Testimonials from Previous Students on the International Diploma for Botanic Garden Education
The 2012 International Diploma course was very successful, with 10 participants from 10 countries around the world; from Australia to Nigeria, Finland to Turkey, Canada to Kyrgyzstan. See below for testimonials of students from both the 2012 course and 2006. If the students’ testimonies tempt you, complete an application form and send it in as soon as possible - last date for submissions is 12th February 2014.
| Liz Hood, Canada|
Name: Liz Hood
Job title: Director of Education, Toronto Botanical Garden
What are your responsibilities at your garden? I direct educational programming services for almost 20,000 adults and children annually through adult and children's education, tours and Canada's largest private horticultural library. I coordinate symposia and lectures for professionals and non-professional gardeners, drive forward innovative new programs like our Urban Beekeeping Series, participate as an active member of TBG’s Executive Committee and lead our organizational Strategic Planning review.
Why were you interested in attending this course? As a new director, I felt that this would be a tremendous opportunity to sharpen my skills in all aspects of botanic gardens education, project and staff management and provide me with invaluable international experience and insights to the role botanic gardens play world-wide.
What did you get out of the course? What did you learn and what has been valuable to you? The rewards of spending time in the gardens, library, herbarium and with the exceptional staff at Kew and BGCI cannot be overemphasized. This is truly a remarkable institution of beauty and learning; five weeks barely scratched the surface. I particularly appreciated gaining insights into enhancing the visitor experience, creative marketing and promotion, and identifying unique ways to weave conservation messages into dynamic educational programming.
How has the course improved or impacted on your work? It certainly has. Understanding the linkages between the work done at TBG and other botanic gardens around the world has been important to my view of ‘how we fit’. In particular, small but insightful changes to our programming such as implementing Garden Ambassadors to animate the gardens, and a review of TBG’s Visitor Experience will greatly enhance TBG’s educational impact to all its visitors.
| Satu Jovero, Finland|
Name: Satu Jovero
Job title: Educational curator in the Finnish Museum of Natural History
What are your responsibilities at your garden? I am taking care of the interpretation and education in two botanic gardens (Kaisaniemi & Kumpula) and at the Natural History Museum in Helsinki. My work tasks include:
- designing and developing programs for visiting school groups
- developing other complementary services for schools and other visitors
- designing and developing exhibitions and interpretive materials
- training and supporting our freelance guides in their work
Why were you interested in attending this course? I am a trained class teacher specialized in environmental education & biology. I have a lot of expertise on the field of education, but education in botanic gardens is a relatively new area for me. It was very beneficial to broaden my knowledge about botany, botanic gardens and plant education. I was also very pleased to get connected to other BG education professionals and in seeing different interpretive solutions in practice.
What did you get out of the course? What did you learn and what has been valuable to you? Our Kaisaniemi botanic garden will be going through a major restoration and face-lifting in the near future. The knowledge obtained from the course will be very precious when planning new contents and designing public programs & services in the setting of Kaisaniemi BG.
How has the course improved or impacted on your work? This restoration project is a unique possibility to upgrade the educational level of Kaisaniemi botanic garden. In my diploma work, I was trying to get a better understanding of our audiences and their current activities in the gardens. This will hopefully help us to establish good quality interpretation into Kaisaniemi Botanic Garden in the future.
| Hitendra K. Ram, India|
Name: Hitendra K. Ram
Job title: Plant Taxonomist, Minor Forest Produce Processing And Research Centre, India
What are your responsibilities?:
I am responsible for identification of medicinal plants along with preparation & maintenance of herbarium. Development of training modules on value addition and sustainable harvesting of Non-Timber Forest Produces (NTFPs) for different stakeholders. I also coordinate field survey, reporting and documentation.
Why were you interested in attending this course?
I had a strong desire to have a practical exposure at a Botanical Garden of International repute (perhaps Mecca of Botanists and Taxonomists) and to improve my capabilities to explore plants and experience the botanical garden for public education activities and conservation.
What did you get out of the course? What did you learn and what has been valuable to you? I gained a lot of knowledge and experience while attending this course regarding various aspects related to education, efficient garden interpretation to entertain various kinds of visitors of different purposes. The most important thing I learned about community engagement was to prepare strategies for conservation.
The most valuable aspect of the course was the message that, any simple and small resource can be used to disseminate knowledge through an ‘efficient’ and ‘just’ way of practical education.
How has the course improved or impacted on your work? The course has made me much more confident and gave a vision to develop garden interpretation skill, educational activities and conservation strategies.
- Now I have sufficient experience to improve demonstration plot designs to be effective for visitor’s education and attraction.
- I could modify current interpretations of the facts for better understanding and effective learning of object.
