In Appreciation: Our Natural History Collection Volunteers

April 3, 2024 Research & Conservation

Since starting as the collections assistant last October, I’ve had the distinct pleasure of getting to know the volunteers working in the Gardens’ natural history collections. Each has their own special story as to how they started volunteering, but their continued enthusiasm boils down to one word: community.

Our volunteers seamlessly interweave lively conversations as they complete the meticulous tasks of specimen processing (save moments of intense concentration). They share snippets of their life stories, recent adventures and ask each other questions regarding specimens. I’ve loved hearing about Sue’s diving adventures, Irene’s bicycle treks around the world with her husband, Jan’s skill to get any seed she acquires to sprout, Ed’s insight on fungi and his pictures of space, Mo’s arctic adventures, the botanical expeditions of Loraine and Tom and even getting to taste Ikuko’s lunch treats. 

Each of our natural history collections – the Kathryn Kalmbach Vascular Plant Herbarium, the Sam Mitchel Herbarium of Fungi and the Collection of Arthropods – have a distinct specimen processing protocol. I am most impressed with how engaged and willing our volunteers are to learn new things on top of their existing expertise to ensure that all specimens are properly processed for incorporation into the collections. Since the start of the pandemic, they’ve accumulated over 6,000 volunteer hours, which truly speaks to their hard work and dedication. I feel very fortunate to have such a wonderful community of volunteers – this blog is dedicated to them. So, thank you Jan, Arich, Pat, Sam, Chris, Mo, Sue, Tom, Mary, Irene, Ed, Ikuko, Roy, Barbara, Susan, Alicia, Alex, Belinda and Loraine.

This article was contributed by Collections Assistant Matthew Sheik.


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