Four gardening enthusiasts will set out on an opportunity of a lifetime tomorrow, when the jet off to Bournemouth, England to broaden their horizons as part of the Bermuda Skills Development Programme.

Kacy Greene, Troy Watson, Leric Lightbourn and Shalae Johnston received well wishes from the Minister responsible for the programme, Public Works Minister Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch.

Speaking at a news conference today, Colonel Burch said one of the graduates had been to the UK before, as the group is set to be abroad for 3½ weeks.

“So it should be an enlightening experience for all of them,” he said.

As the first trip of its kind, he also noted that the group will take part in the annual Bournemouth in Bloom exhibition.

He also acknowledged the presence of Mrs Cindy Young, President of the Garden Club of Bermuda along with Brother Collin Simmons, Education Officer of the Bermuda Industrial Union. 
 
Together with the Department of Parks, they are the principal partners in the Skills Development Programme.
 
The programme is designed “to equip young people with skills, knowledge and experience to assist in making them attractive for employment opportunities in both the public and private sector”.
 
The end goal is to “reduce the likelihood of these young people engaging in anti-social  behaviours”.
 
“Not only does the programme offer structure, training and support, it provides life skills training and opportunities for them to showcase their potential and talent,” said Col Burch.
 
“Originally, when the programme started some three years ago it was a volunteer programme
for three-days-a-week.”
 
Since then, he said: “It has evolved and is now funded by the Bermuda Garden Club and over
the last two years it has received generous donations from various other sectors of the  community.”
 
He also noted that “young people participate on a voluntary basis and are provided with a stipend at the end of each module so they learn to give something back to their community and also receive a monetary award”.
 
For the past four cohorts, the Minister added that the programme has “developed a curriculum that helps teach life and career skills that are beneficial for successful employment”.
 
“The hands-on training exposes participants to a higher level of horticulture and boosts their
confidence,” said Col Burch.
 
“This innovative training course includes ten modules that includes a module on ‘CPR/First Aid’ along with verbal and hands on assessments, at the end of each module.
 
“Participants are also given the tools to assist in life lessons such as how to conduct themselves in an interview, time management, and team work,” he added.
 
The four participants will be travelling with instructor, Mr Roger Parris – the Supervisory Foreman at the Arboretum.
 
While training, they will also be “exposed to a variety of disciplines that will enable them to further improve and develop their skills in the landscape and horticulture field”.
 
“On the Bournemouth end Mr Christopher Colledge, Chairman of Bournemouth Botanical
Gardens has been instrumental in facilitating the training in the UK and developing a long term relationship with the Bermuda Department of Parks,” said the Minister.
 
“Of course none of this would be possible without the incredible support of the Garden Club
of Bermuda who are the charity that funds the Skills Development programme, receive
donations from other community partners and are sponsoring the Bournemouth training
experience.”
 
He also encouraged the participants to use their time abroad wisely.
 
“To the participants I encourage you to use your time at Bournemouth Gardens wisely.
 
“The training and exposure should be viewed as planting the seeds that will nurture and grow
your soft and hard skills that can be used in your future careers,” he said.
 
“You will be exposed to a different culture, mindset and skills while in Bournemouth. Like the
roots of a tree during the rain – soak up all the knowledge and experience that you can.
 
“And when you return to Bermuda put those skills and knowledge into practice, whether it be in the private or public sector and don’t be afraid to impart that knowledge and skill to others.
 
“It is no secret that the horticulture and landscape industry in Bermuda both in the private and the public sector is always looking for qualified Bermudians who are passionate, trained, skilled and reliable to be employed in that industry,” said Col Burch.
 
“There are a wealth of opportunities available in the horticulture and landscape industry and
while it is not for everyone – you all have shown that you have an interest and desire to pursue this course and ideally you have also found your passion which will make this an enjoyable career – not just a job.”
 
He also thanked Mr Parris and Mr Sam Santucci, the facilitators, “who execute it with dedication, compassion and love of both the work and the participants”, Mrs Young of the Garden Club of Bermuda and Brother Simmons..
  • Photos Courtesy of DCI Include Public Works Minister Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch, Shalae Johnson, Leric Lightbourn, Troy Watson, Kacy Greene, Skills Development facilitators Roger Parris and Sam Santucci, Cindy Young and Collin Simmons