Thompson Rivers University

Conservation Project Is for the Turtles

  Posted on: April 16, 2014

Project is for the turtles

At the encouragement of her classmates, Jessica Eustache (front) pretends to be a basking turtle.

Getting your feet muddy for a conservation project is a pretty good way to wind up a winter class.

That’s how Matt Reudink‘s conservation biology class ended things last Friday when they installed specially-designed basking logs for western painted turtles in McArthur Island slough.

Watch a short timelapse from the installation.


The students created the logs as well as sourced the materials. Each log is made up of unfinished planks, plastic foam for buoyancy, and a concrete block connected to the log by wire cable. The block is buried and keeps the log from floating away. The cable allows the log to rise and fall as the water level changes.

The project was not only collaborative on construction and installation days, but also in planning. Students pitched various ideas and then voted on them.

“One of the most important things is learning to work with other students, and to learn what teamwork is,” says fourth-year Natural Resource Sciences student Jessica Eustache of one of the intangible byproducts of the project. “We all had to pull together at the same time. It’s a different experience than bookwork.”

Installing basking logs was a good one because the turtle is somewhat at risk, and creating the logs was not too difficult. The proper permissions to install were also obtained.

Other great ideas, but not selected included cleaning up Daybreak Rotary pond located at the front entrance of the Tournament Capital Centre, building bat boxes, building Mason bee habitat, and public outreach with schools.

For the past few years, the class has wrapped up with an on-the-ground conservation project. Last year students created a native plant garden on campus behind the Science and Health Sciences building and the year before, it was the wooden birdhouses for chickadees and nuthatches. Those houses are still in use and can be seen around campus.

Back to Friday’s class. After the logs had been put in places, some photos taken, everyone made their way to a grassy area by NorBrock stadium for a  potluck BBQ. Not a bad way to end a class. 

Basking turtle project group photo