Advanced Botany

By Carolyn Semedo-Strauss

When I read on the Arlington Regional Master Naturalist listserv several weeks back about an advanced training opportunity on botany, “Let’s Scope it Out! Advanced Botany.” I excitedly signed up. A little bit too eager, I missed that the word “advanced” modified “botany,” though it also qualified as advanced training.

As the class began, I planted myself at a table with a microscope, various texts, handouts, and plant samples. Once our instructor, Emily Ferguson, began speaking, I realized immediately that I was in over my head.

While a lot of the terminology drifted in one ear and out the other and feelings of inadequacy washed over me, I confessed my error to my learned table-mate, who reassured me that we would all be learning something new. Indeed, I did!

While I was weak on plant ID and terminology, I let my curiosity by my guide. I grabbed the razor blade and a pair of tweezers and began slicing as directed. As one of my classmates put it, looking at anything under a microscope is fun. How true!

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