A horticulturist from the NSW South Coast, Kate Grace is fast becoming a true trail-blazer in her industry.
Kate was already a successful business owner, with a Certificate III in Horticulture and studying Landscape design and Architecture, when she embarked on her BBM Global Industry Scholarship in 2014. The value she saw in this opportunity was not just for her own career but for her industry as a whole.
Horticulture in Australia has been struggling to recruit young talent for years and is facing a serious skill shortage. This is where Kate is making her impact.
Kate visited iconic gardens and gardening festivals in Asia, the UK and Europe, and while gathering invaluable new skills and knowledge, the true benefit of her extensive placements lay not in the gardens but in their creators.
Kate shaped BBM Global Industry Scholarship to be an intensive networking exercise, making contacts which she says have been incredibly valuable during her time over in the UK and back in Australia: “I am so fortunate to have met the people that I met. Some are lifelong friends, some have been invaluable in opening up their own world of networks to me. I am so thankful to BBM for opening up those connections for me on the world stage.”
During her BBM award journey she met BBM Ambassador Graham Ross at the Chelsea Flower Show in London: “A simple ‘Hello’ to someone and introducing yourself – even if it’s really hard – can change the course of your path. Had a new friend never pushed me to introduce myself to Graham Ross, that day at the Chelsea Flower show in 2014 – I believe I wouldn’t be where I am today. He has been a mentor ever since. He has pushed me, he has encouraged me, he has included me within the industry.”
With Graham’s encouragement, Kate used what she had learned overseas to set up a new industry peak body “Young Hort Australia”, which exists solely to attract passionate young talent to the industry she loves. Young Hort sets its sights on working with high schools to foster a lifelong love of gardening in young children, promoting the benefits of an active, outdoor lifestyle at the same time.
In 2019 Kate, now a Board Member of the Australian Gardening Council (AGC) as well as Young Hort Australia, celebrated a breakthrough victory for her industry, when the for the first time in Australia’s history the federal government made a grant to the gardening and horticulture industry. The $490,000 grant will go towards a campaign to promote gardening and horticulture careers to secondary school leavers.
Kate and fellow Young Hort Ambassadors, including BBM Industry Scholar Caitlin Sawyer, will work alongside the AGC to bring awareness of the joy a career in this industry can be: “We have lots of work to do, but we can’t wait to get moving on it!”
Promoting the opportunities of the BBM Global Industry Scholarships now forms part of Kate’s mission to futureproof Australia’s horticulture industry: “There has always been a strong underlying force, to share my knowledge gained from the scholarship experience; to use it to inspire, motivate and enthuse other people to achieve their goals whatever they may be. If you are reading this, you are doing so for a reason. You are doing so because you want to put yourself out there, you are ready to stand up and show others what you can do and being recognised for it. It is so fantastic! It is your talents that have brought you here.
Keep driving your talents and pushing them as far as they can go because the limits are unimaginable. I encourage you to be bold, make mistakes and be someone great. Share your skills and knowledge, because this scholarship is giving you the opportunity to do so.”
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