Ngee Ann Poly students can branch out thanks to expansion of Student Run Park initiative

ITE student Jasper Chan taking a picture to check the condition of the tree during the Student Run Park initiative at Bedok Town Park, on Nov 12, 2019. ST PHOTO: GIN TAY
(From left) Nah Yi Xian, Jonah Tan Tee Yong and Sandy Phua working at the Compositing and Vermiculture Zone during the Student Run Park initiative at Bedok Town Park. ST PHOTO: GIN TAY

SINGAPORE - With a new branch of learning on offer, student Jasper Chan did not need much convincing to go out on a limb at Bedok Town Park recently.

Mr Chan, 20, put his books aside to climb a tree in the park to check the condition of one of its branches.

His high-rise efforts were undertaken as part of a pilot scheme called Student Run Park - a collaboration between the National Parks Board (NParks) and the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) that started in July.

The initiative involved second-year students from ITE's Landscape Management and Design course managing around half of the park's 12 hectares.

Around 40 students tried their hands at park management under the guidance of NParks.

Its success prompted NParks to announce on Tuesday (Nov 12) that the initiative will be expanded to Clementi Woods Park next year under a collaboration with Ngee Ann Polytechnic (NP).

The ITE students have certainly put their stamp on Bedok Town Park.

They designed a garden with therapeutic features, deployed robotic mowers for turf management, used a telescopic camera and drones for tree inspection and even built a composting area to transform waste material into fertiliser.

Mr Chan said: "These practical skills allow for me to acclimatise into the work place. I am able to use the techniques learnt in my tree-climbing modules and apply them here as well."

The ITE students gave Mr Desmond Lee, Minister of Social and Family Development and Second Minister for National Development, a tour of the park on Tuesday, pointing out their work and outlining the land management skills they have picked up.

Minister of Social and Family Development Desmond Lee with students and staff of ITE College East at Bedok Town Park. ST PHOTO: GIN TAY

More landscape students will stand to benefit with the expansion of the initiative. The collaboration with NP will involve around 120 students in the Landscape Design and Horticulture course, leveraging on the existing Greenhub facility at Clementi Woods Park.

The Greenhub provides an air-conditioned space within the park where students can apply their skills on dedicated plots next to the facility.

The initiative will expand to include the entire park, allowing students to work with volunteers and the community, and even receive feedback from the public on what they want in the park.

"As part of this programme, we see the students pick up skills that can lead to certification that will enable them to do the job better," Mr Lee said during the tour.

"From next year, we will expand this pilot programme as the students have given very good feedback."

Industry experts from the Landscape Industry Association (Singapore) will also be brought in to train and mentor the ITE and NP students next year.

"This has definitely made me more interested in arboriculture (tree care) and I hope to get my tree-climbing certifications soon," Mr Chan added.

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