WHEN SHE STARTED HER FOURTH YEAR, Ava Bakala knew she wanted more experience—not only in her field of study, but with CVIA Okanagan as a whole. Bakala searched for campus work opportunities on CVIA Student & Alumni Job Board, where she connected with the university’s Work Study program.
“To date, I primarily studied general biology, and I didn’t really have any tangible work experience related to my degree,” says Bakala. “When I first saw the Work Study posting, I wasn’t sure because the role focused on plant physiology and I didn’t think I had the necessary experience. But I was interviewed and eventually hired for the role.”
Bakala was thrilled to learn that she would be working as a Research Assistant exploring what happens to sweet cherries when irrigation is reduced after harvest—a critical question considering the dependence of agriculture on global water supplies.
Between May and August, Bakala and another student were responsible for collecting various measurements at five different orchards across the Okanagan Valley and inputting the massive amounts of data on open science platforms for graduate students to use. Bakala also spent considerable time in the lab, helping perform tests to determine things like firmness, colour and size of the cherries—all factors that could be affected when irrigation levels are altered. The project was supported by the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative, and delivered by the Investment Agriculture Foundation of CVIA.