The 8th annual Botany Society’s 13-week Certification Course starts January 4, 2016, in Borrego Springs at the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park’s Visitor Center.
The weekly class teaches the new volunteers to acquaint visitors with the park’s nearly 1,000 species of plants and to help them appreciate the true nature of these hardy plants that struggle to survive in a harsh and unforgiving environment. The required text is California Desert Flowers by Sia Morhardt and Emil Morhardt. Upon completion of the course, participants become Certified ABDSP Botany Society members.
The course, which ends March 29, focuses on the plants in the context of the desert’s ecosystem and demonstrates how plants are influenced by climate, geology, and geography, and plants’ relationships with their pollinators. Technical terminology is kept to a minimum and interactive classroom activities and extensive fieldwork enable students to examine and learn to identify the park’s plants. No science background is necessary.
Botany Society members will lead the sessions, held on Mondays, generally from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. They are Arie Korporaal on geology, Kate Harper on plant adaptations and the factors of plant distribution and water flow in the desert; and Don Rideout, Marilyn Dickson, Joanne Ingwall, Laura Webb, Birgit Knorr; and Paul Larson and Mac McNair on various plant communities or families. Kathy Bussey will launch the course the first day of class. Pat Flanagan, environmental educator and advocate, will lead a class on pollination and Colorado Desert District Botanist Larry Hendrickson will lead a field trip.
The early part of the course will highlight well-known perennials, such as Chuparosa and Creosote Bush. Later in the spring the focus shifts to the wildflower bloom. Most of the classes are held at 200 Palm Canyon Drive, Borrego Springs CA 92004. Others are in the field.
Botany Society volunteers lead nature walks, mount herbarium specimens, assist in classroom and field instruction, and participate in project-based activities such as plant surveys, plant collections, and non-native invasive species removal.
There is no charge for the course, but participants are expected to volunteer a minimum of 40 hours a year for at least two years. Enrollment in the course is limited. People interested in enrolling should send an email to Thebotanysociety@gmail.com