- Big Budget is no more a problem, even a small budget is sufficient for imparting basic knowledge regarding conservation aspects.
- More practical knowledge regarding life forms induces more attachment, and that in turn leads to an easier and better mode of conservation.
Name: Eugenia Alvarez
| Eugenia Alvarez, Argentina|
Job title: Administrator of the institution, Cordoba, Argentina
What types of work do you do at your garden? Coordination of all the activities of the garden, educational project design and managing
Why were you interested in attending this course? Because the contents of the course were very interesting for my work in the garden and for future developments into the garden and the Argentinean Botanic Gardens Network
What did you get out of the course? What did you learn and what has been valuable to you? It was interesting to share experiences with my colleagues on the course and see different examples of education in other gardens in the UK and other approaches that could be useful for us in education and interpretation topics
I learnt important issues in raising money, interpretation and planning of educational programmes during the course. The most valuable thing I learned is that we are not alone in the gardens doing our work, all the educators around the world are working together to share a nature conservation message with people in the community. Working hard, we can make the difference.
How has the course improved or impacted on your work? Positively impacted, it was a great opportunity for me to know professional experiences in education, good results, bright people, fantastic places and new possibilities to work with others in the conservation of our plants. All of these input will be applied to our garden and shared with our staff, and with the entire Argentinean Botanic Gardens Network.
Name: Godwin Tanda
| Godwin Tande, from Cameroon|
Job title: Environmental Education Officer, Limbe, Cameroon
What work do you do at your garden? I coordinate all environmental education programmes such as outreach in schools and communities, nature interpretation, guided tours, production of education materials (brochures, leaflets, etc), designing and implementation of projects, trainings, publications etc. I also supervise and monitor interns and their work programmes.
Why were you interested in attending this course? My reasons for attending the course were many but I was particular interested in:
- experiencing other botanic gardens in the UK.
- improving my professional skills such in fundraising, marketing, communications and training
- being able to run education and conservation projects with little budget
- being able to efficiently manage education programmes
- increasing opportunities for future professional development
- meeting experts from other countries and setting up a network for work and social interactions
What did you get out of the course? What did you learn and what has been valuable to you? I learned about different botanic garden education programmes for audiences of various ages, backgrounds and with different needs. I also learnt about interpretation and development of interpretive information, trails and themes. I am using these skills to change the interpretive phase of our Garden. I have improved on developing easy ways of engaging people to understand strategies for plant conservation.
How has the course improved or impacted on your work? It has provided me with educational, communications, language and managerial skills which I am currently putting into action for efficiency in environmental education.
Name: Roberto P. Cereno
Robbie receiving his attendance certificate from
BGCI's Secretary General, Sara Oldfield
Job title: Head, Makiling Botanic Gardens and Program Leader for Biodiversity Conservation Education, Philippines
What types of work do you do at your garden? Supervise and participate in the preparation and dissemination of information and education materials; provide interpretation and guiding services inside the Makiling Botanic Gardens and the Mount Makiling Forest Reserve; render technical assistance and expert advice to institutions and other agencies regarding biodiversity conservation, environmental education, and ecotourism.
Why were you interested in attending this course? To enhance my capabilities to plan and implement educational programmes for appropriate audience, and to mobilise resources to carry out the Botanic Gardens’ mandate.
What did you get out of the course? What did you learn and what has been valuable to you? Acquired deeper understanding, further knowledge and applicable skills to: design and implement educational activities in order to engage and relate with visitors, identify themes and approaches to conduct interpretation, and prepare resource generation proposals.
How has the course improved or impacted on your work? The course has furthered my expertise, experience and resolve to put into practice education about, in and for the environment.
Name: Úna Sweeney
Job title: Craft gardener, Ireland
Una Sweeney, from Ireland,
a keen educator and composter!
What types of work do you do at your garden? I'm mainly involved in the day to day maintenance of the gardens. I have responsibility for the composting/wormeries within the gardens, plant pest management which is done using biological control and managing the glasshouse collections.
Why were you interested in attending this course? I have a background in teaching organic horticulture so have a strong interest in education. In my current place of work it is hoped that we will be able to establish an education facility within the garden in the future. It was recommended that I attend the course to gain a foundation in how to develop this proposal.
What did you get out of the course? What did you learn and what has been valuable to you? A good overview in how to develop an education programme. It helped me realise that there is more than meets the eye when it comes to developing interpretation. I observed that good interpretation looks simple but getting that result isn't as easy as it looks.
How has the course improved or impacted on your work? Currently the garden staff are involved in doing a five year plan for the gardens. We are looking at bringing in new ideas in developing guided themed trails and I have been able to give good input based on what I learned on the course. Also I am developing a website for the gardens which was inspired by the course.