Friday, 23 February 2018

Byron's Gin supporting BSBI's Training programme

Sarah Whild with copies of the
BSBI Code of Conduct and two
bottles of Byron's Gin
Image: L. Marsh
To Shrewsbury earlier this month for the spring meeting of BSBI's Training & Education Committee and one of the items on the agenda was Byron's Gin.

Now before you get the wrong idea, I should point out that this was not an excuse for committee members to get scandalously drunk and neglect their responsibilities. 

The committee (T&E to its friends) takes the job of supporting the training of our next generation of botanists very seriously. 

That's why everyone was delighted when BSBI entered into an agreement with Speyside Distillery, whereby a contribution from the sale of every bottle of Byron's Gin would come to T&E to help support and train our botanists.

So it seemed only fitting that committee members should get a good look at bottles of Byron's Gin, which features the BSBI logo on every bottle, before we got to grips with the agenda.


Luronium natans: a Schedule 8 plant
listed in the BSBI Code of Conduct
Image: S. Whild
First up was a quick review of the most popular downloads from the BSBI website and T&E members were delighted to hear about the success of two leaflets for which they were responsible.

'So You Want to Know Your Plants' is still the most popular BSBI leaflet by far, with over 5,000 downloads in the past 18 months and hard copies available for people to take away from outreach events such as the BSBI Exhibition Meeting, but the new BSBI Code of Conduct, published last November, has already been downloaded 1,443 times. 

On to training courses and we heard a report from Brenda Harold who runs Identiplant, the incredibly successful distance learning course for budding botanists. 

Applications for Identiplant had opened as usual on 1st December 2017 and Brenda reported that the course was fully booked by 3rd January, with students signing up across Britain and Ireland. 

Grass ID Workshop led by Nick Law (FCPR) for
the National Plant Monitoring Scheme
Image courtesy of FCPR
A brief discussion followed with committee members suggesting potential new tutors for the course, or commenting on how many students have come to Identiplant via the National Plant Monitoring Scheme in which BSBI is a partner, and Brenda was congratulated on her ongoing success. 

We moved on to talk about FISCs, the industry standard qualification in botany which is the brainchild of two longstanding T&E members, Sarah Whild and Sue Townsend


Paul Ashton, Head of Biology at
Univ. Edge Hill and Chair of T&E,
samples Byron's Gin. Mark Duffell, botany
tutor and member of BSBI Council, is
on hand with tonic and a lemon!
Image: L. Marsh 
The ensuing discussion covered many 'behind the scenes' issues, from collection of specimens to be identified during the lab test, to draft protocols, to pricing structures, to logos of sponsors such as CIEEM. 

Next up we had reports on the various training grants and plant study grants administered by T&E and on the FSC's Young Darwin Scholarships; we discussed a Big Idea which has to remain under wraps for now (sorry!); and we closed with plans for the next Recorders' Conference - keep an eye on this page for updates.

By this stage we were ready for a wee taste of Byron's Gin before we headed home, all tasked with various action points to be completed before the committee meets again in the autumn. 

Check out the BSBI Training page to find out more about T&E and head over here to find out about Byron's Gin!