5th May 2019
Nine A-level, Applied Science and Animal Management students recently visited Norway, alongside students from other subject areas, as part of an Erasmus+ funded project to learn more about the sustainable use of water. This project is run by SUSSWATER and involves partner colleges and organisations in three other countries; Bromangymnasiet College in Hudiksvall, Sweden, Val Skole in Norway and the Irish Sea Fisheries Board. This is the last of the four ‘mobilities’ with visits to the other three places having already taken place over the course of the last 2 academic years. The purpose of these visits is for students to gain a greater understanding of the sustainable use of water in both their home regions and other European counties. As well as this the project exists to promote a range of other skills such as language, communication, presentation and team-working as well as promote and develop links between individuals from different cultural, religious and ethnic backgrounds and hopefully to forge lasting friendships between students and staff all over Europe.
On the recent visit students were accompanied by South Devon College lecturers Matt Rossin and Luke Peakman and were involved in a range of tours, talks and activities designed to strengthen their understanding of the use of water as a resource in the region, with an emphasis on salmon farming and aquaculture.
Upon arrival at Val Skole after a 5 hour drive from Trondheim Airport, the students were met by blizzard conditions. However, the following day, the snow had mostly melted and the students attended a lecture by some of the Norwegian students about a recent fish population study they had completed. They were then involved in a practical laboratory session involving fish dissection and the measurement of a range of fish population parameters that form a large part of fish population biology and ecology in the region.
On day two the group visited the remote islands of Sør-Gjæslingan which were previously home to 5000 cod fishing boats in the early 1900s. The trip to these islands involved an exciting 40 minute RIB boat ride through some quite bumpy sea conditions! The students were given a tour themed around the coastal culture and history of the islands and their importance in the fishing industry through the ages. In the evening, there was also a tour of the schools facilities form the enthusiastic Norwegian students, which we quite impressive- a large working farm, aquaculture centre, salmon farm and equine centre.
Day three included another boat trip. This time it was a more sedate ride to a working salmon farm in one of the many fjords in the region. This nicely linked the historical tour of the previous day with the modern equivalent and gave the opportunity for the students to ask a lot of questions about how the salmon farms can be run in a sustainable and environmentally friendly manner. This day also included a tour of the salmon hatchery which rears the salmon and provides the adults for the sea farms. The students were also able to take part in a practical activity analysing the quality of the water in the fjords and identifying the phytoplankton and zooplankton on which the whole aquatic ecosystem relies.
Prior to the trip, our students had prepared a number of posters about the use of water in our own region, from conservation and coastal management to tourism. Day four allowed them to present their work at the SUSSWATER conference at the Rørvik museum. This event was attended by local dignitaries, industry representatives, school children and the local Mayor. The students impressed with their detailed knowledge of our local water resource use and management and with their eye-catching posters. There were also several fascinating and engaging talks from local industry delegates ranging from the designing of electric boats and the effects of climate change in fishing to the recycling of plastic waste and coastal management in the region. The day finished with a fishing trip from a disused salmon farm. For some students this was their first time sea fishing and they were very successful, catching a range of cod, haddock and whiting.
The final day started with all students involved in a beach clean. After an hour of work they had filled a large number of sacks full of waste, mainly plastic – a great effort! In the afternoon a number of students went on a hike from the school up a 100m high mountain and gave them the opportunity to take some photos of the spectacular scenery with panoramic views of beaches, snow topped mountains and numerous fjords.
As well as academic and vocational aspects there was plenty of time for some fun and the students were keen to get involved in all the activities on offer; from playing football, table tennis and pool, to horse-riding and even clay pigeon shooting! The final icing on the cake was an unexpected viewing of the northern lights on the final evening which really topped off a great week and one both staff and students will never forget.
The students presented their imagery and videos captured from their time away to the other students who each had very unique experiences. The Curriculum Leadership Team also watched their presentations as well as the Principals of the College. All of those that went had very positive experiences.
Every student expressed how sincerely grateful they were for the opportunity that the College had provided them. The College is proud to provide students with fantastic, life-changing opportunities. To see the impact and the experience students are taking on their journeys through education and onto their career is uplifting for the College.
Further details about the project and information about the events and activities on the previous visits can be found at www.susswater.com. If you’re interested about studying at South Devon College, information about all courses can be found at www.southdevon.ac.uk. Alternatively, you can email [email protected] or phone on 08000 380 123.