The Iziqalo Project:
Launching youth into careers in nature
BotSoc works to know, grow, protect and enjoy South Africa’s indigenous plants. But for BotSoc, ‘grow’ also takes on an additional meaning: the importance of growing young people in botanical careers.
That’s why BotSoc and the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) are working together in a new initiative, called the Iziqalo Project. “Iziqalo” means “beginnings” in isiXhosa – and this captures the project’s goal to launch youth who have not been able to access study or work opportunities, into careers linked to nature, in support of South Africa’s rich natural heritage.
We’re doing this through training and capacity development for youth workers – working with partners to provide these young people with work exposure in the areas of horticulture, conservation, landscape restoration, as well as general life skills.
As BotSoc, we’re only at the start of this journey with our youth. And there are now big plans in place to grow the Iziqalo Project, as we raise funds to continue developing and rolling it out. You can also get involved
Or contact us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or contact 021 797 2090 to chat to us about opportunities to support.
How does the project work?
The Iziqalo Project is piloting the initiative in the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden. Here we are working with 12 young people who were previously unemployed, but who were hired by SANBI to undertake horticultural and conservation at Kirstenbosch. In addition to their work in the garden, through the Iziqalo Project they are also being taken on a journey of growth and development.
That’s why the Iziqalo Project is:
- Providing training and capacity development to this team;
- Helping them to access opportunities for employment, entrepreneurship and education in nature-related sectors once the contract has ended;
- And is drawing the expertise of BotSoc members as speakers and trainers, building on SANBI’s biodiversity human capital development strategy.
While the project is being tested in the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden currently, we aim to roll it out across other National Botanical Gardens across South Africa. Aside from these 12 individuals at Kirstenbosch, an additional 31 young people have been employed at 8 other SANBI gardens, through the partnership with BotSoc. That’s where the focus will fall in the future.
Driven by volunteers: Our sincere thanks
We are grateful to all our partners and friends for helping to bring this important project to life, in particular to BotSoc member, Caroline Petersen, for being the driving force behind the project. We’re also grateful to our SANBI partners for their key support, Routes to Resilience for rolling out the life skills programme, the Kirstenbosch Branch of the Botanical Society for their help, and all others involved.
The three legs of the project:
We’ve partnered with non-profit organisation Routes to Resilience to offer our Kirstenbosch group a 6-month programme that builds the desire, knowledge and tools to make better, more informed and sustainable life and career choices and to support personal and community resilience building. We host weekly life skills sessions and exciting outings and events.
BotSoc staff and members and SANBI staff host monthly talks on matters related to botany, ecology, horticulture, landscaping, restoration, fynbos, threatened species, alien invasions, fire management and much more to the youth workers, and at times to other garden staff as well. We are also developing a bank of information and contacts about opportunities for work, study and internships, and we bring in speakers on these topics as well.
BotSoc is investigating the opportunity to pair participants with BotSoc members who will serve as mentors, to support them in their learning journey and next steps in terms of bursaries and applications for study, internships and work opportunities, or finding support for starting small businesses.
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