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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


Three of Victoria's 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 Victorian 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...

Megan Hewett of Hampton, Victoria, applied for the course to gain some relevant work experience. She is currently studying at Deakin University, towards a Bachelor of Applied Science in Environmental Management.

"The Internship will help me in the future and has given me lots of plant identification practice."

Helen Rommelaar of Nunawading, Victoria, came to the course to improve her employment prospects, improve her knowledge of botany and plant identification and for life experience. Helen is studying a Diploma of Applied Science in Horticulture at the University of Melbourne.

"I feel we have become more marketable/employable individuals through the intense training we have received in may fields. Great experience!"

Commonwealth of Australia