Apryl Nish has always been fascinated by the world around her, so she knew exactly what she wanted to study when she graduated from high school. the University of Lethbridge was the obvious choice for Apryl as it has an outstanding environmental studies program, along with friends and family members who are alumni. Taking her knowledge into the field, this past summer Apryl conducted research on Akamina Valley regrowth following the 2017 Kenow Fire in Waterton, Alberta.

I learned WAY more about concepts in the field! Some things you learn in class seem incredibly abstract, but learning about them while actually applying the concepts helps you learn a ton and retain much more information.

Meet Apryl | Adventurous. Helpful. Happy.
Program: Bachelor of Science | Major: Environmental Science

What is your most memorable experience at ULethbridge so far?

So far, my most memorable experience is the summer research season. I got to know a bunch of other students and learned a ton about what I can do with my degree!

Please tell us a bit about this research experience. What were your three biggest takeaways from participating?

I was proud to receive a grant through NSERC and worked closely with Dr. Laura Chasmer from the Department of Geography & Environment in Waterton Lakes National Parks (WLNP) on research surrounding the regrowth of the Akamina Valley following the 2017 Kenow Fire. From this summer research, my three biggest takeaways were:

  1. I love working outside. I've never had the opportunity to work in a field setting, and I was thrilled to be able to in WLNP.
  2. Research is very interdisciplinary. It's one thing to take measurements, but another to interpret them and formulate actual research findings.
  3. I learned WAY more about concepts in the field! Some things you learn in class seem incredibly abstract, but learning about them while actually applying the concepts helps you learn a ton and retain much more information.

Was there a particular moment from your work in WLNP that will stay with you?

Not any one moment in particular, though the final day of work in Waterton will stay with me above all others. It was a very long, very hot day at the site, and a great deal of it was spent on the ground collecting biomass. At the end of the day, the group went to a restaurant to celebrate being finished with the field season. Although it was a busy, hot, and long day, the effort put in, and the knowledge I gained made every second worthwhile.

How did this field experience help shape your career direction?

It has opened my eyes to the avenues available to me. Previously, I had considered career options to be fairly abstract, "maybe I'll work in the parks, or for the government, or research" was a recurring statement of mine. This experience has shown me the depth of the environmental science degree and the multiple directions it could take me. After spending so much time in the post-fire landscape in Waterton, I am interested in the wildfire portion. I find the regrowth and resilience of nature to be incredible. I can't wait to see where I can go from here.

How have your professors impacted your education?

Of course! Professors are largely the source of all the information I take in. Laura Chasmer took time out of her schedule to work with me on applying for my grant and work with me at the field sites. Without Laura, I would not have known where to begin with my data analysis, either!

Always dependable and interested, Apryl's observations contribute to our overall understanding of early post-fire vegetation regeneration at Waterton Lakes National Park – Dr. Laura Chasmer, Department of Geography & Environment nominated Apryl as a Shining Student

Craig Coburn is another professor who changed "what" I want to study. With his obvious love of what he does in remote sensing, I was drawn to the GIS concentration in my first-ever semester in 2021.

Is there someone else who had an important influence on your ULethbridge experience?

The entire Faculty of Arts & Science advising team has been incredibly influential in my academic planning and have taken many a worried email from me (and sorted it out, too!). Also, my friends' success in post-secondary education inspired me to apply and find a degree that works for me.

Have you received any scholarships and awards? If so, please tell us a bit about how they helped you throughout your studies.

I have received multiple semester awards from the University, for which I am very thankful. I received a grant from MADD Canada last year for my studies following an essay submission on the effects of impaired driving. This grant massively assisted my studies, and I cannot thank them enough (though they are a 3rd party scholarship).

What is the most important lesson you have learned so far at ULethbridge?

I've learned to take time for myself. For me, spending every moment of free time studying and getting ahead is tempting. But it's imperative that you take time for yourself. Put it on a calendar if you need to!

What are your hopes/plans for the future?

I hope to complete my degree (ideally on time), but I have not yet decided on my plans beyond that. Ideally, I’d like to find a career that uses GIS, perhaps in forestry or the Parks system.

What advice would you like to give those who are about to begin their journey at ULethbridge?

Remember to take time for yourself. Apply for the co-op program to find temporary jobs in your field! Apply for all scholarships. If possible, find your classrooms BEFORE the first day. Talk to people. Get involved with clubs to find new friends, and do new things. Go to office hours. Make use of the library and the (thankfully silent) study rooms in the library.

Quick Answers

Top things to do in or around Lethbridge:

  1. I love to walk in all the parks, but most notably the river bottom, Nicolas Sheran, and Henderson, especially in the fall.
  2. Getting coffee from one of the local places is always great (Penny Coffee House, Petals Paws and Beans, and Sonder, to name a few).
  3. Waterton and the Crowsnest Pass are a moderate drive away and boast gorgeous scenery and lots of trails for hiking and picture taking.

Favourite class: Geographic Information Systems

Favourite social activity at ULethbridge: Geography Club/Biology Club

Favourite place to study: A bookable room in the library, or the quiet floor (level 10)

About Shining Students

Shining Students engage inside and outside of the classroom. What makes a student shine may differ from person to person, but they all share a passion for learning. They may be top students, involved in an innovative project, participating in ground-breaking research, playing Pronghorn athletics, fighting for social issues or all of the above! When students find something they enjoy and combine it with what they are good at, they shine.

Each year, the Faculty of Arts & Science's faculty and staff nominate students who exemplify the ULethbridge student spirit. Congratulations Apryl!