Jackie Dawson, a PhD candidate at the University of Waterloo, is one of CWF’s talented Orville Erickson Scholarship winners. She’s looking at how climate change will affect the polar bear sightseeing industry in Churchill, Manitoba.
“It’s likely that we’ll see an increase in visitors because of predictions that polar bear populations are declining ... but I think there will be significantly less tourism by the 2040s.” —Jackie Dawson
Thousands of visitors come to Churchill during a six- or seven-week period to see the bears, but climate change is going to change all of that, says Dawson. “It’s likely that we’ll see an increase in visitors because of predictions that polar bear populations are declining ... but I think there will be significantly less tourism by the 2040s.”
Dawson says she loves teaching and sees experience as a valuable part of education. Polar bears may be taking centre stage in her life now, but it was really an encounter with a large adult moose on a canoeing trip in Temagami, Ont., that cemented her future commitment to Canadian wildlife. “Just ten feet in front of us stood the most beautiful creature I have ever seen in my life,” she says.
She hopes to become a professor at a Canadian university in environmental studies or outdoor recreation, programs of study that aren’t well-represented in schools before university. For a more in-depth look at the importance of environmental education, read Canadian Wildlife’s recent article “E is for Environment,” in the July/August 2007 issue.