November 2021

TAFE SA Awards

Congratulations to our nine scholarship winners!

Another nine talented TAFE stdents were presented with scholarships at a ceremony held at TAFE’s Tonsley Campus on 25 November.

Jessica Bamford, Skye Dunn, Matthew Slee, Eira Thorstensson and Emily Collins received the Playford Trust / TAFE SA Awards for 2021, while Ajah Herreen, Darcy Kane and David Meier were presented with Open Gardens SA / Playford Trust / TAFE SA Awards.

Stephanie Carnell received the inaugural Sandy’s Memorial Trust / Playford Trust / TAFE SA Award.

Skye attended the ceremony virtually due to her volunteer commitments. You can read more about all nince recipients below.

Jessica Bamford, Diploma of Conservation and Land Management,
Barossa TAFE

Jess is Tree Scheme Operations Manager with Trees for Life, overseeing the production of more than 250,000 native seedlings grown by volunteers across South Australia each year.

Having completed a Certificate 2 in Horticulture and a Certificate 3 in Conservation and Land Management, she is now studying towards her Diploma in CLM at the Barossa campus.

She also is a member of the Adelaide Fungal Studies Group and the Native Orchid Society of South Australia.

Jess’s aim is to undertake studies in soil science and mycology. She is specifically interested in how soil ecology is affected by bushfires and how native fungal species assist in the recovery process.

She believes that continuing to research soil functions and response to bushfire is essential to help us assist with the recovery process.

Jessica Bamford

Skye Dunn, Diploma of Conservation and Land Management, Barossa TAFE

Skye certainly isn’t waiting around to get started with her career.

She completed Certificates 2 and 3 in Conservation and Land Management while in Year 9 at high school – a first for TAFE’s Barossa campus – and now, still aged only 17, she is just weeks away from completing her Diploma.

Her next big project will be creating a plant guide of South Australia, set to be published early next year.

Skye’s passion for the environment has seen her volunteer in the state’s conservation parks, most recently on Kangaroo Island following last January’s bushfires. Her input included surveying, plant identification and protecting heritage land over the course of two weeks.

She also enjoys organising community events in conjunction with the youth environment group YACCA – youth and community conservation action.

Matthew Slee,  Certificate III in Horticulture, Urrbrae TAFE

Matthew started his Certificate 3 at Urrbrae campus last year after being accepted into the Botanic Gardens traineeship program.

He was motivated by a long-term interest in gardening and sustainability and a desire to help maintain and improve Adelaide’s green landscapes.

He says he is enjoying learning practical skills at TAFE and applying them at work in the Mt Lofty Botanic Garden as well as within the Garden Design and Propagation topics. In the future he hopes to pursue a Diploma in Horticulture and Landscape Design.

Matthew has a particular interest in Australian native plant species and in the therapeutic properties of gardening.

He has volunteered with the Friends of Belair National Park and is a member of the Australian Native Plants Society and Therapeutic Horticulture Australia. 

Eira Thorstensson, Certificate III in Horticulture, Urrbrae TAFE

Eira initially studied and enjoyed costume design, but a long-time appreciation for the natural environment motivated a change of direction.

Returning to the family property in the Adelaide Hills during the early months of the Covid 19 pandemic, they became involved with re-vegetation works and landcare and decided the time was right to pursue studies in horticulture and land management.

While undertaking a Certificate 3 in Horticulture at the Urrbrae campus this year, Eira developed a particular passion for soil science and regenerative agriculture, which led to the online study of the soil food web.

Eira has a thirst for knowledge and information. Future plans include undertaking a Certificate 3 in Conservation and Land Management and setting up a home lab specialising in assessing microbiology in soils.

Emily Collins, Certificate III in Horticulture, Urrbrae TAFE

Emily dreamed about working in gardens for years before taking the plunge and enrolling in, first, a Certificate 2 then a Certificate 3 in Horticulture at Urrbrae campus.

She has a background in science, research and curating and hopes the knowledge gained through TAFE will complement her existing skills in exhibition design and allow her to create gardens that make people happy and promote wellbeing.

