All children start out with an innate interest in nature: present a toddler with a worm or a dandelion clock and their fascination is evident.
But too often that interest gets lost at an early age. It has been estimated that only half of UK children between the age of five and 16 can identify a stinging nettle. Nearly half don’t know what brambles, blackberries and bluebells look like.
With botany increasingly lumped together with broader biology courses, how can we encourage the growth of the next generation of botanists? Is the digital age making it more difficult for young people to develop an interest in plants or is it something we should embrace? Leif Bersweden talks to us on ‘Earth Day’ about how now is the time to encourage young people to learn their daisies from their dandelions and to take notice of the greener things in life.
Leif Bersweden is an author and botanist with a lifelong interest in nature, focusing on wild plants from the age of seven. He grew up in rural Wiltshire where he taught himself how to identify the local flora and now regularly leads plant identification training courses for The Species Recovery Trust. Leif graduated from the University of Oxford with a degree in Biology and recently completed his PhD at Kew Gardens, where his research focused on orchid genetics. In a world where an interest in botany is becoming increasingly rare, he wants to help put plants back on the map and is endeavouring to do this through his teaching, research and publications.
See also his book The Orchid Hunter, a young botanist’s search for happiness. @LeifBersweden
Tickets: Donations only please
The SLBI is a registered charity for botanical education. It supports people of all ages and backgrounds in learning about plants. By making a donation with your booking you will help to sustain our work with school children, families and the wider community. As a small charity, any amount you can give, large or small, will be warmly appreciated and make an enormous difference. Thankyou.
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Hyacinthoides non-scripta Bentley Wood, Wiltshire