Workshops

Seven workshops are being offered on Sunday, 24 November. Note that morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea are generally not included in the price of these workshops. Each workshop will need to reach a minimum number of participants to go ahead, and has a maximum number of participants allowed. Please register and pay early to avoid disappointment!

Workshop 1: Wikipedia Edit-a-thon on Australasian endangered plant species (9:00–17:00)

This workshop will now be run as a free public event—but you will need to register, see this page for details.

An Edit-a-thon is an all-day attempt to improve Wikipedia’s coverage of a particular topic, this event will focus on adding content on New Zealand and Australian endangered plant species to Wikipedia.

Workshops 2 and 3: Botanising with iNaturalist for beginners and advanced users

iNaturalist is the world’s biggest online community dedicated to recording all species. Worldwide, as of March 2019, over half a million people have added almost 20 million observations, including over 7 million plant observations. The community continues to grow exponentially.

You can add observations of any species to iNaturalist, using the website or free app. A vibrant community, aided by iNaturalist’s machine learning, identifies everything to the lowest taxonomic level possible.

iNaturalist is operated by the California Academy of Sciences and National Geographic, in California, and has regional nodes in the iNaturalist Network run by institutions around the world. iNaturalist NZ–Mātaki Taiao, and soon iNaturalist Australia, are regional communities in the global iNaturalist Network.

iNaturalist NZ has been in operation since 2012 and, as of March 2019, there have been 274,830 plant observations made by 4604 observers, of 6435 species, determined by 1665 identifiers. All the observations are freely available for research and the “research grade” observations of identified wild species are all shared with the GBIF (Global Biodiversity Information Facility) and Australasian records are regularly imported into ALA (the Atlas of Living Australia).

Being a botanist in the iNaturalist community is both great fun and useful; we connect people to nature and grow both botanical knowledge and future botanists.

There will be two half-day iNaturalist workshop options, both of which will be led by Jon Sullivan. Jon is the site admin of iNaturalist NZ and a trustee on the charitable trust that operates iNaturalist NZ. His day job is an ecology lecturer at Lincoln University.

Both workshops will take place at the Treehouse Seminar Room at the Wellington Botanic Garden. Each workshop can accommodate up to 30 people, and each requires a minimum of 10 to go ahead. You may register for one or both workshops!

What to bring:

  • Your own camera, device and power cord. The Treehouse has free wifi.
  • A hand lens, if you have one.
  • Your own lunch or snacks. There is a small kitchen at the Treehouse where participants can make tea and coffee. For lunch, please bring your own or visit the Picnic Café which is a pleasant 7 minute walk (550 m) through the botanic gardens, and is the closest café to the venue.

Workshop 2: Botanising with iNaturalist—a morning workshop for beginners (9:00–12:00)

The morning workshop will give you an introduction to how to add observations to iNaturalist with the app and the website, how to help identify others’ observations, how to set up and use projects, and how to search and download observatons. We’ll start from scratch and get you up to speed as both an observer and an identifier on iNat. We’ll also show you how to focus your iNat experience on just plants, using iNat’s filters. Be sure to bring along your favourite device(s) (smart phone/tablet/laptop) and a hand lens if you’ve got one. We’ll spend part of the morning staring at our screens and part of the morning staring at plants outside in the Wellington Botanic Garden.

Cost: $15. Please note that morning tea and lunch are not included in the price of this half-day workshop.

Workshop 3: Botanising with iNaturalist—an afternoon workshop for advanced users (13:00–16:00)

The afternoon workshop will focus on how to take your iNaturalist use to the next level. There’s an amazing amount more to iNaturalist than first meets the eye. We will include a mix of the folliwing topics: bulk uploading observations, bulk tagging observations with observation fields, batch editing observations, curating the iNaturalist species tree and nomenclature, managing projects, dealing with geoprivacy and threatened species, advanced searching using URL strings (there are many more search options available than the friendly iNat interface displays), streaming iNat observations to external websites, and connecting R to iNaturalist for analysis. How much time we spend on each of these topics will be determined by the interests and skills of the attendees.

Cost: $15. Please note that lunch and afternoon tea are not included in the price of this half-day workshop.

