Benthic assessments of local waterways, wetlands analysis, localized seismic activity monitoring, and a study of native apple trees in Haliburton County are all on the agenda as U-Links gets ready to host its annual celebration of research.

This year’s event is happening March 23 at Haliburton School of Art + Design and features 21 projects led by student researchers over the past year, said Frank Figuli, U-Links’ program coordinator.

“This is an opportunity for project hosts and the community at large to hear presentations, ask questions about the outcomes of the research and to network with other community members,” Figuli said.

For years, U-Links has taken topics pitched by County residents and matched them with students from Fleming College, Trent University, and, new this year, Metropolitan Toronto University (MTU), to help identify issues, and find solutions, to various environmental, social, economic, and cultural concerns in the Highlands.

The celebration provides a platform for students to present their findings and is also a great way for the community to learn more about various important topics, Figuli said.

Celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, U-Links has facilitated over 300 research initiatives in the years since inception.

There will be four projects showcased this year, with students discussing their findings during short, 10-minute presentations. Carmen Galea, a student at MTU, has been working alongside Luba Cargill, founder of ATIP Haliburton, to identify native apple tree locations across the County. Cargill recently told The Highlander more than 170 locations have been identified, including 10 orchards.

“The long-term ambition… is to revitalize the heritage apple industry for Haliburton County, addressing things like opportunities for tourism, but also increasing the food security factor and finding ways to keep food production more localized,” Figuli said, noting Galea had spent roughly four months on the project.

Trent University students Ainsley Tagett, Emily Colautti, and Jess Livingstone led a four-month investigation of wetlands north of Grace Lake last year. Figuli said the idea was to grade the wetland to determine its eligibility for provincially significant status.

Students from Fleming College’s geological technician program carried out seismic activity monitoring on Grace Lake after finding evidence that a fault line runs under the body of water and will be presenting their findings at the event.

There will also be a presentation showcasing results of a benthic macroinvertebrate assessment on Kawagama Lake, led by Trent University student Trinity Torejos.

Figuli said benthic assessments were also completed on Koshlong, Haliburton and Gull lake systems, with an aquatic invasive species inventory completed for Kennisis Lake.

Sean Campbell, executive director of Union Cooperative in Kitchener-Waterloo, will serve as the event’s keynote speaker, discussing ways to bring innovative housing projects online in small communities. Figuli said this is an important topic, with U-Links recently partnering with local residents Fay Martin, Fay Wilkinson, and Dave Wilfong, and grad students from Trent, to look into housing alternatives for Haliburton County. He expects results of that project will be available in the fall.

“I’m excited for this year’s celebration – I think we’re going to get a good turnout… there will be lots of great updates and information shared. If you want to learn about what’s going on in Haliburton County, this is a great thing to come out for,” Figuli said.

The celebration runs from 12:30 to 3 p.m. For more information, visit