Gillian Candler reviews the NMIT Plant Identification course
An informative guided walk at Otari/Wilton's Bush last year spurred me on to join the local Botanical Society. I’m a children’s author so sometimes take a childlike view of things, I get excited by Hen and Chicken’s Ferns
|Hen and Chickens Fern|
In order to master the language a bit better, I decided to enrol in a Plant Identification course run by NMIT (Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology) for the Department of Conservation. I had already completed some of their Conservation Field Skills courses so was confident the course would be good. The 2-day Plant Identification course is free and is held at different venues all around the country. I opted to do the course in Ohakune/Raetihi and a friend travelled down from Auckland to join me. Of the fourteen participants 9 were from DoC and the rest like me were volunteers in conservation projects.
Our tables were strewn with leaves and cuttings, so even in the ‘classroom’ most activities were hands on and involved us in plenty of discussion. The clever course design catered for beginners as well as those with patchy or developing knowledge. Our text was the helpful and well illustrated “Introduction to Plant Life in New Zealand: Plant Conservation Training Module 1” from NZPCN (New Zealand Plant Conservation Network).
We made several trips to the Raetihi reserve - an ideal learning venue because of the variety of plants. Among stunning tall rimu and kahikatea, coprosmas and wheki-ponga, weeds abounded.
|Course participants dwarfed by wheki-ponga|
|Leaf treasure hunt|
|Melicytus lanceolata - lanceolata describes the shape of the leaves|
This course provided me with the language help I’d been looking for (even if it means I might need to cart my textbook around with me for awhile!) and a framework for going about the business of plant identification. The tutor Beth Endres from NMIT had the skills to manage our diverse backgrounds and levels of knowledge, and keep the course flowing. The other participants were all keen, interested and interesting, as they all brought different knowledge and experiences to the table. They helped make this an exceptional experience. This is the best course I’ve done in recent years and I thoroughly recommend it to other amateurs and volunteers wanting to improve their plant knowledge.
The information about the course can be found on the NMIT website: http://www.nmit.ac.nz/programmes-and-courses/a-z-of-study-areas/conservation/conservation-field-skills-training-schemes/
Other useful links:
Department of Conservation Training http://www.doc.govt.nz/get-involved/training-and-teaching/field-based-courses/
New Zealand Plant Conservation Network http://nzpcn.org.nz/