One-stop career shop for biodiversity

Pupils from Cape Academy of Maths Science and Technology in Tokai explore the herbarium.

A Kirstenbosch research centre was buzzing last week during a career event that gave school pupils a taste of what a job in conversation could look like.

Sally Hey, from Kirstenbosch’s environmental education centre, organised the Kirstenbosch Biodiversity and Conservation Careers event. It’s the seventh year it has been held.

The idea is that pupils wanting to get into conservation get advice on just how to do that.

Fourteen schools were invited to the event at the SA National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) centre at Kirstenbosch. Four of them were specialist maths, science and technology schools which were invited annually, They are the Cape Academy of Maths Science and Technology in Tokai, the Centre of Science and Technology in Khayelitsha, LEAP Science and Maths School in Langa, and Claremont High.

The other 10 schools vary from year to year.

The 15 pupils selected from each school must be studying maths and at least one science subject.

Jamme Lee is a former Groenvlei High pupil who attended the event in 2014. She is now a Sanbi intern doing her in-service training at Kirstenbosch. “After being inspired by the different career options at this event, I wanted to study conservation and knew that I wanted to work here,” she said.
“It’s like a dream come true, working in the garden, hiking to check signage, collecting seeds, alien clearing and some admin. Every day I’m learning something new and this keeps me motivated.”

Jamme is now in her final year of studies at CPUT. Each school moved between 13 career and
four university stations at 15-minute intervals. Some of the pupils also got to see the laboratories and the scientists’ work stations.

The groups were escorted by Sanbi education staff, interns and Botanical Society volunteers.

Anthony Whate, a teacher at Pelican Park High, said the event had been well structured and informative and the pupils had enjoyed themselves and asked lots of questions. Thafier Ely, of Silikamve High inHoutBay,wasimpressed
with the diversified selection
from research to university programmes.