Monday 24 November 2014

BSBI Exhibition Meeting 2014: volunteer members show what they can do!

John Poland's Plant ID Quiz
182 botanists from across Britain and Ireland came together on Saturday for the BSBI Annual Exhibition Meeting, held this year at the University of Leicester. This makes it our best-attended provincial AEM since records began: we didn't quite beat last year's attendance figure of 192 at the Natural History Museum, in London!

Feedback so far suggests that all the hard work from BSBI's Meetings & Communications Committee and the VC55 volunteers paid off, and a great botanical day was had by all. 

The Lecture Room was full to capacity for talks!
The theme for this year's AEM was BSBI new projects and publications, and the lecture room was packed for our keynote speaker Prof Clive Stace (Emeritus Professor of Plant Taxonomy at University of Leicester). 

His talk 'Hybrids 40 years on' really whetted our collective appetite for his forthcoming Hybrids book, scheduled for publication next spring. BSBI staff offered updates on projects like the England Red List and Atlas 2020, Oli Pescott got us all raring to go on the new National Plant Monitoring Scheme and lots of you liked the three-handed presentation on Euphrasia by Chris Metherell, Fred Rumsey (NHM) and Research Fellow Alex Twyford. 

Clive Stace (right) &
Mike Wilcox (VC63)
We hope to make all these presentations available on our website soon, along with any of the 31 exhibits that can be uploaded. 

But going through our feedback forms, one complaint keeps recurring. Under "what could we do better next time?" fourteen people complained that there just wasn't enough time to do everything. 

They had to chose between attending talks, browsing the exhibits, catching up with old friends and chatting to fellow botanists, joining herbarium tours or participating in the Euphrasia workshop. 

To which I can only reply that we were adhering to the old showbiz adage - always leave your audience wanting more of you, not less! If too much choice was the worst aspect of the day, then I think we have done our job!

Arthur, Chris & Ian: catching up over a Euphrasia or three!
Our herbarium guided mini-tours were heavily over-subscribed, even after several regional members graciously stood aside for those who had come from farther afield. 

Diane and Rowan (two of the VC55 Herbarium Volunteers) turned down the opportunity to hear the presentations, in order to show specimens collected by local collectors and former curators such as Tom TutinTony Primavesi and Clive Stace, and current curator Richard Gornall, to 36 visiting botanists. 

They talked people through what goes on in a herbarium and how you can get involved, by volunteering in your local herbarium or via Herbaria@Home. 

Diane (on right) leading a herbarium tour
Five more VC55 volunteers (Uta, Geoffrey, Pouran, Russell and Ian) spent the day making sure that all our guests were well looked after, and Ian and Jon from Meetings & Communications Committee chaired the sessions beautifully. 

Many thanks to all of them for their hard work, and to all of you who contributed to this year's AEM and made it such a success. 

Keep an eye open here for those uploaded presentations and confirmation of the date of next year's AEM, when we are back at the Natural History Museum.


  1. Fab event Louise. A huge THANK YOU to you and the wonderful VC55 Volunteers.

  2. I had the best time Louise, well done and all your and your team's hard work was very much appreciated. especially by Grace Kelly. Lx

  3. Thanks Sue and Lin, great to see you both and your exhibits - I hope you will send them through and we can share them here? And I agree the herbarium volunteers are amazing, so proud to work alongside such lovely botanists!


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