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NMIT Horticulture Graduates Win Scholarships to Jerusalem

22 Mar 2013

Two recent Diploma of Ornamental Horticulture graduates from NMIT (Northern Melbourne Institute of TAFE) are the first Australians to be awarded scholarships to work at Israel's Jerusalem Botanic Gardens (JBG).

Trevor Seppings and Natalie Simmons are due to leave on March 15 for their six month placement, an opportunity provided by the Jewish National Fund of Australia. The 30 acre gardens, in the heart of Jerusalem, house 10,000 plant species - including 200 Australian plants - making it the largest of its kind in Israel.

Natalie, who lives in Abbotsford, says the scholarship is 'a fantastic chance to explore my options within horticulture'. She's enthusiastic at the chance to work at the gardens, as Israel, like Australia, faces the challenge of maintaining a world-class garden in a harsh environment. 'The Israelis are the experts - they invented drip-line irrigation which has become critical in Australia. They're greening the desert - there's so much I'll be able to learn.'

Trevor, from St Kilda, is equally as enthusiastic. 'This is a fantastic opportunity, not only to learn about plants from around the world, but to be able to explore the importance of gardens as community spaces.' Trevor hopes to learn more about plant health, propagation, irrigation and water conservation. Both graduates see the scholarship as a two-way exchange, and are looking forward to sharing some of their knowledge as well, particularly regarding Australian species like eucalypts. 'Although,' Trevor says, 'at the end of the day I know I'll be digging a lot of holes.'

Trevor and Natalie studied at NMIT's Fairfield campus and acknowledge the dedication of the teachers who encouraged them to apply for the scholarship. Mike Hirst, NMIT's Landscape Coordinator in the Horticulture Department, has no doubt it will be a valuable experience. 'This opportunity will be great for the students - they'll come back with lots of new skills and knowledge they can use over here.'

The pair are the first Australians to undertake the scholarship program, which has previously been awarded to students from England and Japan. The program involves working with JBG's gardening team as well as undertaking a personal project such as testing and acclimatizing new Australian plant species. The students will also join botanical tours, seed collection trips and a tour of the Dead Sea.

Interview / Photo Opportunity

Media enquiries should be directed to the NMIT Communications Officer, James Gardener, on (03) 92691579, 0413 483 182 or

NMIT (Northern Melbourne Institute of TAFE) - Situated on six campuses and six training centres throughout Melbourne's north plus a regional campus at Ararat, NMIT delivers vocational training, higher education and lifelong learning capabilities for a global workforce. NMIT forges partnerships with community, industry and government to produce practical, solution orientated graduates capable of making meaningful contributions to their chosen field of endeavour.


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