2015 ACHES Conference

Here is a student perspective on the 2015 ACHES Conference. Read along to learn more about a typical day at the ACHES Conference and all the benefits of attending!

Amanda Dufault and Sara Michelle Weinman, Brescia University College classmates, had the wonderful opportunity to travelled to Winnipeg, Manitoba to attend this year’s Association of Canadian Human Ecology Students or ACHES Conference. Here they networked with other Human Ecology students around the country while further increasing their education regarding the Human Ecology profession as a whole. This was Amanda’s third and Sara Michelle’s second time attending the ACHES Conference and both students truly believe in the benefits that this experience brings to Human Ecology students around the country. However, the ACHES organization and conference are not very well known even to individuals within the profession. With this in mind, Amanda and Sara Michelle want to share their experiences to spread the word and promote ACHES and to encourage other students to get excited about Human Ecology by getting involved in ACHES!

ACHES as an organization has the ultimate goal to “foster unity and communication between Human Ecology students, ensuring strength and sustainability of the Association”. ACHES is a nationwide organization that currently consists of four schools: The University of Alberta, The University of Manitoba, Brescia University College affiliated with Western University and The University de Moncton. As an organization, ACHES holds an annual conference each year that rotates through the four aforementioned universities. The host university’s Human Ecology department or club organizes the conference. ACHES 2015 was hosted at the University of Manitoba and was organized by the Human Ecology Student Organization (HESO). HESO did an incredible job but was faced with a particularly difficult hurdle this year: the University of Manitoba is undergoing a restructuring of their faculties and the Human Ecology department has been eliminated. HESO’s continued dedication to ACHES demonstrates that although Human Ecology students and professionals realize the importance of the profession, it is often unvalued and cast aside by universities. It is therefore vital, now more than ever, to promote Human Ecology and demonstrate its value to students, professionals and the general population.

Students often ask, “What do you do at an ACHES Conference” or “What is the typical day like for an ACHES Conference?” ACHES Conferences are generally three jam-packed days. In the mornings there are a handful of speakers or tours that take place, which are related to Food and Nutrition, Family Studies or Textiles. Some of the speakers who presented at this year’s ACHES conference included: Jorie Janzen, a Sport Dietitian, Will Reimer, a Technical Designer from Mondetta and Brittney Bartecki of the Winnipeg WISH Clinic. Lunch and snacks are provided throughout day. The meals are provided by the conference and aim to represent local foods or a local business. After lunch, there are two or three more speakers along with a fun physical activity! Human Ecology students understand the importance of having a healthy lifestyle so at ACHES 2015, the conference delegates participated in a Step Class and a Body Fusion Class. In the evenings, the host school’s students take the other delegates out to dinner. These meals aim to display local food or local restaurants to show the unique culture of each province. In Winnipeg the delegates enjoyed dinner at Billabong Restaurant, The Peasant Cookery and Prairie 360. During dinner delegates from different backgrounds and provinces make lifelong friendships. Connecting Human Ecology students from across the country is one of the major goals of the ACHES conference!

Still not convinced participating in the ACHES conference is an excellent experience to add to your Human Ecology education? Not only do you have the opportunity to network with other Human Ecology students from around the country but you get to interact with other Human Ecology professionals that you would not be able to had you stayed in Ontario. Having these discussions with different professionals in the industry can open up doors and add new opportunities that you have never thought of before. Each province and university has different areas within Human Ecology they are focusing on that you may have not been aware of had you stayed in Ontario. Did you know that The University of Manitoba is currently developing a cookie that contains enough beta-glucan to significantly reduce your chances of heart disease? Not only did this conference provide the chance to learn about this groundbreaking research, but delegates also had the chance to try the product! Likewise, the ACHES Conference is a great way to show your dedication and passion for the profession to future employers. By participating in these types of conferences it shows your initiative to further your education not only for academics but for your own enjoyment. Lastly it is fun! Travelling to new places and having delicious dinners is always a blast!

One downside of participating in the ACHES Conference each year is the cost of attending and travelling to the conference. The conference fee is approximately $295.00 per person, which is a lot for any university student. The conference fee covers accommodations, transportation during the conference, all meals, speaker fees, activity fees and any other conference fees deemed necessary. That is a lot of “bang for your buck!” With all this being said, Sara Michelle and Amanda would like to send a special thank you to the Student Human Ecology Association (SHEA) and the Ontario Human Ecology Association (OHEA) for helping fund their trip to the ACHES 2015 Conference in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Your donations were very much appreciated. SHEA and OHEA made this incredible experience possible for Amanda and Sara Michelle, both full-time students, and for that, they are incredibly grateful.

The benefits the ACHES Conference can bring to a Human Ecology student’s education and prospective career are truly significant. Next year, the conference is hosted by the University of Alberta and hopefully many more Human Ecology students from Brescia University College will venture out West and take part in this unique opportunity that will only add value to their undergraduate experience.

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