Lethbridge College is the first college in Alberta to have its Ecosystem Management program recognized by the province’s professional biology regulatory organization.
The Alberta Society of Professional Biologists (ASPB) reviewed the college’s curriculum and ruled that the Bachelor of Applied Science degree in Ecosystem Management meets all of the criteria needed to allow grads to apply for Biologist in Training designation, the first step towards becoming a Professional Biologist – the highest possible designation in the province. This accreditation had historically been reserved for university programs, but the ASPB ruled the college’s program provides the necessary criteria for graduates to be considered.
“It meets and exceeds our requirements,” says ASPB executive director Jennifer Sipkens. “Colleges nowadays are so much more advanced than they were 20 years ago and the line might be blurring a bit between a college and a university. I think it just makes sense that we accredit this as a Professional Biologist stream academic program.”
The college introduced the Bachelor of Applied Science degree in Ecosystem Management in 2015. Those involved in developing the curriculum designed the four-year program with the ASPB accreditation in mind and took steps to make sure the program would meet the needs of industry partners.
“We recognized that the strength of the credential would only be as strong as the partners we could bring with it,” says Dr. Terry Kowalchuk, interim co-Dean of the Centre for Applied Arts and Sciences and chair of the School of Environmental Sciences. “We involved the ASPB very early in the process so that they knew about our curriculum, knew what we were planning and were able to evaluate it as it was being developed.”
Lethbridge College’s Bachelor of Applied Science degree in Ecosystem Management involves 19 courses in the biological sciences – four more than the minimum required for ASPB accreditation. The degree program prepares graduates for work in the fields of environmental management and restoration, and fish and wildlife management.
“We created this programming area with industry and jobs and careers in mind,” says Kowalchuk. “We’re in a position now where, if you want to work in the environmental field – environmental science, biology, ecology, habitat, fisheries, wildlife, those sorts of areas – we’re at the top of the list. This is a perfect pathway for those students to be successful.”