On 11 July, a team of eight young interns launched their design for a new Memorial Garden, to be built at Edgar’s Mission Sanctuary in Lancefield. The Memorial Garden will be a place of quiet reflection that pays tribute to animal residents who have passed away and honours the bond between them and their sanctuary carers. More than 50 people came for an exclusive look at the completed design before construction of the garden commences in Spring.
The interns are all participants in Youth Take Over, which offers group-based work experience for young people living in the Loddon Campaspe region. It aims to help young people become work-ready and find employment opportunities with a new project to showcase their skills.
“We always try to tailor our work experience projects to both industry need and the interests of young people in our region,” says Ryan Hale, Project Director at Youth Take Over. “We’d heard from a lot of young people that they wanted to work with animals, so we set about designing a work experience that met that particular interest.”
Youth Take Over approached Edgar's Mission, a not-for-profit farmed animal sanctuary, to see if they had a project that would suit the Youth Take Over program. It turned out that a memorial garden had been a long-held dream of the team at Edgar’s Mission, and it was agreed that this was the perfect opportunity to make that dream a reality.
Youth Take Over recruited a team of eight young interns, aged 16-22, who met weekly for eight weeks to work on the design. Guided by Landscape Architects from Pollen Studio, the interns learnt about all aspects of landscape architecture – from plant selection and costing to considerations around light, drainage and maintenance – and applied these learnings to their design. They also learnt some crucial work-readiness skills, such as communication, time management, project management and collaboration.
“One of things the Pollen team wanted to try and achieve through this Take Over is really successful group work, where everybody feels like their ideas have been taken on and understood and there’s a shared sense of ownership,” explains Pollen Studio Director, Flynn Hart.
“So, we developed a facilitation process where the young designers could bring all of their ideas together and make one single plan that is really cohesive. Which they did so successfully that Edgar’s Mission basically gave us a 10 out of 10 for our first try!”
Speaking at the launch event, the interns also reflected on the strong team bond that developed between them, and their Youth Take Over experience. “It was a very collaborative process…all of us were bouncing off each other a lot,” said intern, Bella Dredge.
“I didn't expect to gain as much as I have during this Take Over,” said another intern, Thaiesha Foti. “I'm so thankful for the people I have met, and the conversations I have gotten to enjoy. I don’t think there are many other opportunities like this. If Youth Take Over didn’t exist I don’t think I ever would have had the chance to do something like this.”
The project was supported by a number of local businesses, including Kupper’s Contracting, The Straw Brothers and Mt William Advanced Tree Nursery, who have assisted with materials, labour and mentoring. Woodend Rotary also supported the project, with volunteers offering mentoring at each of the sessions. One of them, Careers Coach Jon Hazelton, ran two career sessions with the interns, where they explored possible career paths, identified their strengths and learnt how to talk about these in a job application.
While the Take Over has come to an end, the team of interns plan to reunite in October to help with the first stage of the garden construction, assisted by the Pollen team and Edgar’s Mission volunteers.
“We are so grateful for all the hard work and the great level of detail that has gone into the Memorial Garden design,” said Bianca Romero, Sanctuary Experience Officer at Edgar’s Mission. “It is very exciting to see this project in motion and it is all thanks to [the Pollen team] along with the incredible interns.”
Every young person benefits from work experience. If you know a young person who is 25 or under and ready for the 'next step' on their career adventure, head to youthtakeover.org.au to learn more.
Youth Take Over is an initiative of North Central LLEN in partnership with the Loddon Campaspe LLENs and sponsored by the Agnico Eagle Community Partnership Program.