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From Paris to planting Australian natives: Chloe’s story

This article appears in: Changing careers, Environmental Sciences, Vocational Education and Training
Horticulture student Chloe Roch at work in the nursery

Nature lover Chloe lives in Humpty Doo and juggles her job at a plant nursery, her young daughter, and her studies at CDU. It’s a world away from her hometown of Paris, but she wouldn’t have it any other way.

Chloe left high school before graduating and found herself halfway across the world working in Darwin’s hospitality scene when she wanted a change. Hospitality hours were no longer convenient for the single mum, but studying was a commitment that she wanted to be sure about.

“I always wanted to study nature, the environment and plants, so I was looking at conservation, horticulture, diplomas and certificates to weigh up my options.”

Chloe got in touch with the VET Environmental Studies team at CDU, whose passion for plants and plant care rubbed off on her. 

With that boost of encouragement (and a free online Tertiary Enabling Program to give her a helping hand), Chloe started her first certificate in horticulture at CDU.

Growing a career

Horticulture student Chloe Roch working at Territory Native Plants
Chloe and Territory Native Plants co-owner Travis Messner

Chloe found more than knowledge and skills during her studiesshe also found a dream job.

One of her course units on collecting native seeds was coordinated in partnership with Territory Native Plants. Chloe used her new industry connections to begin volunteering for them. She later became an employee. 

I learned everything I know about native plants from CDU. Before that, I only knew about European veggie gardens. Now I’m using what I learned at CDU at work.

Chloe also credits the flexibility of studying at CDU with her career success. 

“They adapt to you and can make the schedule lighter. Instead of studying for two years, I did it in three, but by doing so I was working in the field already.”

“It was also good to apply what I was studying to my work straight away," she adds.

A sustainable future

Chloe uses her new skills in plant care and pest management at the nursery in Berry Springs, as well as supporting revegetation projects around Darwin and Palmerston.

“It’s about sustainability and being environmentally-friendly, creating gardens and landscapes that are water-wise, adapted to our soils and provide habitat for native wildlife such as bees, butterflies and birds,” she says.

"Our society is facing climate change challenges and doing my part, at my level, at work and at home, is a very rewarding feeling."

With a bush block in Humpty Doo to call home, Chloe is now surrounded by the Australian plants she fell in love withand she wants to spread the word.  

I’d like to get out there and tell everyone how planting native gardens can have a real impact on helping the planet on its recovery.

Advice for new students

Chloe recommends knowing what makes you feel joy and then pursuing it. 

“I’d say that it’s hard when you’re young to know exactly what you want to do,” she says.

For me it wasn’t like studyingit was learning about something I’m passionate about.

Chloe says it’s all about finding what you like to do, what makes you feel joy, and then studying that. Your job can bring you joy every day.

"Having my daughter was also good motivation. I mostly wanted her to look up to Mum and see that I’m realising my dreams."

If you’d like to turn your passion into a day job, explore our courses and start building your new world.

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