The BALI Chalk Fund student of the year competition is a great way to showcase and celebrate the very best in rising talent coming into the industry. This year it’s been a challenge in many ways, but there have still been some great entries, let’s hear from some of those students and their tutors as to why they love what they do and think it’s a great career choice. First up is nominee student Charlotte, and her tutor Danielle from Sparsholt College.
So how did you get into horticulture/landscaping?
Charlotte: “It all stemmed from work experience I carried out at a local nursery. My brother had worked at the nursery for over 10 years, and it seemed like a good place to start my journey. I’m fascinated by how plants could be cloned just by taking cuttings, plant production is so satisfying. In 2019 I chose to go to Sparsholt College, and I have since completed the Level 3 Advanced Technical Extended Diploma in Horticulture. I have learnt an array of skills whilst studying, such as estate skills, paving techniques, plant propagation and working with wood to create different structures such as decking and pergolas”.
Danielle: “I started my journey as a student of Sparsholt College in 2004 where I studied the Level 3 National Diploma in Horticulture and then the Foundation Degree in Horticulture. I then became interested in the teaching of Horticulture and having worked at the College in the Horticultural Department for 11 years now, I have never looked back. As a child I was always interested in growing plants and being outdoors and this is something I have now passed on to my children”.
Was this career path ever highlighted at school?
Charlotte: “I first knew I wanted to take this career path when I completed my work experience in Year 10 at a local nursery. Before I started the work experience, there was not a lot of information on Horticulture from school. I found out about this career path through friends and family. I believe there should be more done to highlight this in schools and give students an insight into Horticulture as a possible future career”.
What do you love about this industry?
Charlotte: “I love that this industry is outdoors. It means I can feel productive, but without the stressful feeling of being stuck in an office all day. It also greatly benefits my mental health”.
Danielle: “The diversity and scope of subjects and work available. The seasonal change within the plants brings an element of surprise to us, and there is always a job to do whatever the weather. I have a great passion for Horticultural Education and for me, being able to see the learners thrive, successfully complete their course and move into employment at the end of the year fills me with pride”.
Why do you think people should consider this as a career?
Charlotte: “I know for some; academic work can be tricky. I struggled with this in school and always wondered what I could do. Once I found out about the horticulture industry, I realised my dream job was out there. With Horticulture being a real hands-on practical course, I knew it was for me”.
Danielle: “Horticulture is an emerging trend and since the start of the pandemic, outdoor activities, growing plants and becoming self-sufficient is ever more popular. There are many career options from a landscape operative to a plant propagator, the opportunities are endless and certainly not to be missed”.
What has been the highlight of your horticulture course?
Charlotte: “The highlight of my course over the past two years has been knowing that I have the opportunity to participate in the upcoming RHS Chelsea Flower Show. I have been selected as part of the construction team, and we are currently putting everything together to be ready for September. This has been one of the best experiences I have been involved in so far, and I am really looking forward to the show”.
What advantages are there to receiving an education in horticulture and landscaping?
Danielle: “You learn valuable skills such as Plant Identification and Science to develop the knowledge of how plants grow and their requirements. The qualifications are also recognised internationally and are transferable if you would like to work overseas. The knowledge, skills, and life experiences you will gain from others is often more valuable than if you were to go straight into work. The additional tickets/certificates of competency that are available will also make you more employable”.
What’s your advice to the next generation coming into the industry?
Danielle: “Study hard and complete your qualifications to the best of your ability. Learn the invaluable skills and knowledge from others in the industry and take the opportunities where presented. Organise some work experience within Horticulture before commencing a course, and where possible take up the opportunity of completing additional tickets of competency alongside your qualification/employment. Aim high!”.
What are your plans for the next 5 years?
Charlotte: “Over the next five years, I would love to take on more landscaping opportunities and find out more about the skills and techniques, so that I can link them to my work. To achieve this, I am hoping to volunteer to help some friends and family with their own gardens, maybe even build up a customer base? At some point in the future, I would like to be successful in running my own horticultural business”.
What would be your plans for spending the prize money if you won?
Charlotte: “I have decided to put the money towards a new set of tools that I can use both in my own garden and in future jobs”!
Danielle: “If successful with the National award nomination, the money would be utilised to invest and update our practical surveying equipment.