She says she wants to know how landscaping is done – and would like to see more women involved with the hands-on side of things.

Emily leads a local music ensemble called Queens of the Bronze Age and for this year’s Nature Festival created a special performance for plants in the Waterlily Pavilion at the Botanic Gardens.

She also volunteers in the Museum of Economic Botany and makes tree tours for friends.

Ajah Herreen, Certificate III in Horticulture, Urrbrae TAFE

Ajah loves spending her free time inspiring kids to get outside and into Nature. Volunteering in the vegetable garden at her children’s primary school and showing young students how to grow beautiful organic produce has, she says, brought her endless joy. It also inspired her to pursue her studies in horticulture.

Ajah has planted a permaculture-inspired garden at home and loves to share her organic seasonal produce. She maintains a ‘Grow Free Cart’ at her children’s school so she can donate freshly picked food directly to her local community.

Ajah dreams of running her own a commercial organic market garden one day – full of wonderful fruits and vegetables. For her, it’s all about supplying nutritious seasonal produce, grown in healthy organic soil, in a way that is respectful of the native environment. Hopefully, she says, it will also inspire more people to study horticulture.

Darcy Kane, Diploma of Conservation and Land Management, Urrbrae TAFE

Darcy’s passion for conservation was ignited after he began his Certificate 3 in CLM, and the knowledge he has since gained has enabled him to recognise his role in the conservation and healing of country in Australia.

His main area of interest is indigenous plants, and he works with bushcare groups throughout the Adelaide Hills to help protect areas of conservation significance. He enjoys sharing his knowledge and learning from others. He has combined his studies with related field work with the Department for Environment and Water, including involving himself in the Volunteer Ranger Program.

Darcy is always looking for new ways to connect with nature, and help others do the same. He believes that environmental and cultural education are imperative if we are to combat the ecological challenges facing Australia.

In the future, he would like to work more with Traditional Owners, helping them to care for their country and rejuvenate our modern landscape.

David Meier, Certificate III in Horticulture, and Certificate III in Conservation & Land Management, Urrbrae TAFE

Despite progressing through the ranks of the public service for 29 years, David always had an inner desire to apply for that “landcare officer” or “park ranger” position, rather than the next policy or finance officer job.

Having lived and worked on his family’s grazing farm – and been involved in one of SA’s first grassroots landcare groups – he really wanted to use his skills, hone them and learn more.

In 2018, he resigned from his job, and the desk, and subsequently enrolled at TAFE to get up-to-date with the latest thinking on plants, gardening and revegetation, and expose himself to people and employers in the industry.

David is now a member of the Native Grass Resources Group, which promotes the study, conservation and use of Australian native grasses. He recently worked for a disability support organisation, providing gardening services and training in gardening work for people with disabilities.

With his wife, Fiona, he’s now planning the construction of a wheelchair-accessible holiday house that they can hire out to tourists.

Stephanie Carnell, Diploma in Conservation and Land Management, Urrbrae TAFE

Stephanie has a love for conservation and hopes to pursue a career restoring native ecosystems. She has completed her Certificate 3 in Horticulture and is currently working towards finishing her Diploma in CLM.

Stephanie grew up on a farm, which her parents still run, and she’s been able to apply her knowledge of horticulture to improve the way they use chemicals on their agricultural crops. For example, she’s encouraged a greater focus on targeted spraying to reduce chemical tolerance in weeds.

Outside her studies, Stephanie enjoys applying herself to volunteer roles – including as a Volunteer Ranger for Parks SA. In this capacity, she’s had the opportunity to help ecologists monitor Brush-tailed Bettongs at Innes National Park, as part of the Marna Banggara project, and has also worked with rangers at the Adelaide Dolphin Sanctuary and in other national parks across the state.

Several mornings a week she helps curate summaries of the latest stories on environment and climate change for Environment Victoria’s “News Wrap” online community newsletter, which is delivered to countless inboxes each weekday.