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TRU Williams Lake professor recognized for efforts to promote campus programs

Christian Laas mobilized his colleagues to host an open house for the community
Marilyn McLean, chair Thompson Rivers University Board of Governors, presents a certificate of appreciation to Christian Lass, TRU Williams Lake Campus professor, who lives in 100 Mile House. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)

100 Mile House’s Christian Laas just wanted to raise a little awareness about the programs Thompson Rivers University Williams Lake campus offers.

Before long, however, the biology professor had inspired his fellow TRU professors to run an open house last February for the entire community.

During a recent board of governors meeting in Williams Lake, he was presented a certificate of recognition for excellence from the board, presented by chair Marilyn McLean, for his role in inspiring the open house.

Laas, who has only worked at the TRU campus for the last two years, remarked he was not quite sure who nominated him for the award and was very surprised to receive it.

He explained he first got the idea to raise awareness about his school’s programs when he was in a grocery store in Williams Lake, picking up some supplies for the reptiles in the lab at TRU.When he started talking with a clerk she mentioned she would love to study biology at TRU but was unable to due to her lack of a Grade 12 biology course.At TRU Laas teaches a Grade 12 Biology course and he realized many people, like the clerk, were likely unaware of the full scope of what the school offered.

“I wanted to do a little event where I could teach people, do some experiments with them, and some colleagues said, ‘why don’t we make it a bigger event and more like an open house where people can explore the whole TRU.’”

Happy with the turnout he said he was surprised it “mutated into such a big event.”

In the end, it turned out really well and he was grateful for all the support from his colleagues and the main office.

“It was also nice to get to know all the other colleagues because I am quite new there.”

Laas lives in 100 Mile House on a “little homestead,” where he moved from Germany almost seven years ago. In his spare time, he raises small chickens, duck and rabbits.

His work at TRU Williams Lake sees him commute three times a week, to teach physiology and anatomy to nursing students, as well as an environmental biology course.

“It is kind of a voyage around the fun topics of biology,” he said of the environmental course. “We grow mushrooms, doing something with medicinal plants - we show them how to use them and how to make tinctures.”

The students will also do experiments with glowing plankton.

Through the course, he aims to show people what is fun in biology and said he has had positive feedback. This fall will be the second time he has taught the course.

Another job takes him to Canim Lake, east of 100 Mile House, where he does adventure therapy at a children’s home.

“We take them away from their usual environment to do hay rides and other things to show them another world.”

READ MORE: TRU Williams Lake provides more options for women to try trades

READ MORE: TRU Williams Lake invites public to open house Feb. 16

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Monica Lamb-Yorski

About the Author: Monica Lamb-Yorski

A B.C. gal, I was born in Alert Bay, raised in Nelson, graduated from the University of Winnipeg, and wrote my first-ever article for the Prince Rupert Daily News.
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