A class of graduates celebrated completion of the Parks Department’s Skills Development Programme yesterday.
Ten men and a woman took the five-month course, which is aimed at young people interested in horticulture and landscaping as a career.
Held twice a year, the five-month programme is headed by Roger Parris and sponsored primarily by the Bermuda Garden Club.
Participants get help finding work with local employers after finishing their training.
Melody Parris, wife of Mr Parris, said: “This programme was formulated in order to provide an environment for young men and women to learn and hone their skills in landscaping and horticulture.”
She added: “We are extremely elated that they have conquered any difficulties and obstacles that arose to attain this achievement.”
Graduates told how the programme does more than just offer horticultural and landscape training.
Shalae Johnston said: “I was also able to grow from it and show my artistic side.”
The 25-year-old, of Hamilton Parish, was also the first recipient of the Malcolm K. Outerbridge award for outstanding community service.
She was recognised for her volunteer work in the Relay for Life, the Festival of Lights, and the cleanup of Coney Island in St George’s.
Ms Johnston said: “The programme is a real journey and it’s changed my outlook on life.”
The young woman’s artistic talents were recognised early by her teachers, whom she described as “very supportive of my art and music”.
With the help of the Skills Development Programme, Ms Johnson was able to have pieces of her artwork shown in the Masterworks Museum of Bermuda Art gallery, write a rap song promoting the programme, and even design the logo for the SDP.
She said: “What I want to do next is get a full-time job and also expand my career in the arts.
“I want to get an album out, get in more galleries, and design more clothes.”
Leric Lightbourn, 19, received the Outstanding Achievement award for his exceptional performance throughout the course.
Mr Lightbourn, from Warwick, explained: “I just paid attention, didn’t fool around on the side, and if something needed to be done, I’ll always be the one to do it.”
He will travel to Bournemouth, England, in October to attend a training course sponsored by the Bermuda Garden Club and said: “I am working to be a tree surgeon, I’ve figured out my passion.”
Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch, the Minister of Public Works, attended the graduation at the Arboretum.
He said: “The programme is an outstanding success and serves as an example for us in order to be able to encourage other young people to reach their full potential.”
This year’s graduates also included Charles Ebbin, Matthew Gilbert, Kacy Greene, Gladwyn Johnson, Ricardo Tucker and Troy Watson.
Special recognition of participation went to Eric O’Connor, Oliver Kennedy and Christopher Trott.