Friday 19 May 2017

Review of a "brilliant training course" on Grass ID

Rowan (on left) and fellow students
FSC Juniper Hall
Image: P. O'Brien
BSBI member Rowan emailed me recently enthusing about an excellent ID course she had just attended, so I suggested that her report could be shared here. So, over to Rowan:  

"I have just been on the most brilliant FSC short course run by Judith Allinson at Juniper Hall, Surrey, over the Bank Holiday weekend on ‘The Vegetative Identification of Grasses’.

"This was an extraordinarily good training weekend...

"Judith Allinson was remarkable for her ability to bring the topic alive using a wide variety of techniques (from teaching each other to songs, poetry and hand-made demountable models of grass features) to ensure everyone grasped the detail.

Judith surrounded by her students
Image courtesy of R. Roenisch
"We all collected specimens to press of some 38 non-flowering grasses from several distinctive habitats and Judith brought in one or two further samples to supplement what we were able to see on the various excursions. 

"These were mounted under clear plastic in specially provided pocket-sized books with space to write up key identification features. 

"We entered the specimens according to the character of the emerging shoot and ultimate size of the grass and the books are now our easy-to-access, indexed ‘field guides’ with room to include other species yet to be encountered.

"Judith also provided detailed charts of grass features to take home and generally had put in an extraordinary amount of thought (not to say extremely hard work) to making the varied presentations and activities educational, entertaining and memorable.

Anne & Mike getting to grips with grass ID
FSC Juniper Hall
Image: P. O'Brien
"I have been on several courses with FSC, various Wildlife Trusts and the BSBI locally and nationally and I have to say that this was truly remarkable for the clarity of presentation, the accessibility of the material and the systems devised (including earlier work with Richard Pankhurst) to enable students to actually identify the different species not only during the weekend but during future forays and surveys that we might undertake.

"Despite the long hours of application each day (9am -10pm) I, and I know the other twelve students, found the whole experience not only profitable, but riveting and extremely enjoyable. Highly recommended!"

Thanks Rowan! If any News & Views readers have attended a particularly good ID course recently - or if you were disappointed in a course - why not send me your review and we can share it here for the benefit of fellow botanists.

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