Environmental Studies
experiential education
student research

2017 Welcomes an Exciting UVic-GCA Partnership for Experiential Education and Collaborative Research

It may still be cold out for February in the Islands, but coming into the new year has also brought some very heart warming developments for post-secondary experiential education and collaborative research at the Galiano Conservancy which I would like to share.

Over the years, the Galiano Conservancy has collaborated with various universities to host research groups, tours or individual students. We mentor international interns each summer; we’ve had to date around 30, with several more coming between March and October 2017. Until 2013, these programs were not annual, or intensive week long experiences. Beginning in 2013, the first UVic School of Environmental Studies’ restoration field courses begin, with students accommodated at the Gulf Island Film and Television School (GIFTS) and walking the 2km to the Millard Learning Centre each day for their field activities. The following year, students were able to camp at the land. This summer the 5th annual field school will come in May and we will be able to offer a fully functional off-grid kitchen and classroom building with a shower house attached. The relationship continued with positive student experiences and interest grew at both the Galiano Conservancy and UVic’s Faculty of Social Sciences to develop a more official agreement to continue partnering on programs and other opportunities.

The newly rebranded UVic Edge is well aligned to collaborate with initiatives such as the Galiano Conservancy and its Millard Learning Centre. The Centre is even featured in UVic’s latest recruitment video – find us around 0:45 in the video below. Ideals such as dynamic, hands-on learning and research that makes an impact are pillars of UVic’s commitment to engaging students through experiential, community based learning. Well,  bright-eyed students, come on over to Galiano! The ferry leaves at 4:15 and you can sleep under the stars tonight.

Initial discussion of producing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the non-profit charity and UVic’s Faculty of Social Sciences began shortly after the 2015 Ecological Restoration Field School at the Millard Learning Centre. Professor Eric Higgs was sure that UVic more broadly would be impressed by the work at the Galiano field base, and invited the Faculty of Social Sciences Dean Catherine Krull and her husband out to see the student presentations on the final evening of the course. Dean Krull was inspired by her visit and supported the process to completion.

Dora Fitzgerald sharing knowledge on medicinal plants with students for experiential education

Galiano local Dora Fitzgerald sharing knowledge on medicinal plants with students; UVic Photo Services

Student experiential education presentations at the Millard Learning Centre

Student presentations at the Millard Learning Centre; UVic Photo Services

While there have been many changes since that summer, including the loss of dear Ken Millard who was so enthused about having additional UVic involvement at the Centre, we have arrived at a positive conclusion to this process. Now, with MOU in hand and excited partners on each side, we move ahead to find new collaboration opportunities in different departments within UVic’s Faculty of Social Sciences. The MOU will help open doors now for students and researchers in fields such as anthropology, psychology and geography to benefit from the unique and community-based initiatives nurtured by the Millard Learning Centre on Galiano. And the Galiano Conservancy and wider community will have the opportunity to learn from – and with – those individuals as well.

We look forward to May 2017 to meet the next class of Environmental Studies students!

UVic Environmental Studies experiential education Field Course 2015

UVic Environmental Studies Field Course 2015; UVic Photo Services


For more information on this exciting partnership please contact Jenna Falk at or (250)539-2424. If you would like your group to experience the Millard Learning Centre, and for more information on our education programs, please contact Reed Osler at or at (250)539-2424.