Student Creates Award-Winning Website for Nanaimo Park Users

April 23, 2014 - 8:00am

Student Kim Wetten combined her two passions – birding and physical fitness – to create a new website for Nanaimo park users.

The website provides information about public parks in Nanaimo, including photographs, bird species and an estimate of how many steps it takes to walk through park trails.

Entitled “Steps, Sparrows and Smartphones: Modernizing Nanaimo’s Parks and Birding Information,” Wetten’s presentation about the new website won first place at a year-end research and scholarly activity event held at Vancouver Island University (VIU) recently.

The project also netted Wetten the Trudy Sorenson Undergraduate Award for Scholarship by VIU’s Sports, Health and Physical Education (SHAPE) faculty.

"This undergraduate project provided an amazing opportunity to combine my passion for environmental and physical education,” says Wetten, who graduates in June with a Bachelor of Arts, physical education major and biology minor.

“Not only did I spend the semester doing what I love, which is hiking and birding, but I also gained skills in collecting data, using GPS and website design.”

The website includes information about Buttertubs Marsh, Diver Lake Park, Jack Point and Biggs Park, Pipers Lagoon and Richard’s Marsh Park – all located in Nanaimo.

“I’m passionate about getting anyone at any age outdoors, active and engaging with the environment,” says Wetten.

“Behaviour and disengagement from the natural environment appear to be emerging issues within modern society. These issues can be combated by simply walking outdoors. Nanaimo offers numerous public green spaces that are optimal for walking and birding, but accessible online information is lacking. Through my website, I wanted to promote walking and birding within Nanaimo parks."

Faculty member Dr. Guy Le Masurier, who supervised Wetten’s project, says it speaks to the interdisciplinary nature of VIU’s SHAPE program and the University’s strength in providing scholarly and experiential learning opportunities for students.

“My colleague, Dr. Eric Demers from the faculty of Biology, played a significant role in facilitating Kim’s depth of knowledge in bird biology, and Kim’s passion for human movement and health has been nurtured in the SHAPE program. Kim is an excellent learner and a well-deserving recipient of these recent awards.”

Brad Reimer, who also teaches in the SHAPE department, says Wetten’s project has terrific tourism potential “and adds to the value of anyone using Nanaimo parks.”

Wetten hopes to capture the attention of City Parks and Recreation staff and have a QR barcode for the project posted in city parks so walkers and hikers can scan the code and download website information onto their smartphones or other mobile devices.

Wetten was among 110 VIU students who showcased their research and scholarly activity projects at a recent event called CREATE – a three-day celebration of research excellence and knowledge transfer at VIU in March.

“All VIU students who participated in CREATE did an excellent job developing their research and scholarly activity posters and presentations,” says Kathryn Jepson, of VIU’s Research & Scholarly Activity Office. “It was wonderful to see the diverse range of projects and students this year.”

VIU CREATE award results are published on the web at Wetten’s website project is located at



Janina Stajic, Manager, Communications and Public Engagement, Vancouver Island University P: 250.740.6288 E: Twitter: @VIUNews

Tags: Student Success

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