Workshops 4 and 5: Plant identification at Otari

Otari Native Botanic Garden and Wilton’s Bush Reserve (Otari) is the only public botanic garden in New Zealand dedicated solely to native plants. It is also home to the largest forest remnant in Wellington City. Come along and experience this national treasure as we host two half-day workshops running morning and afternoon on the day. These workshops will give participants the opportunity to look closely at New Zealand native plants in the field and under the microscope. Members of the Wellington Botanical Society will also be on hand at Otari for the whole day to share their knowledge and skills, and there will be guided walks telling the story of the forest, gardens, and the unique New Zealand flora. Finn Michalak, Otari’s Collection Curator, is coordinating the workshops and will also be on site. It shall be a fantastic day for beginners and experts alike!

There will be two half-day Plant Identification workshop options. Both workshops will take place at Otari. One will be based at Otari’s Leonard Cockayne Centre and the other at the Otari Information Centre. Each workshop can accommodate up to 30 people, and each requires a minimum of 10 to go ahead. You may register for one or both workshops! Bring your lunch and make a day of it—there are plenty of trails and native bush to explore on your own or with others at Otari.

What to bring:

  • Sturdy footwear and suitable clothing in case of rain.
  • A hand lens, if you have one, but there will be some available.
  • Your own lunch or snacks. There is a small kitchen at Otari where participants can make tea and coffee. Tea and coffee will be available. For lunch, please bring your own as there are no cafés or shops near the venue.

Getting to Otari:

Otari is about 5 km from the city centre, at 160 Wilton Road (between Gloucester and Warwick streets).

  • Using public transport: Take the No 14 Wilton bus from the city centre (e.g. Courtney Place or Lambton Quay) to Otari-Wilton’s Bush, make sure you alight at the bottom of Warwick St. Take the same bus back to town.
  • Arriving by car: You can also drive there and park for free at the main public car park at the Wilton Road entrance.
  • Accessibility: Wheelchair-friendly paths run from the main carpark to the Information Centre, over the Canopy Walkway, and to Cockayne Lookout. A step-free path runs from the Churchill Drive carpark along the Kaiwharawhara streamside to the Troup Picnic Lawn.

Workshop 4: How to identify New Zealand ferns—a morning workshop (9:00–12:00)

Pat Brownsey

The morning workshop will start at 9 am with a presentation outlining the defining features of ferns, things to focus on in the field, characters of the major fern families, and resources available to those who want to know more. Then, participants will have the opportunity to receive hands-on, practical instruction on how to identify New Zealand ferns using keys, microscopes and other resources. Finally there will be a one hour guided walk around the fernery and bush at Otari with a chance to see and identify native ferns in a semi-wild state. This workshop will be run by New Zealand fern expert Patrick Brownsey (Research Fellow, Te Papa, WELT) and Jeremy Rolfe (Department of Conservation).

Jeremy Rolfe

Cost: $15. Please note that morning tea and lunch are not included in the price of this half-day workshop.

Workshop 5: Vegetation surveying and plant identification in the field—an afternoon workshop (13:00–16:00)

This afternoons workshop will start at 13:00 with a one hour guided botanical walk from Otari based plant wizard Finn Michalak. During this walk we will collect specimens, discuss the salient features we use for plant identification, and identify our favourite plants we encounter. From 14:00–16:00 experienced field botanists Rowan Hindmarsh-Walls and Alex Fergus (Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research) will take over from Finn and we can either spend some time learning more species, or identifying the collections we have made back in the lab with the aid of dichotomous keys, hand lenses and microscopes. Depending on the appetites of participants we can either focus on plant identification or spend a few hours working through the standard techniques used for vegetation surveying in New Zealand. This could include the RECCE method, understorey subplot measurement, sapling counts and stem increment growth measurements (DBH), all key methods used in New Zealand for understanding forest demography and community structure. With Finn, Rowan and Alex to cover all bases we can be very adaptable in our plans for the afternoon and can break into smaller groups to target specific interests. If anyone is keen, we can end the afternoon with a beer and a robust discussion about the merits of national monitoring systems at the ASBS-NZPCN Conference Welcome Function at Te Papa (see below).

Cost: $15. Please note that morning tea and lunch are not included in the price of this half-day workshop.

Workshop 6: Basics of Illustration (8:45–16:00)

Tanya Scharaschkin

Tanya Scharaschkin

Simple drawings are a very effective form of scientific communication: after all, a picture is said to be worth a thousand words! Photographs do not always provide a suitable visual aid. This workshop is meant for those who would like to produce simple illustrations, but think they cannot draw or don’t know how to get started. We will work with photographs to create illustration-quality line drawings. You will learn some basic drawing techniques using pens. Composition, scale and preparation for digitisation will be discussed. By the end of the workshop, you should have some line drawings that you can be proud of and would not hesitate to include in your publications, laboratory manuals or teaching resources.

