Turning vision into action for a better future
The BetterPlanet Project is increasing University of Guelph capacity for innovation and empowering students with the skills and the desire to help change the world. Less than two years since its launch, the BetterPlanet fundraising campaign has attracted donations from more than 54,000 individuals.
Nick Jeffery spent the summer of 2008 working on the U of G BioBus to collect insects for DNA barcoding at the Biodiversity Institute of Ontario. That undergraduate research experience was like an appetizer for Jeffery, who discovered the amazing diversity among Earth's tiniest creatures. Now a PhD student in evolutionary biology, he's pursuing not ants and flies but even smaller arthropods - crustaceans related to crabs and shrimp, but only half a millimetre in length.
On the BioBus, Jeffery travelled throughout Ontario and west to the Rockies, but has since collected marine and freshwater invertebrates over a wide area from Alabama to the Arctic. In particular, he's studying genome size diversity in Arctic species, which are known to have larger genomes and slower development than many of their warm-climate cousins. Jeffery wants to know whether a warmer Arctic will draw more southerly species primed to out-compete the natives for resources.
He was one of the first Guelph students to travel with U of G's BioBus, but Jeffery is followed every summer by a new group of aspiring biologists, thanks to a gift from Ann McCain Evans and Chris Evans that supports the mobile collection lab and provides annual scholarships for student fieldwork. Jeffery says: "The BioBus is an invaluable experience for students and a critical part of the effort to build a database of DNA barcodes."
Guelph donors advance BetterPlanet efforts
Founder Philip Gosling and science director Susan Gosling of the Gosling Foundation announced in March a $1.5-million gift to establish the Gosling Research Institute for
Plant Preservation (GRIPP) at U of G. Headed by Guelph professor Praveen Saxena, GRIPP will develop a platform for interdisciplinary research, education and services for preservation of plant species valuable to life on Earth. The institute’s international programs will focus on biotechnology-based conservation strategies for unique and endangered species of global significance. The Gosling Foundation, a non-profit organization for ecological preservation, protection and education outreach, has previously supported U of G student interns, the Arboretum and conservation efforts to save American elms devastated by Dutch elm disease.
A $1-million gift from Kinross Gold Corp. is funding a new research chair to help U of G translate discoveries into meaningful partnerships and initiatives that encourage sound environmental policy and practice. The gift builds on a U of G - Kinross education and research network that promotes responsible natural resource management. The new Kinross Chair in Environmental Governance will be held by a succession of high-profile experts in the field; the first appointee is Canadian George Greene. An environmental manager and former director of policy development at the Canadian International Development Agency, Greene has led several Canadian teams to international forums on the environment and climate change.
U of G engineering alumnus Wolf Haessler has made a $1-million gift to encourage experiential learning for future Canadian engineers. The Haessler Family Engineering Scholarships will provide 20 scholarships of $5,000 each to students with volunteer or work experience. The gift also supports renovations to the School of Engineering building. From a green roof and rooftop wind turbine to a basement cistern collecting rainwater, a four-storey addition provides built-in examples of sustainable design. Students inspect engineering and architectural designs and study the building's mechanical systems to learn about steam, electricity, water and gas - giving them real-life context for their learning.
Plant scientist Ralph Martin holds the Loblaw Companies Ltd. Chair in Sustainable Food Production at the Ontario Agricultural College. Funded by a $3-million gift from Loblaw Companies Ltd., the chair will focus on the complex and diverse topic of sustainable food, with the goal of making Canada a world leader in the field. Appointed last year, Martin will organize roundtable discussions, create an industry advisory group to guide novel curriculum development, co-ordinate research in agriculture and food production, and lead public- and private-sector collaborations.
After a two-year hiatus, U of G's award-winning first-year seminar program was re-launched in 2011 with seed funding of $1 million from the University of Guelph Alumni Association and a personal gift of $1 million from U of G graduate Tye Burt, CEO of Kinross Gold Corp. and chair of The BetterPlanet Project fundraising campaign. The seminars are multidisciplinary and provide an interactive small-group learning experience.
BetterPlanet Project Campaign Cabinet
Honorary chair: Hon. Lincoln Alexander
Honorary chair: Senator Pamela Wallin
Chair: Tye Burt, BA ’80, President and CEO, Kinross Gold Corp.
Vice-chair: Jeffrey Lozon, BA ’76, President and CEO, Revera Inc.
Christine Alford, B.Sc. ’80, COO, Global Consulting Services, IBM
Gavin Armstrong, Marketing student
Tim Bray, B.Sc. ’81, H.D.Sc. ’09, Founder and chief technology officer, Textuality Services
Philip E. Donne, President, Campbell Company of Canada
Peter Hannam, BSA ’62, H.D.Sc. ’07, President, Woodrill Farms Ltd.
Karen Kuwahara, B.A.Sc. ’76, President, Nestlé Purina PetCare Canada
Francis Lo, B.Comm. ’97, MBA ’98, Co-owner and director of sales and marketing, Flamaglo Foods Ltd.
Anthony Longo, President and CEO, Longo Brothers Fruit Markets Inc.
Peter MacGowan, B.Sc.(Agr.) ’82, Partner, Financial Services Group, Blakes
John Rowsell, B.Sc.(Agr.) ’82, Managing director, Man Investments
Lorraine Stubbs, Owner, Rock Eden Farm
Roland Browning Watt, Lawyer and partner, Mills & Mills LLP
Andrew Wilder, B.Sc.(Agr.) ’84, Senior grain merchant, Horizon Milling G.P.
BetterPlanet Project Advisory Council
H. Anthony Arrell, B.Sc.(Agr.) ’67, Chair and CEO, Burgundy Asset Management Ltd.
Dorothy Campbell, B.H.Sc. ’55, Philanthropist
William Campbell, BSA ’55, M.Sc.(Eng.) ’57, Philanthropist and entrepreneur
W. Robert Farquharson, Vice-chair, AGF Management Ltd.
Philip Gosling, H.D.Sc. ’08, Chair, Candevco Property Group and The Gosling Foundation
Susan Gosling, Philanthropist and agriculturalist
Nona Heaslip, Founder, The William and Nona Heaslip Foundation
Ken Murray, BSA ’50, H.D.La. ’96, Philanthropist and honorary director, Homewood Corp.
Marilyn Murray, B.H.Sc. ’55, Philanthropist and fundraiser
Frank A. Rovers, H.D.La. ’09, Chair and founder, Conestoga-Rovers & Associates
Donald McQueen Shaver, H.D.Sc. ’95, Entrepreneur and founder, Shaver Poultry
Dasha Shenkman, Philanthropist and former literary agent
Roger Warren, H.D.La. ’10, Portfolio manager, RBC Dominion Securities