It is rewarding to see that the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) offers so many internship and studentship opportunities annually, board member Prof Brian van Wilgen told the audience at the Joan Wrench Kirstenbosch Scholarship Fund (JWKSF) farewell ceremony.

Van Wilgen said the opportunities were important within the context of South Africa’s rising unemployment rates and urgent need to develop science capacity.

SANBI’s JWKSF Fund ceremony was held on 9 March to welcome the second cohort of interns and postgraduate students that would benefit from the funding, as well as to say goodbye to the 2019 cohort of interns.

The 2019 interns joined SANBI in early April and were the first cohort to be funded by the JWKSF. Each successful intern was allocated a 12-month internship where candidates obtained valuable work experience, and were exposed to a wide variety of topics through informative sessions.

The event was held at the Kirstenbosch Old Mutual centre and was attended by appointed interns, students, their mentors, SANBI colleagues and student project collaborators from UCT, CPUT, UWC and WWF.

‘Learning journey’

The interns received certificates recognizing their efforts for the year and were congratulated for their accomplishments – some of them will be pursuing postgraduate studies in 2020 with support from the JWKSF.

2019/2020 JWKSF interns

This Scholarship Fund provides financial support to eligible students through postgraduate scholarships and internships for skills development in the fields of horticulture, nature conservation, education and science.

Through the Fund, graduates have the opportunity to gain work experience and young budding scientists gain access to higher education.

Interns are based at Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden and students are registered with regional tertiary institutions. Both the studentships and internships are funded through a bequest by the late Mrs Joan Kathleen Boteville Wrench to Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens.

The event also served to welcome the 2020 intake of Joan Wrench Scholarship candidates – marking the second year of the Estate-funded programme.

In welcoming the new interns and students SANBI Deputy Director for Biodiversity Education and Empowerment, Roleen Ellman, said that it was very exciting to share the beginning of a learning journey with interns and students.

“We hope to build on our existing collaborations and encourage the forging of new ones,” she said.

In her closing remarks Ellman wished the interns well in their internships at Kirstenbosch and the postgraduate students all the best with their research.

“To all of our interns; thank you for your contributions to SANBI!” she said.

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