In Photos: VIU Horticulture program helps grow connections with Belize

VIU Horticulture students in front of plants inside greenhouse

VIU horticulture students and Norman Budna, an instructor and Horticulture Lead for ITVET Toledo (centre) show off freshly-planted poinsettias at the VIU's G.R. Paine Horticultural Centre in Nanaimo.

Photos: Vancouver Island University

August 22, 2022 - 1:15pm

Belizean partners come to Nanaimo to work on curriculum together

Vancouver Island University (VIU) is helping Belizean institutions develop programs that teach students in agriculture and agroforestry programs how to mitigate and adapt to climate change.

The university is leading an $825,000 institutional partnership under the Skills to Access the Green Economy (SAGE) program, which is implemented by Colleges and Institutes Canada and funded by Global Affairs Canada. The SAGE program supports training programs in key economic sectors associated with climate change in the Caribbean. VIU, along with Canadian partners Parkland College and the Marine Institute of Memorial University, is helping the University of Belize (UB) and the Institute of Technical Vocational Education and Training (ITVET) at Stann Creek and Toledo to deliver skills training programs that meet economic and environmental needs in the region.

First announced in 2019, the partnership has already developed a new Associates Degree in Climate Smart Agriculture with the University of Belize and an Agro-processing course at ITVET Stann Creek. Norman Budna, an instructor and Horticulture Lead for ITVET Toledo, is currently in Nanaimo working with VIU’s Global Engagement and Horticulture teams to develop a new preparatory program for the Belizean institution.

Budna's visit includes hands-on time at the G.R. Paine Horticultural Centre, where VIU Horticulture students receive training. Budna is watching instructors teach students how to grow poinsettias, amongst other things.

norman budna

“It has been so exciting being here,” said Budna. “I’ve been working closely with the instructors and learning things that I can take back to Belize and share with our instructors and school.”

Currently, the horticulture program at the school in Belize focuses more on vegetable production; however, the hope is to expand the program to include ornamentals as well to increase the job prospects of graduates.

“We haven’t had a greenhouse, so we’ve been doing outdoor cultivation, but we have received new equipment through the partnership with VIU to actually build a greenhouse,” he said. “My classes start on September 5 with a new set of students, so it’s a quick turnaround but they’re excited and I believe we’re ready for the new school year.”

norman buena

For Christine Quist, a VIU Horticulture Instructor, “the idea of working with an international partner was very appealing – just having that experience from other countries and working with new colleagues on similar things but in very different parts of the world.”

VIU’s partnership in Belize builds on years of engagement by VIU faculty and staff in the country, according to Darrell Harvey, VIU’s Manager of Global Engagement. 

“These sort of international cooperation projects are one of the most meaningful ways we can engage in international partnerships, where the learning and growth for all institutions is reciprocal,” he said.

norman budna

According to Budna, a partnership like this with VIU is about building capacity, and he’s excited about what it can help accomplish. 

“I’m looking forward to building our relationship even more with VIU.”

norman buena

norman budna



Eric Zimmer, Communications Officer, Vancouver Island University

P: 250.618.7296 | E: | T: @VIUNews

Tags: G.R. Paine Horticultural Training Centre | Horticulture | Teaching and Learning

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