International Volunteer Day 2016

International Volunteer Day is mandated by the United Nations General Assembly and is held each year on December 5. It is a day for volunteers and volunteer based organizations to celebrate their efforts, to share their values, and to showcase the difference they make in their communities.

volunteers-deh037-400x600International Volunteer Day once again provides the opportunity for the State Herbarium of South Australia to recognise and reflect on the huge contribution that its volunteers and Honorary Research Associates make to the success and reputation of our institution.

As a gauge of how significant that contribution is, last financial year the Herbarium’s volunteers contributed 12,843 hours of their time. The Honorary Research Associates’ efforts made up 8,623 of those hours.

The ten Honoraries continue to play a major part in providing the taxonomic research that underpins our fundamental knowledge about native and introduced plant and fungal diversity. To single out some projects, significant contributions were made to weed research by Hellmut Toelken with his work on native and introduced pigfaces, Carpobrotus species (a joint project with the Adelaide and Mt Lofty Ranges Natural Resource Management Region and Birdlife Australia that has been nominated for a DEWNR Green Globe award), Bill Barker with his work on weedy and native broom-rapes (Orobanche) and Laurie Haegi contributing his expertise to help determine if a biological control for a weedy Solanum species can be introduced to Australia without threatening our diverse native Solanum species.  All three are recognised as national and international experts in their fields and we are very fortunate to have their and our other Honoraries skill and experience available to us.

Communicating our knowledge is also a vital part of our work. The efforts of Honorary Bob Baldock in providing beautifully photographed Algae Revealed fact-sheets to help describe and identify our State’s mega-diverse marine algae flora are creating an invaluable addition to our identification aids.  Bob is also an excellent communicator and his blog articles and stunning images of marine algae have set a high bar.

Our general volunteers numbered almost 30 this year and ranged from enthusiastic botany students and graduates to our very senior and experienced long-term volunteers. Once again we are very fortunate to have such a loyal and dedicated volunteer workforce who play a major role in keeping the vital routines of maintaining a collection of over one million specimens in good order.

Contributed by State Herbarium Manager Peter Canty.