Their key question was: “To adapt to sea-level rise in Atlantic Canada, will you choose to restore salt marshes, improve dikes, or both?” 

“I was really excited,” said Yuvika. “I’d learned a bit about sea-level rise in school and this was an opportunity to learn even more.”

The team got to work researching sea-level rise, salt marshes, dikes, and the pros and cons of each. They expected to arrive at an easy answer, but they learned there wasn’t one. They looked at pricing, ecosystem benefits and long-term maintenance, but they still couldn’t decide on a solution. 

“We spent a lot of time debating both sides,” said Sydney. “Zoë kept saying we should focus on salt marsh restoration, but to me dike maintenance made the most sense.”

“The deciding factor was geography,” said Zoë. “Where there were coastal cities being protected by dikes, we kept the dikes in place to protect them from flooding. For other areas, we looked at salt marsh restoration as a solution.”

The team encountered many setbacks leading up to the competition from nerves to illnesses – all the way up until the day of when they found a problem in their presentation and had to quickly fix their script. 

Despite all the setbacks, the trio were able to persevere and present to the judges with a thoughtful and well-researched solution. 

“I’m really proud of us,” says Sydney. “We did it. Despite all the setbacks and all our nerves, we got through it, together.”

Congratulations Zoё, Yuvika and Sydney for all your hard work and for making your UG community proud.

You can read the full story here

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