The CNPS Education Program is wrapping up a fantastic spring-summer season of workshops through the Plant Science Training Program. We have held seven workshops this year around California, training 120 individuals on vegetation monitoring and mapping, introductory plant family identification, and rare and wetland plant identification and assessment skills. Many workshop participants attend on behalf of their organizations, planning to bring their new skills back home to help other coworkers or volunteers become proficient in these science-backed techniques and resources, spreading the reach of this program even further to help ensure a healthy future for California’s native plants and special places.
In keeping with the traditions of this training program, locations for our core workshops are varied each year to make them more accessible to those around the state. We like to choose field sites that are particularly interesting or attractive botanically, so participants get the most education (and enjoyment!) out of their experience. Some location highlights this year have included classes in the Mojave Desert, the White Mountains, and CNPS’s birthplace, the Regional Parks Botanic Garden in Berkeley.
CNPS workshops support California’s native plants in many ways. Educating attendees on sound scientific techniques and resources ensures that California’s plants are being treated and accounted for properly by those collecting and utilizing data – whether they are consultants, agency staff, land managers, scientific researchers, or advocates – so that the plants and their habitats can continue to be properly managed and protected.
These workshops not only provide necessary education around the state, they often produce valuable results beyond the knowledge imparted to attendees. This March, the Rare Plant Survey Protocols workshop visited Point Mugu State Park and assessed a population of small-flowered morning glory (Convolvulus simulans), a California Rare Plant Rank 4 species, collecting data which were contributed to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s California Natural Diversity Database (CNDDB). In July, the Vegetation Rapid Assessment/Relevé workshop conducted field surveys high in the bristlecone pine (Pinus longaeva) forest above 10,000 feet in the White Mountains, adding the first survey data points in this area to the CNPS Vegetation Program’s rapid assessment database. Other CNPS workshops also regularly complete “practice” surveys and reporting forms in which real data are collected and submitted to other scientific resources, so that they can be utilized throughout California.
CNPS’s training workshops have spread knowledge and information to countless numbers of individuals over the past 10 years that this program has been in place, and in the next 3-5 years, we are anticipating offering even more workshops around California in conjunction with the new California Consulting Botanist Certification Program. The more people we can educate on sound science and information, the better protected our native plants will be! We are developing our 2017 training schedule now, which will be posted soon at www.cnps.org/workshops – so stay tuned for another spectacular year!
Photos and article by Becky Reilly, CNPS Events Coordinator