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The Hon Dr Sharman Stone MP
Federal Member for Murray
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister
for the Environment and Heritage

24 February 2000


Eight of New South Wales' budding student scientists have been officially congratulated for their hard work over summer as part of a unique plant research program.

Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Environment and Heritage, Dr Sharman Stone, was on hand today to present the Student Botanical Internship Program participants with their graduation certificates.

The NSW students were among 16 student scientists who sacrificed their summer holidays to participate in the voluntary scheme, run by the Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research in Canberra. The Centre is jointly run by Environment Australia and the CSIRO.

Dr Stone said the Interns would leave the program with a better understanding of Australia's unique flora and, skills needed to enter the scientific and natural resource management field.

The Internship included eight weeks of hands-on work identifying rare plants and working on the collection of more than one million preserved plant specimens in the Australian National Herbarium. This scientific knowledge was then put to use by the Harden Murrumburrah Landcare Group as part of their Natural Heritage Trust Bushcare project.

"Greening the Grain Belt, funded by Natural Heritage Trust's Bushcare program ($62,000), is contributing to the revegetation of the area, believed to have only 2.8 per cent of its original vegetation remaining," Sharman Stone said.

"The Interns responded to a request from a Landcare group who wished to revegetate with local indigenous species, but not enough remnants remained for them to do the job."

"As part of their practical training, the interns reconstructed what the Harden area flora may have been like prior to European settlement. Their assistance helped the local Landcare group more effectively plan their revegetation works, enabling them to strategically plant hardy local species and target fencing and salinity management works in badly degraded areas."

"We've enhanced the student scientists academic and scientific training with practical work experience with farmers and other experienced land managers. It's been a vital exchange of information, with the students, the Landcare Group and the environment benefiting significantly."

"My congratulations to all those involved in this dynamic partnership," Sharman Stone said.

Media Inquiries:
Nicole Johnston, Assistant Adviser, 02 6277 2016 or 0419 219 415

And a word from the Interns...

ANU Resource and Environmental Management student Nicky Bruce says that the Internship program will increase her taxonomic skills and help her to meet people in the industry.

"I would like to eventually work in a research area, preferably with native grasses, revegetation and agriculture. The Internship has helped me enormously."

Alison Skinner, from Wagga Wagga, is studying at the Australian National University in Canberra says the Internship Program has given her an insight into working in the science field:

"Most valuable has been our involvement with the fantastic staff at the Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research and researchers who are leaders in their field - they have given us an insight into what the work is really like."

Sue Fletcher, from Wollongong, is studying a Master of Forestry degree at the Australian National University in Canberra and entered the Program to get practical experience with the identification of major Australian plant groups:

"The experience gained in working in many of the Herbarium's activities... has greatly enhanced my confidence in applying the theory I have learned in my course."

Purdey Wong, from Bardwell Park in Sydney, is studying at the University of Sydney and hopes the Internship Program will give her an edge over other applicants in the environmental science field.

Monica Ruibal, from Bossley Park in Sydney, is studying a Bachelor of Science degree at the Australian National University in Canberra and is hoping to go on to further study.

(The Internship Program has been useful) "as I have picked up new skills (including) the ability to identify (plant) species, which will be of a great advantage."

Matt Rizzuto, from Armidale, is studying at the University of New England, found out about the Program from one of his lecturers:

"I thought this would be a great way to see what happens within a scientifically based government organisation and a good start towards getting a foot in the door for this kind of work."

Emma Lewin, from Cobargo, is studying at the Australian National University in Canberra and is interested in working in a range of fields, including botany, ecology and zoology.

"The Internship Program gives experience in areas which will assist in gaining employment in related areas. It is an important outside of university experience in the scientific field."

Anarkali Papalkar, from Thornton in the Hunter Valley, required practical work experience as part of her course at the University of Newcastle.

"The Internship Program has given me experience in herbarium curation and a number of skills that are directly transferable to other fields of scientific work, ie research and databasing, interview application... and most importantly has created future contacts."

Commonwealth of Australia