Or I could take many photos and have AskMe ID them all.
January 18, 2010 3:52 PM   Subscribe

Where can I take a summer graduate course in field botany (or something similar)?

I'm an ecology grad student in my first year. I have some plans laid out for the coming summer already, but it was suggested to me that I also look into taking a course for part of the summer. It seems like this would be a good time to work on plant ID skills in the field - I never had proper training in it, and being able to ID plants easily would make my intended research 100x easier in the future. Where could I take a summer course in field botany? Bonus points for somewhere in the Northeast US.
posted by pemberkins to Education (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Hi there - fellow ecology student here. Assuming you've inquired at NE colleges and community colleges, and come up empty-handed, I'd suggest 2 potential approaches, with are not mutually exclusive:

1) Volunteer: Check with zoos and community gardens to see if they offer community education, field trips, and/or volunteer opportunities. Perhaps even more potentially helpful would be spending some volunteer time with an herbarium. Some universities have seed banks or other ongoing collection efforts, often with training sessions. The University of Washington (in Washington state), e.g., has the "Rare Care" native plant collection, an ongoing effort using volunteers in the field. You might contact them and query them about similar programs in your neck of the woods.

2) Self-direction: Botany isn't brain surgery. I don't know the NE US botany books, but I'm sure they exist. Do some Googling, Amazonia, and asking people at your school about the standard texts. You'll want both the popular text(s) and probably a photocopy of the more technical regional academic text's dichotomous key. Then, take them and get out in the field (hiking books with tips on wildflower hikes is a good resource), and start keying out the flowers and trees. Ideally, you'll sketch and/or photograph them and create a field notebook, which is helpful in your remembering what you've learned.

Good luck!
posted by slab_lizard at 4:10 PM on January 18, 2010

A number of Ontario schools run inter-university field biology courses throughout the year, with most happening in the summer. Many are on plant biology and will almost certainly have identification as part of the course. It is primarily for undergraduates, but graduate students are also able to take them. You should take with the specific course's instructor and your graduate coordinator to see if this is a possibility.
posted by Midnight Rambler at 7:01 PM on January 18, 2010

Highlands Biological Station is in a beautiful location and offers some plant ID classes. The schedule is here.
posted by sulaine at 7:13 PM on January 18, 2010

Eagle Hill Field Station is a good place in Maine for field classes of all types. http://www.eaglehill.us/
many of the classes are taught my top naturalists in their fields.

I work as a field ecologist and would love some voluteer help on exchange for botany help if you are in Pennsylvania. If not, check with your state's natural heritage program as they are one of the best places to get field experience. I know a bunch of folks in other states so mefimail me if you want contact info.
posted by buttercup at 7:27 PM on January 18, 2010

Try checking out a local native plant society. In New York there are several including the New York Flora Association.
posted by shrabster at 7:46 PM on January 18, 2010

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