Revisiting Jack Kuhndt

Date posted: 19 December 2019

It’s been 11 months since we last spoke with horticulture trainee, Jack Kuhndt, and his time at Adelaide Botanic Garden is coming to an end. So, we invited him to set his tools down and tell us about his experience.

Jack started the Aboriginal School Based Trainee Programme, which is supported by Santos, 18 months ago. The programme is an opportunity for Aboriginal students to earn a Certificate II in Horticulture while still completing high school, providing hands on experiences in a real workplace.

Horticultural Supervisor and supervisor of the trainee programme, Cliff Sawtell, said, “The programme is about giving trainees an opportunity to come into a workplace and understand what is required; the commitment to turn up on time, undertake work and communicate within a work environment”.

Cliff noted that students coming from a school environment, some as young as 14, are effectively learning the responsibility of being employed.

“That’s probably the chief outcome, that personal development”, he said.

For Jack, it’s been the opportunity to work with people that he’s enjoyed the most.

“I’ve learnt a lot from everyone around here. It’s been very eye-opening. Everyone has been really supportive and helpful. I just have to ask and they help me straight away”.

Whilst admitting that the early starts have been a challenge, Jack said the programme has created more structure for him, helping him to fall into a productive daily routine.

“I wasn’t even getting up that early for school! But you have to be more committed to this. In fact it’s nothing like school. It’s more hands on and I’m more of a hands on person”.

“I wouldn’t have expected the traineeship to be this good. I’d never really been to Adelaide Botanic Garden, so it has been pretty amazing to come here. It’s been a really good experience”.

“I would definitely recommend the programme to others. Before I started this, I really didn’t know what I was going to be doing with my life but since I’ve started, I’ve loved it. It’s what I want to do for the rest of my life,” Jack said.

Cliff Sawtell is an advocate of the programme not just because of the opportunities it provides for the trainees but for the positive impact it has on the horticulture team at the Adelaide Botanic Garden.

“We really appreciate the trainees because they bring a new dynamic to the workplace. They help build that workplace culture,” said Cliff.

“It’s amazing how much the staff love the programme. It’s really quite important” he said.

Jack is enthusiastic about pursuing a Certificate III in Horticulture as a full-time Adelaide Botanic Garden Trainee, particularly because both his father and uncle have a horticulture background.

“My dad’s been very proud that I’m following in his footsteps. He’s been loving it and so has my uncle. They’re very proud”.

In closing, we asked Jack about his favourite part of the Adelaide Botanic Garden but he couldn’t decide.

“I love it all. I just love it… so it’ll be pretty sad when I have to leave,” he said.

The Aboriginal School Based Trainee Programme, made possible through our partnership with Santos, is part of the Botanic Gardens and State Herbarium’s commitment to lifelong learning and engagement. Many trainees use the program as a stepping-stone to further education and training.