Elizabeth Marshall enrolled in one of Chisholm’s horticulture classes at the age of 70. She enjoyed the course immensely and would highly recommend it to others.

As a mature-age student, Elizabeth Marshall loved the learning experience at Chisholm.

At the age of 70, she enrolled in Chisholm’s Certificate III in Horticulture.

Elizabeth had previously worked as an adult education English teacher but had to make a career change when COVID affected international arrivals.

When the lockdowns began, Elizabeth moved to Blairgowrie on the Mornington Peninsula and applied for the TAFE course in horticulture.

Elizabeth already had an interest in gardening – she has her own vegetable garden, compost and greenhouse, and is a member of a community garden.

“I found the course really good, especially the side of it where it was more about the requirements of work in parks and gardens,” says Elizabeth. “Also, things like pests and weed management and those sorts of units were interesting – I had touched on them but hadn’t gone into detail.”

When COVID lockdowns meant everything had to be done online, Elizabeth had to navigate unfamiliar territory on the computer, learning how to do things like classes via Zoom.

However, with the support of her teacher and peers, she worked through the hurdles and came out the other end stronger.

She was even nominated as Vocational Student of the Year at the 2022 Chisholm Education Awards.

“My real problem was getting around the computer skills,” says Elizabeth. “We suddenly had to move on to doing it all online. The rest of the class was very helpful, but it was a challenge for me, especially when you’ve been teaching face-to-face.”

When COVID also affected the practical elements of the course, Elizabeth says her teacher excelled at adapting the units to suit.

“The teacher was very good at rewriting the curriculum for us to be able to do it at home,” she says. “Fortunately, I have a greenhouse, so I was able to do some of the practical elements here.”

Elizabeth’s advice to other people who were considering going to TAFE as a mature-aged student was not to let age hold you back.

“Going in as a mature-age student was a big learning experience,” she says. “I had been a mature-age student before when I finished my ESL teaching, but this was better because it was much more practical, and we were doing things together.”

Now that Elizabeth has finished her studies, her goal is to combine her English language teaching skills with horticulture in a course that covers both.

“I’m looking at the possibility of setting up a course that covers both in the Mornington Peninsula,” she says.

In the meantime, she is learning to play mahjong and doing tai chi, as well as gardening.