The Friends' 25th Anniversary Scholarships

In 2007, to celebrate our 25th Anniversary, the Friends announced the establishment of an annual scholarship to the value of $10,000 to be awarded to a member or members of the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria staff.

In 2019 the scholarship amount was increased to $15,000 per year to provide greater financial resources for professional development. Additionally, due to a bequest by Robin Sharwood in 2015, a $2,000 Travel Bursary is now also available to RBGV staff who will be travelling as part of their professional development.

2022/2023 Friends' Scholarships

A total of $16,500 was granted in 2023 towards the following recipients and their field of study:

  • Christopher Jakobi, Aboriginal Learning Facilitator, Melbourne: USA First Nations Research experience, $5,000.
  • Sylvain Plummet, Acting Visitor Centre Supervisor, Melbourne: the Australian Institute of Management New Leader Program, $2,000.
  • Kasia Gabrys, Advisor Governance and Projects, Melbourne: Best Practice Environmental Social Governance research and benchmarking in Australian Gardens, $4,500.
  • Nicole Ebert, Team Leader Visitor Access and Tourism, Cranbourne: Certificate IV Training and Assessment, $5,000.

Past Winners of the Friends' Scholarships


Whilst the biennially awarded $2,000 Sharwood Travel Bursary was not granted in 2022, the Trust provided $13,521 in scholarship funding to the following recipients:

  • Renee Wierzbicki, Horticulturalist, Curator of the Herb and Medicinal Collection at the Melbourne Gardens, was granted funds to undertake a History of Healing course at Endeavour College of Natural Health.
  • Carolyn Shurey, Learning Facilitator, received funding for a six-month training course in the field of Forest Therapy, a practice that promotes healing and wellness in natural environments.
  • Claire Mosley, Learning Facilitator, received funding to attend the National Australian Association for Bush Adventure Therapy Symposium.
  • Menaka Collure, Finance Officer, received funding for a Digital Finance microcredentialed course from CPA.


  • Alison Vaughan, Digital Collections Advisor, Science, National Herbarium of Victoria, for an Exhibition Design and Delivery course.
  • Kimberley Colman, Learning Facilitator (Early Childhood Programs), Melbourne Gardens, for the course Applying Project Management Tools in Learning Projects.
  • Misha Davine, Horticulturist Curator (Fern Gully), Melbourne Gardens, for Fern Collecting in Lord Howe and Norfolk Islands.
  • Sally Fierenzi, Learning Facilitator, Cranbourne Gardens, for Graduate Certificate of STEM Education. Operations Committee 


  • Carry Lee, Visitor Experience Officer, to undertake an Ecotour Management Training Course
  • Daniel Ohlsen, Flora Botanist, to visit Malesian herbaria to enable a revision of the fern family Aspleniaceae in Malesia
  • Peter Symes, Curator, Horticulture, to explore the Melbourne Gardens landscape succession through climate change via engagement with European Botanic Gardens.


  • Bret Pritchard; Horticulturist Melbourne Gardens, RBGV
    Scholarship amount – $6,333
    Project: Tour of arid gardens and natural environments throughout California and Arizona, USA
  • Kate Roud; Horticulturist Melbourne Gardens, RBGV
    Scholarship Amount – $3,302
    Project: Safeguarding the New Zealand Collection at RBGV Melbourne Gardens
  • Kimberley Colman; Learning Facilitator Early Childhood Programs Engagement and Impact, RBGV
    Scholarship Amount – $365
    Project: Therapeutic Garden and Horticulture Therapy Workshop


  • Peter Berbee; Arborist, Curator Quercus collection, Melbourne Gardens, RBGV
    Scholarship amount – $4,277
    Project:  To attend the 9th International Oak Society Conference 2018, California USA
  • Katherine Kominiarski; Visitor Experience Officer, Engagement and Impact, Melbourne Gardens, RBGV
    Scholarship Amount – $630. 
    Project:  To undertake a six-week Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Training TAFE course. Scholarship report – Botanic News Summer 2018/19 p 20-21 
  • David Robbins; Team Leader Nursery, Melbourne Gardens, RBGV
    Scholarship Amount – $2,400
    Project:  A Record keeping Diploma. Scholarship report – Botanic News – Autumn 2019 p 19
  • Mandy Thomson; Team Leader Nursery, Cranbourne Gardens, RBGV
    Scholarship Amount – $2,205. 
    Project:  To attend the Australian Plant Society’s Bi-Annual National Conference, Hobart. Scholarship report – Botanic News – Summer 2018/19 p 22-23 


  • Niels Klazenga; Programmer Information Technology, Biodiversity Information Officer, Melbourne Gardens, Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria
    Scholarship amount – $6,434
    Project:  Funding for trip to TDWG (Taxonomic Databases Working Group) Conference 2016, Santa Clara de San Carlos, Costa Rica, 5-9 December 2016
    Scholarship Report (Botanic News – Spring 2017 p 22-23)
  • Philip Bowyer-Smyth; Horticultural Technician, Melbourne Gardens, Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria
    Scholarship Amount – $3,566 Scholarship Report (Botanic News Autumn 2018 p 20-21)
    Project:  16-week course of Diploma of Project Management at Holmesglen Institute


  • Catherine Gallagher; Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne $5,400
    Co-ordinator, Curation 
    Project:  Travel to Berlin to research MEL’s foreign collection and attend the 31st Annual Meeting of the Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections (Report – Botanic News Winter 2017 p 23)
  • Charlie Firth; Royal Botanic Gardens Cranbourne       $2,000
    Co-ordinator, Horticulture
    Project:  Training package: Increasing arboricultural skills and capacity (Report – Botanic News Summer 2016-7 p16-17)
  • Kate Roud; Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne         $4,500
    Curator for the New Zealand Collection and Horticultural Technician
    Project:  Study Tour to New Zealand (Report – Botanic News Autumn 2017 p21-23)


  •  Leanne Adams; RBG Cranbourne for her project – 
    Certificate IV in Accounting, Chisholm Institute
  • Kylie Regester; RBG Melbourne for her project –
    Attend and present at 9th BGCI Congress on Education in Botanic Gardens (report Botanic News Spring 2015 p18-19)
  • Russell Gibb; RBG Cranbourne for his project –
    Diploma of Project Management and Certificate IV in Training and Assessment


  •  Liz James; Plant Sciences & Biodiversity Division, for her project – 
    Torrent Ion sequencing training (Report – Botanic News Autumn 2015 p 18-19)
  • Brett Pritchard; Melbourne Gardens Division for his project – 
    Network building to aid redevelopment of succulent and  cacti collection. 
    (Report – Botanic News Winter 2015 p 18-19)
  • Ahmed Ashraf & David Tyler; Royal Botanic Gardens Cranbourne for their project – Kings Park Study Trip to learn about irrigation and develop a WA plant acquisition strategy. (Report – Botanic News Summer 2014-15 p 18-19)


  •  Catherine Gallagher; Plant Sciences & Biodiversity Division, for her project – Botanical Nomenclature Course RBG Kew (Report – Botanic News Summer 2013-14 p 18-19)
  • Millie Wee; Melbourne Gardens Division, for her project – Study Tour of Queensland Botanic Gardens: RBG Palm & Bamboo Collection Development   (Report – Botanic News Winter 2014 p 18-19)
  • Dr Pina Milne; Plant Sciences & Biodiversity Division, for her project – Bryophyte and Lichen Workshop in New Zealand (Report – Botanic News Spring 2013 p 18-19)