In a few months, botanists planning to attend botanical training courses in 2016 will be keeping a particularly keen eye on the BSBI Training page. This is because our training grants are released early in January each year.
Applicants have to contact our Training Committee with details of the course, why they want to attend and how the course will help them. Then the committee puts all the applications through a rigorous selection process to help them decide where a grant should be awarded.
We have invited this year's grant recipients along to the BSBI Annual Exhibition Meeting next month to offer exhibits about the course they attended, what they learned and how the grant has helped them progress in botany. We also invited the recipients to offer a guest blogpost for News & Views, and here Zoe tells us about the course she attended this year - the images on this page are also hers:
"I was very appreciative and grateful to learn that I was selected as a recipient for the BSBI training grant. I really enjoyed the Identifying Difficult Plant course at Preston Montford Field StudiesCentre. The course has supported my aspiration of working in the conservation sector and has boosted my botany identification skills.
"Having graduated from a BSc in Countryside and Environmental Management at Harper Adams University, I was eager to develop more identification skills with aspirations of working in consultancy. As part of the Identifying Difficult Plants course, I studied grasses, sedges, ferns and horsetails. The course made me more aware of difficult plant taxa, their importance in biological recording and transferring this knowledge.
"The course was run by Sarah Whild and Mark Duffell involving classroom sessions and practical field trips including a visit to a local canal. My favourite part of the course was being out on site using guides such as Stace and Poland. Having had little experience in using flora identification keys, I feel more confident of their use and terminology.
"After completing the course, I was eager to use these skills. I have been completing volunteer surveys in my local area. One of the sites I like to visit is Silverdale Country Park, Staffordshire run by Groundwork West Midlands. The Park holds cultural and environmental value as a former mining area on the outskirts of Stoke on Trent. Several axiophytes have been recorded here.
"I’ve also had the chance to take part in the National Plant Monitoring Scheme, this has been very enjoyable and I have built upon my use of vegetation keys in the process. I especially liked the option to survey at different levels: wildflower, indicator and inventory. It is exciting to know that the input of volunteers like me will help us to understand changes in our environment".
Thanks Zoe, we're delighted that the grant proved so helpful and that you are now taking part in the NPMS. Here's the link if you would like to book for this year's Annual Exhibition Meeting and find out more about BSBI training grants and the botanists who benefit from them.