The main goal of this workshop is for participants to create simple line drawings as an alternative to photographs so as to improve communication of scientific observations.

Draft programme

8:45  Meet and greet
9:00 Introduction—scope and aims of workshop
9:15 Theory—use of illustration versus photographs
9:30 Practical—deciding when and what to draw
10:30 Morning tea break
11:00 Practical—basic drawing techniques
11:30 Practical—use photographs to scale and create simple drawings
13:00 Lunch break
14:00 Theory—composition, scale, use of drafting film and digitisation
14:30 Practical—completion of illustration
15:30 Wrap up—show and tell, questions and feedback
16:00 End of workshop

This all-day workshop will take place at the Otari School Hall. Otari School is about 5 km from the city centre, at 166 Wilton Road. It is next door to Otari Wilton’s Bush (160 Wilton Road). Once you enter the grounds of Otari School, the school hall is clearly indicated toward the end of the drive. To get there follow these instructions:

  • Using public transport: Take the No 14 Wilton bus from the city centre (e.g. Courtney Place or Lambton Quay) to Otari-Wilton’s Bush, make sure you alight at the bottom of Warwick St. Take the same bus back to town.
  • Arriving by car: You can also drive there and park for free at the Otari School car park, or a the main public car park at the Otari-Wilton’s Bush Wilton Road entrance.

It will be limited to a maximum of 24 participants, and requires a minimum of 12 participants to go ahead. The workshop leader, Tanya Scharaschkin (see below), will be assisted by local botanical artists Jane Humble and Eleanor Burton on the day.

The workshop will be led by Tanya Scharaschkin, who is a botanist (plant systematist) by training. She was a full-time research and teaching academic until mid-2017, after which she became a self-employed scientist and artist, now based in Tasmania, Australia. Her research and teaching focuses on the structure, evolutionary relationships and geographic history of plants. From an early age she has been fascinated by natural history and has had an artistic and scientific interest in plants. Tanya draws both Australian native plants as well non-native plants commonly grown in public spaces. She often represents plants from an angle not commonly observed by the general public, but that botanists usually find fascinating and informative. The absence of colour in her graphite and ink artwork enables her to focus solely on structural and textural details. Tanya conducts a variety of workshops for scientists (like this one!), non-scientists (e.g. Botanical Sketching, The Nature of Plants) and artists (see below) as a way of sharing her enthusiasm for plants and exposing people to the sheer beauty of plants. She especially enjoys communicating with the general public about scientific topics. She hopes her art will inspire others to not only admire plants but also develop an understanding and appreciation for the biology of plants.

What to bring: 

  • Clipboard/desk easel or backing board to support paper.
  • Ruler, pencils (2H, HB, 2B), sharpener and eraser.
  • A4 plain paper to draw on.
  • Selection of fibre-tip pens (including 0.1 or 0.05 and 0.3).
  • Examples of scientific illustration (on your phone, a print out or in whatever format is convenient for you) of the type you would like to be able to do yourself.
  • Printed versions of photographs of what you would like to illustrate in the future. We might be able to discuss your particular project if time permits.

Cost: $50. Please note that morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea are not included in the price of this workshop.

But wait, there’s more!

While she is in Wellington for the conference, Tanya will also be offering a two-day, post-conference workshop entitled “Botany for Botanical Artists” on the weekend 30 November – 1 December, 2019 at the Leonard Cockayne Centre at Otari Native Botanic Garden and Wilton’s Bush Reserve (Otari). This post-conference workshop will be open to anyone, regardless of conference participation, and is aimed at botanical artists and non-scientists who wish to develop a greater appreciation for plant biology and to improve observational and drawing skills. The extra post-conference two-day workshop will cost $200 and be strictly limited to 12 participants. More details and registration for this two-day workshop only.

Workshop 7: Science Communication Skills for Botanists

Have you ever wanted to blog but been too afraid to try? Do you enjoy storytelling? Do you not enjoy storytelling because you think you’re not a good storyteller, and would like to improve? Would you like to help raise the profile of taxonomy and systematics in Australia and New Zealand?

