Volunteering with BSBI
BSBI offers lots of ways for you to get involved in botany, whether or not you are a BSBI member, but maybe you'd like to explore the next steps available to you as a BSBI volunteer?
Wherever you live in Britain or Ireland, however much time you have to spare and whatever your area of interest or level of botanical expertise, there are volunteering opportunities waiting for you with BSBI.
Below you'll find out more about the various opportunities on offer, whether desk-based or in the field, how to find out more and what to expect when you volunteer with us.
New opportunities for autumn 2022
- We are looking to recruit a new volunteer Editor-in-Chief for our scientific journal, British & Irish Botany. Find out more here.
- There are currently vacancies on two of our standing committees - find out more about the roles and how to apply. This opportunity is members-only.
- Fancy becoming a BSBI trustee? Here's how to apply. This opportunity is also members-only.
- We are getting the support team together for the 2023 New Year Plant Hunt. This opportunity is open to everyone and is a great way to dip your toe in the water and find out more about volunteering with BSBI. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.
Volunteering from home
- We need volunteers every winter to help with the New Year Plant Hunt. Over the past few years, volunteers Ryan, Ciara, Ellen, Richard and Jo have helped with data entry, manned the virtual support desk and answered enquiries from plant hunters on social media. Some of them ended up being interviewed on BBC Countryfile! Find out more in this blogpost by Ciara and read a post by Ellen here.
- Good at writing? If you've attended a BSBI field or indoor meeting, or a training course that you really enjoyed, why not write a short report for our News & Views blog? Or if you've read an interesting paper in a botanical publication, you could write a summary for us?
- Happier with images rather than words? Why not enter the BSBI's annual Photographic Competition? Or send us your best flower or outreach images for uploading to the BSBI's new Instagram account or our News page.
- Good at data entry? We may be able to offer you an opportunity to help! Read how volunteer Shane helped BSBI's Irish Officer with data entry.
Volunteering out and about
- How about offering to organise and lead a field meeting in your area? Contact Field Meetings Secretary Jon Shanklin if you have any suggestions for a great location for a meeting, especially if you can offer a training component. If you don't feel confident about leading on plant ID at your meeting, we may be able to provide an expert on the day.
- If you're based in Scotland or Ireland, are ultra-fit, like climbing mountains and tramping through bogs: have you considered joining the Rough Crew?
- Every year we run conferences and indoor events such as the British & Irish Botanical Conference - if you have an interesting botanical story to tell, we'll offer you free exhibition space or put your name forward for a speaking slot! And we could always do with more help behind the scenes to prepare name badges, upload Powerpoints or set up and dismantle the exhibits.
- Or maybe there are Bioblitzes or local outreach events happening on your home patch and you'd like to attend and help promote BSBI? If you're a BSBI member (and occasionally if you're not!), we can send you display material: read how Liz promoted BSBI in her area.
Even more opportunities for BSBI members
- BSBI has four country committees and three standing committees who oversee activity in the following areas: Training & Education; Events & Communications; and Recording & Research. Although vacancies don't arise all that often, we are always keen to hear from BSBI members who feel they have particular expertise in one of these subject areas, or want to support botany in their country.
- You can also get involved at local or regional level: it's always worth emailing your County Recorder or local group administrator or contacting either your Country Officer or the Secretary of a country committee and asking if there's anything you can help with.
- Once you start volunteering with BSBI, we can offer you more opportunities depending how much time you want to put in - and what you want to get out of your volunteering. Ellen started out volunteering with the New Year Plant Hunt and read here what she's doing now.
- Ciara also started out volunteering on the New Year Plant Hunt and moved on to sit on several BSBI committees and to set up BSBI's Instagram account.
What to expect - and next steps
We're very keen that you should get even more out of your volunteering experience than you put in, so be very clear from the start about what you want to offer and what you expect to get in return.
Maybe you're starting out in your botanical career and want to develop skills and improve job prospects? Or maybe you're approaching retirement and looking to develop a new interest, revive a long-dormant passion or just 'give something back'? Either way, you'll share BSBI's aims and objectives.
If you have ideas about how you'd like to help but you're not seeing anything above that matches your aspirations, please feel free to get in touch with your ideas. If, for example, you're an IT whizz kid or are great at marketing, fundraising, developing apps or producing videos, and would like to offer your services - we'd love to hear from you!
If any of the above piques your interest and you'd like to have an informal chat about volunteering, just email me (I'm BSBI Comms Officer Louise Marsh) or phone me on 07725 862 957 - I'll look forward to hearing from you!
Please note that we don't offer internships (paid or unpaid), only volunteering opportunities, and also that we can only accept volunteers based in Britain or Ireland. If you are based elsewhere, check out our International Botany page for contact details of botanical organisations across the world.
Presenter Anita Rani interviews Ciara and Ellen for BBC Countryfile's feature on the 2018 New Year Plant Hunt
Ryan volunteering on the BSBI outreach stand at Big Nature Day, Natural History Museum
Looking for paid work rather than a volunteering opportunity? Check out our Vacancies page for BSBI staff positions and Jobs In Botany for vacancies across the sector.
Rough Crew: top of the world!
George is a Biology undergrad at Univ Reading & joined BSBI's Events & Comms Committee in 2019. Image courtesy of Jonathan Mitchley
Jodey from Events & Comms Committee on the BSBI stand at the 2016 Exhibition Meeting - in 2019 she took over as Chair
NPMS volunteer Richard uses a smartphone to record the indicator plants in his square
Volunteering with BSBI partner projects
BSBI also runs projects jointly with partners, so there are volunteering opportunities here too.
- Do you know about the National Plant Monitoring Scheme (NPMS), a joint project run by BSBI, CEH, Plantlife and JNCC? In some parts of the UK there's a waiting list for squares to monitor, but in other areas there are opportunities for volunteer surveyors right now!
Interested? Click here and enter your postcode to find out the situation in your local area. You could also consider volunteering to be a trainer or a mentor. Contact NPMS Volunteer Manager Rachel on email@example.com to find out more.
- If you use social media, you may have seen the hundreds of wild flower images which flood Twitter, Instagram and Facebook every Sunday evening during Wild Flower Hour, which BSBI has supported since its inception. The volunteers behind the scenes are always looking for more people to help out with #WildFlowerHour.
Interested? Use the social media link @wildflower_hour to contact the team!