Monday, 11 January 2016

BSBI Training Grant helps a seventh botanist

If you're still debating whether or not to apply for one of this year's BSBI Training Grants, here is the seventh case study of how a grant helped a budding botanist get started with plant identification in 2015. Over to Debbie to tell us her story:

Debbie in the field.
Image courtesy of D. Wright
"Last year I was lucky enough to be awarded a BSBI Training Grant to attend a basic plant identification course. The course was run by the Ashmolean Natural History Society of Oxfordshire and focused on learning to use The New Flora of the British Isles by Clive Stace to key out plants. It took place over a 6 month period, with a morning session held once a month at the John Krebbs Field Station. There was also an optional field trip to Wytham Woods, which happened to be on a day filled with glorious sunshine!

"The course started with the basics, such as the parts and functions of a plant. We then moved on to looking at the main different families of flowering plants each session. The tutors would talk about the distinguishing features of the family and relevant terminology, then we would key out one or more example plants from the family and finally, we would try to key out some more plants on our own. The tutors always brought in a range of relevant reference books and advised us on what to refer to, as well as telling us about local and national plant societies and activities we could get involved in.

Debbie in the field II
Image courtesy of D. Wright
"I learnt a great deal from the course. Beforehand, I had very limited knowledge of plants, having never studied them in depth. The material was always made very accessible, and although the emphasis was on keying out using Stace, we also used other keys, such as The Vegetative Key ofthe British Flora by Poland and Clement. The tutors were always extremely friendly and approachable and I felt like I could ask anything without feeling stupid!

"The BSBI Training grant gave me the opportunity to start learning about plants. I became interested in a particular family, the Brassicaceae, which I then went on to study further. The course gave me the initial knowledge I needed, and the confidence to simply go out and explore! I would recommend both the course and the grant to others, particularly if they are initially struggling with using keys".

Thanks Debbie! Read about what some other budding botanists used their Training Grants for herehere, here, here, here and here. And then why not head over to the Training page here. Scroll down column one for short botany courses and the on-line Identiplant course, or scroll down column two to download an application form.