Local-based research on plastic water bottle reduction, wetland management and climate change will be on display at the U-Links 21st annual Celebration of Research March 23.

The U-Links Centre for Community Based Research is spotlighting 23 ongoing projects in the County of Haliburton done by Trent University students from fields including geography, environmental science, forensics and international development studies.

U-Links project co-ordinator Amanda Duncombe-Lee said the initiative is a way for students to gain real-world experience during their studies.

“There’s not always a lot of opportunities for students to engage in real-world experience and also give them course credit,” she said.

Duncombe-Lee said projects this year include work done with the Haliburton Highlands Land Trust to develop guidelines for protecting wetlands, addressing how climate change affects mental health with the local health unit and working with Dysart et al to reduce plastic water bottle usage.

This year’s keynote speaker is Ray Letheren, an environmental advocate who ran the Blue Bayfield Community Project, a model for Dysart et al’s push to cut plastics.

U-Links also announced it was moving up the start of project development for the 2019-20 year. Interested organizations can now reach out to discuss future projects until June 30.

“We did it just in order to better facilitate faculty in their planning process for the next academic year,” Duncombe-Lee said. “The sooner we start talking about potential projects for the next year the better they can plan and the more fleshed out the project proposals can be.”

Interested organizations can contact Duncombe-Lee at aduncombe-lee@ulimks. ca or 705-286-2411.

The celebration of research will be hosted at the Minden Hills Community Centre from 1-4 p.m. March 23.

“U-Links is very thankful to all of the community organizations and students who have been working tirelessly to support these projects,” the organization said in a press release.

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