The Agri-Sciences’ third year Conservation Ecology and Entomology class at Stellenbosch University added to diversity by hosting six members of the government sponsored Groen Sebenza internship programme during the recent Diversity Week in October 2014.
The Hantam National Botanical Garden based Groen Sebenza interns were invited to present case studies from their hometown, showcasing how the local communities of Nieuwoudtville and the Suid-Bokkeveld in the Northern Cape influence conservation in that region.
The interns are matriculants from Nieuwoudtville, a small town located in the Hantam-Tanqua-Roggeveld SKEP geographic priority area that blossoms into a tourist destination of note annually from August to October with the popular spring veld flower displays. Presentations had been prepared under mentorship of Mr Eugene Marinus, intern mentor and curator of the Hantam National Botanical Garden in Nieuwoudtville.
During their two-day stay, the group was offered a full guided tour of the Stellenbosch Botanical Garden by its curator, Mr Martin Smit. The Groen Sebenza interns were accompanied to the JS Marais Nature Reserve by Dr Shayne Jacobs. They also spent time learning about tertiary study with Ms Monika Basson, who heads strategic projects and recruitment in the Department of Conservation Ecology and Entomology and co-presented a practical with MSc student, Ms Eleonore Slabbert.
Third year conservation ecology students expressed positive opinions about the visit. They appreciated the divergence from “normal” lecturing, and welcomed the perspective of a group of youths from a different town, area and professional context.
For five of the six interns, their visit to Stellenbosch University was their first experience on an academic campus. It was the first time they prepared and presented content for an academic audience, a task they accomplished with much professionalism and confidence.
As the Department of Conservation Ecology and Entomology and the Agri-Sciences Faculty continue with their strategic mission to diversify their student profile, they find inspiration in creating opportunities for their students to benefit from diversity inside and outside the classroom.