One early task for Taxonomy Australia is to enhance the visibility of our science in the community and to reposition taxonomy and systematics as cool and impactful. We’re trying to do this by telling our stories—stories of discoveries and discoverers, of the lives of our organisms, stories about why we and biodiversity matter, even mystery stories about the things we don’t know yet. People love a good story, and we have some rippers.

This workshop is all about learning to improve your science communications and media skills—your storytelling—for a good cause. It will cover storytelling in all its forms, from writing to being interviewed.

Important note: this will be an extended workshop, with a program of work—writing stories and helping improve other’s stories—during the two months before the physical one-day workshop in Wellington. You can register for this workshop even if you can’t make it to the 2019 ASBS–NZPCN joint conference. The one-day workshop in Wellington will be webcast.

Draft programme

20 September. Workshop commences. Introduction and plan of work by webinar and email.

20 September – 20 November: Pre-conference exercises. For this component of the extended workshop, participants will draft one or more stories in blog form on a biodiversity/taxonomy/biosystematics/conservation topic of their choice. The whole group will then critique the stories, suggesting improvements and offering responses, in a positive, supportive and structured environment. As stories become mature and well-crafted, they will be published, either on the Taxonomy Australia website or on suitable other platforms (especially for New Zealand participants). This will be a learning-by-doing exercise, with experts in the field to help. Depending on availability of technology and expertise, we may also try developing podcasts or vlogs as appropriate.

24 November: Physical workshop in Wellington (webcast to participants who cannot attend in person). Draft programme on the day is as follows:

08:30–09:00 Meet and greet, introductions
09:00–10:30 The secrets of good storytelling (Andrea)
10:30–11:00 Morning tea break
11:00–11:30 Being strategic—why are you telling a story and who should tell it
(Andrea)
11:30–12:30 What works and why? Examples from real life (Group)
12:30–13:30 Lunch break
13:30–14:30 Secrets of giving a good interview—what to expect and how to prepare
(Alison)
14:30–15:00 Afternoon tea break
15:00–17:00 Interview practice sessions (Group)
17:00 End of Workshop

This all-day workshop will take place in the Giant Squid meeting room at Te Papa’s natural history storehouse and research facility at 169 Tory Street, Wellington. Please come up the back outdoor staircase between the visitor parking and the vehicle ramps, past the parking area, to the back door on Level 3. A staff member will be waiting to let you in and show you to the meeting room on Level 4. The Tory St facility is about a 10 minute walk from Te Papa.

The workshop will be limited to a maximum of 30 participants, and requires a minimum of 15 participants to go ahead. The workshop leaders are Kevin Thiele, Andrea Wild and Alison Ballance.

Andrea Wild

Andrea Wild is a science writer who works as a communication advisor with the National Research Collections Australia at CSIRO. She has many years of experience in content creation for different channels, from traditional media and websites through to blogs and social media. Andrea works closely with spokespeople to build their skills and confidence in publicising their research and communicating with influence. You can find out more about CSIRO’s collections and read some of Andrea’s writings.

Kevin Thiele

Kevin Thiele is the founding Director of Taxonomy Australia, an organisation established to advocate and implement in Australia the recommendations of Discovering biodiversity: A decadal plan for taxonomy and biosystematics in Australia and New Zealand 2018–2027. Put simply, Taxonomy Australia has a mission to reposition taxonomy and systematics as an important, impactful and ‘cool’ science, and to bring about a substantial reinvestment in the discipline in Australia and New Zealand. Kevin Thiele has a long career as a botanist with a strong interest in both core taxonomic research and in informatics, the art and science of making taxonomic knowledge more readily available to the public. He was Head of the Western Australian Herbarium for a decade before leading the project to develop the decadal plan. He has an unashamed enthusiasm for taxonomy, biosystematics, and all the creatures that taxonomists and biosystematists study and seek to understand.

Alison Ballance

Alison Ballance is a zoologist, science broadcaster and nature writer who has produced award-winning radio and TV documentaries as well as 29 nature books. She currently produces RNZ Our Changing World as well as various podcasts.

Cost: $75. Please note that lunch is not included in the price of this workshop.

What to bring:

  • Your laptop or other device and power cord. The venue has free wifi.
  • Examples of good and not-so-good stories for the critiques.
  • There is a tea room near the Giant Squid Meeting Room that can be used for morning and afternoon tea breaks, and lunch. Please bring your own lunch, or you can go to a nearby restaurant for lunch as a group (please note the cost of lunch is not included in the cost of the workshop).