MTRI is a non-profit co-operative with a mandate to promote sustainable use of natural resources and biodiversity conservation in the Southwest Nova Biosphere Reserve and beyond through research, education, and the operation of a field station.
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The Mersey Tobeatic Research Institute was established in 2004 and within a couple of years was able to purchase its field station in the small rural community of Kempt, Queens County. To achieve its goal of promoting sustainable resource use, members of the MTRI co-operative have adopted ambitious education and outreach objectives and always strive to keep the lines of communication open between members and researchers and with the public. MTRI’s plan for outreach includes a number of signature events such as monthly seminars about local research projects through the winter and a weekly series of seminars throughout the summer. Each year, MTRI hosts a Woodlot Demonstration in the fall and an Open House around the Christmas holiday. MTRI also works with North Queens schools to bring students to the field station in early summer to meet researchers. All of these education projects, and others, are advertised through local newspapers, by word of mouth, and other means. To evaluate the success of these efforts, phone surveys to local residents have been ongoing.
To determine how successful MTRI’s education and outreach activities have been at reaching members of the local community.
To create a database of baseline information related to the perceptions of the residents of southwest Nova Scotia to activities taking place in and around MTRI.
To enable local citizens of southwest Nova Scotia to become involved in research and monitoring activities in their area.
A series of questions was developed to assess the participant’s awareness of activities in and surrounding MTRI, including topics such as: whether people have heard about MTRI and what are their information sources; asking if people know what MTRI does; creating a profile of willing respondents which describes their outdoor activities, dependence on the forest industry, their visitation of Kejimkujik, their age, and their gender; determine what people know about invasive fish, old forests, and species at risk; determine the values and concerns of respondents about economic and environmental issues.
Random phone numbers in the North Queens exchange were called and permission was requested of the household resident to answer the survey.
Volunteers and staff of MTRI collected answers and analyzed the data gathered from phone conversations with local citizens.
The community of North Queens includes approximately 800 households. Of those who were phoned, 56 people agreed to answer a series of questions.
Of those, 40 had heard of MTRI; 19 people who had heard about MTRI had read about it in newspaper articles, 23 had seen posters in the community, and 19 had heard about MTRI’s public talks. Five interviewees had attended a public talk, and one had visited MTRI’s website.
When asked what MTRI works on, the most common responses were: Blanding's turtles, loons, forestry and wildlife, species at risk, and ribbonsnakes, but there was also a variety of different answers.
Of those interviewed, 41% said that someone in their household worked in the forest industry.
Kejimkujik had been visited in the past year by 21 of the respondents
Of the 56 respondents who answered questions, 42 said they participated in outdoor activities. The most popular activities were (in order): hiking (28/42), bird watching (28/42), fishing (25/42), bicycling (21/42), camping (20/42), hunting (19/42), driving an ATV (19/42), canoeing (17/42), and cross-country skiing (7/42).
When asked what came to mind as major economic problems or issues in North Queens, the most common responses were: lack of jobs and problems in the forest and mill closures, although there were a variety of answers.
When asked what comes to mind as major environmental problems or issues in North Queens, the most common responses were: clear cutting, acid rain, and pollution, although there were a large variety of different answers.
There were 40 respondents who had heard of the Smallmouth bass and Chain pickerel, and most of those knew about the environmental problems that they cause.
There were 50 people that thought that old growth forests are important to the environment because of their role as animal’s habitats, their beauty, their history, and the new growth they bring.
When asked if the interviewees could identify some endangered species, the most common answers were: Blanding's turtles, ribbonsnakes, and Mainland moose but people also suggested lady slippers, loons, and a number of other species.
46% of respondents were male and 54% were female.
Ongoing project since 2007