Volunteering with BSBI
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.
Some of the opportunities we can offer you:
- 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.
- 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'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 indoor events such as the BSBI Exhibition Meeting - 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.
- BSBI has four committees who oversee activity in the following areas: Training & Education; Publications; Meetings & 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 four areas.
- Check out also the volunteer vacancy currently being advertised on our Vacancies page for a Treasurer. Do you have the skills to apply for this post?
- Or if you are an IT whizz kid or are great at marketing, fund-raising, developing apps or producing videos, and would like to offer your services - we'd love to hear from you!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 now she sits on several BSBI committees and runs BSBI's Instagram account.
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 any of the above piques your interest and you'd like to have a 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!
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, 2015
Rough Crew: top of the world!
George is a Biology undergrad at Univ Reading & joined BSBI's Meetings & Comms Committee in 2019. Image: J. Mitchley
NPMS volunteer Richard uses a smartphone to record the indicator plants in his square. Image: L. Marsh
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! 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.
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, both for #wildflowerhour itself and also for its junior arm, @HerbologyHunt. Use the social media links to contact the team!