This is a guest post by Jane Wilson.
Many people are “plant blind”. They walk through areas of fantastic wildlife or just down their street without noticing what grows there. Even plants growing in the gutter have an interesting backstory.
The term “Plant Blindness” was first put forth by Wandersee and Schlusser in 1998. Without an appreciation of plants in the ecosystem, people will be less likely to support plant research and conservation.
Herbology Hunt was born out of a love of plants and wild places and a determination to get kids outdoors and really looking at their environment. One of the founders started Wildflower Hour on Twitter – a place for people to share photos of wildflowers found in Britain and Ireland – and from this was stemmed a children’s version, which became Herbology Hunt. The Herbology Hunt team put together spotter sheets for each month of the year. Each sheet includes five plants that can be found throughout the month. They were made available as a free download, so schools and individuals can print them for use on a plant hunt.
By the end of 2018, we had created a year’s worth of spotter sheets. We are now looking to promote their use throughout Great Britain. Eventually we want to reward children who find 50 of the plants with a free T-shirt, and we will be looking for sponsors to support this. We have been supported by the Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland and the Wild Flower Society who have made the monthly spotter sheets available. They can be downloaded here or here.
The Wild Flower Society has a great offer for Juniors interested in plants – it costs £3 to join and you get a diary to record your finds.
Going outdoors and noticing wildlife has been shown in some scientific studies to improve cardio-vascular health and mental health. A herbology hunt must surely be a good thing to do with children to help them get into a better lifestyle that will benefit their future health. We hope that many families and schools will use our spotter sheets as a way to help children become more passionate about the environment and enjoy the benefits of being outdoors.
Also: Check out Jane Wilson’s website – Practical Science Teaching – for more botany-themed educational activities.