Interns carry ‘weight’

Cultivating their careers . . . Dunedin Botanic Garden interns (from left) Jonathan Wilson, of Wales, Noud Hoofwijk, of the Netherlands, Spencer Shelton, of the United States, and Julie Mary, of France, take a break from work on Tuesday. PHOTO: SHAWN MCAVINUE

Students are travelling from across the world for physically demanding internships at the Dunedin Botanic Garden.

Garden collections supervisor Barbara Wheeler said the unpaid internships were not advertised and international students contacted the garden directly.

Interning at the garden at present are students Jonathan Wilson, of Wales, Noud Hoofwijk, of The Netherlands, Spencer Shelton, of the United States, and Julie Mary, of France.

Ms Wheeler said the students wanted to complete an internship because having the garden listed on a CV carried “weight”.

Mr Shelton (21), of Atlanta, said he was working hard during his eight-week internship.

“A professor told me it doesn’t matter how tired or sick you feel, get up every day and work as hard as you can, because if you make a good impression, having the name Dunedin Botanic Garden on your CV will have such weight.

“It will change the rest of your life, wherever you want to go.”

The University of Tennessee student said he was getting used to the lack of power tools at the garden.

“Back home, we use a ton of power tools.”

For a job at the garden he deemed a chainsaw suitable to use, he was given a handsaw.

The “old-fashioned methods” were used because they were safer and limited noise pollution, enhancing the visitor experience.

“It’s a lot more physical and takes more time but you get more precise work done.”

Ms Mary (22) is completing an eight-week internship, on a break from study at Agrocampus Ouest, the National Institute of Horticulture and Landscaping, in Angers.

Gardens in France were more “manicured” than the “wild” gardens of New Zealand, she said.

Mr Hoofwijk (23), of Den Bosch, finishes his 10-week internship tomorrow.

The University of Applied Sciences student said he had enjoyed his time in Dunedin.

Mr Wilson (24) is taking a one-year sabbatical from his study at the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh.

Vegetation in Dunedin grew bigger than in Edinburgh because of the greater availability of “food”, such as water and more intense light.

He was interning at the garden for a year to observe New Zealand native plants across four seasons

“It’s the best way to get a feel of a garden.”