Students at Hamilton’s McMaster University awarded 1st place for bee awareness project

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Published November 18, 2021 at 9:40 am

Students at McMaster University in Hamilton are helping increase awareness of native bees and the vital contributions they make to human health. Their work earned them the 2021 Climate Change and Health — Innovation Award (CCHIA) first-place prize.

Students at McMaster University in Hamilton are helping increase awareness of native bees and the vital contributions they make to human health. Their work earned them the 2021 Climate Change and Health — Innovation Award (CCHIA) first-place prize.

“As a collaborative project for our third year (Implementing Sustainable Change) class, we took the lead to have McMaster University certified as a Bee City Campus,” says student Samara Hasan.

“We also wrote and published multiple articles highlighting the importance of native bees and the role they play in local ecosystems,” says Callum Hales.

To educate community members, the group hosted a virtual event to talk about solitary bees.

The project builds upon a 2017 initiative to increase solitary bee populations, which succeeded in installing 50 solitary bee homes throughout campus in collaboration with McMaster Facility Services.

From left: Assistant Vice-President and Chief Facilities Officer, Debbie Martin; Science student, Samara Hasan; Science student, Waslat Waizi; Business student, Callum Hales; Director of Maintenance Services, Craig MacDonald; and Community Relations Coordinator, Abbie Little. (Photo by Georgia Kirkos/McMaster University).

“The crucial role native bees play in supporting human health cannot be underestimated. Not only are they essential for pollination of crops, which provide much-needed food for humans, but they play a key role in maintaining the biodiversity and equilibrium of local ecosystems,” says Waslat Waizi.

“It is important for institutions and individuals to take part in this initiative because we will all feel the impacts of our actions,” added Abhik Sen, a fourth-year commerce student.

McMaster Facility Services is continuing this momentum by focusing on increasing native bee populations at McMaster.

“Our projects that promote bee pollination align with the Okanagan Charter, of which McMaster is a signatory. This fall our team is collaborating with a new cohort of SUSTAIN students to install 25 more bee homes and native plant species on campus,” says Debbie Martin, assistant vice-president and chief facilities officer. “I am so proud of the collaborative work students and staff have done to advance this initiative and support campus as a living laboratory for environmental sustainability.”

The school says projects born out of these courses have created lasting change, including a bike repair station at the heart of campus, public-facing composting across campus, and a program to collect and donate unused university technology to communities in need.

The CCHIA provides $5000 annually, awarded to McMaster students who achieve excellence in creating innovative solutions that have positive impacts on climate change and health.

The Academic Sustainability Programs Office houses the Sustainable Future Program consisting of eight SUSTAIN courses. Courses are open to undergraduate students from all faculties and departments and aim to spark interdisciplinary collaboration to address complex sustainability challenges on campus and in the community.

Students in the courses gain inclusive and diverse leadership skills required to tackle complex sustainability challenges and are eligible for the Climate Change and Health — Innovation Award, which was established in 2017 by two McMaster University medical school alumni and their families to stimulate innovative solutions to address climate change and health.

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