In less than two years, Kelly Riehl went from leading fishing expeditions on Haida Gwaii off of British Columbia’s west coast to sitting in the Prime Minister’s seat in Parliament in Ottawa. A second-year Renewable Resource Management student at Lethbridge College, Riehl was one of 10 winners from across Canada of a prestigious scholarship awarded by the Parliamentary Outdoor Caucus.
A life-long outdoor enthusiast who worked as a professional fishing guide before coming to Lethbridge College, Riehl was the only scholarship recipient from Alberta, among a field of university, college and technical institute students from across the country. He says his background and studies met the requirements of the selection committee, which earned him a $3,000 scholarship, a new fishing rod and reel from scholarship sponsor Shimano North America Fishing, and a trip to Ottawa in February that included a guided tour of Parliament by members of the Parliamentary Outdoor Caucus.
“The experience of going to Ottawa was something I couldn’t really believe,” says Riehl. “I never thought that having a fishing problem could take you to the big chair – it’s just the one thing that I love doing in life. It's kind of funny. I enjoyed it, it was a fantastic experience to meet the people that make decisions for fish and wildlife in Canada.”
Riehl is one of many students who had unique and noteworthy experiences at Lethbridge College in the 2018 and 2019 academic year. Among the many success stories, highlights include:
- Geoff Sage, Sarah Julin and Kaitlin Machacek from the Ecosystem Management Degree program, along with instructor Dr. Everett Hanna, earned recognition from the Alberta Chapter and Canadian Section of The Wildlife Society. Machacek won the $1,500 Ian Ross Memorial Scholarship, while Sage and Julin each earned third place honours for their respective student presentations. Hanna was selected for the Kristina Norstrom Dedicated Service Award.
- Justin Bruised Head (Ecosystem Management Degree) and Jason Cotton (Renewable Resource Management) were both selected to represent the Kainai First Nation at SevenGen 2019: Powering Resilience in Calgary in January. This was the world’s first Indigenous student energy summit and Bruised Head and Cotton were selected as the only two representatives from Kainai. Cotton has been hired as a research assistant in the Mueller Irrigation program this summer and is returning to the Ecosystem Management Degree program in the fall.
- Lethbridge College Students’ Association President Nicholas Coley (Business Administration – Management) worked with various groups within the college to launch the “Borrow a Textbook” initiative, which allows students to access select textbooks through the Buchanan Library.
“Seeing our students succeed in so many varied ways is very heartening for all of us at Lethbridge College,” says Dr. Paula Burns, President and CEO. “It’s an indication that they are following their passions and are ready to achieve great things as they move forward with their careers.”
Riehl will return to Lethbridge College in the fall to finish his Renewable Resource Management diploma and may pursue his Ecosystem Management degree. His experiences at Lethbridge College, combined with his own interests and background, are starting to shed light on where his career could take him.
“There are the conservation and enforcement ends of this career – and then there is the science side,” says Riehl. “I’ve found that my interests peak towards the science side, so you could say I found myself at Lethbridge College and I know what direction I want to go to now. It's definitely opened the doors to what's out there. Once you get into school and make that choice to go, it's amazing what you'll discover.”
LISTEN: Riehl describes his experiences in Ottawa: