Actually, I became a mentee a few weeks ago but yesterday was my first outing with my mentor and other members of the Glamorgan Botany Group. My plant knowledge is abysmal and I felt I needed to remedy that so when SEWBReC (the South East Wales Biodiversity Records Centre) announced that, as part of the Heritage Lottery-funded Mary Gillham Archive Project, they would be running a Botany Mentorship Scheme ‘to encourage the sharing of knowledge from experienced botanists to enthusiastic beginners’, I put my hand up.
As SEWBReC’s announcement said, ‘Mary spent her lifetime sharing her ecological knowledge including many years as an Extra Mural Lecturer at Cardiff University, so the inclusion of a Botany Mentorship Scheme in the project will carry on her passion for teaching others about the wildlife of south east Wales’. Lady Luck was smiling on me the day the mentees were selected and I am now one of a handful of keen amateurs with a steep (or so it seems to me) learning curve in front of me.
Yesterday, with my mentor and eight other enthusiastic plant people, I stomped around some of the less-well-explored and under-recorded green spaces of Barry, a town on the south Wales coast, examining and recording plant species. My mentor and walk-mates were welcoming, friendly, and generous in sharing their extensive knowledge, and it was a splendid, if somewhat overwhelming day. I have a great deal to learn but I’m looking forward to the challenge immensely.