Delivering nature - and learning - without boundaries
Children and adults deprived of their usual open access to nature are snapping up a raft of new learning opportunities from the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE). When the country went into lockdown, the research institute moved up a gear to extend its online courses and provide wider inspiration for local visitors and global learners. Now, with uptake on fun distractions and formal learning exceeding expectations, a fresh offer is being put in place for those interested in finding out more about the plants on which we all depend.
While some 400 children – and a few grown-ups - have been enjoying virtual botanical exploits with RBGE’s real time resident cat, 460 adults have signed-up to a special half-price offer for the RHS Level 2 course in horticulture and another 235 are already taking-up a similar offer for the Garden’s Getting Started in Botany course. As the RHS Level 2 offer reaches its conclusion on Thursday, April 30, a new half-price offer on RHS Level 3 will take its place, until May 18.
At a fun level, young children forced to stay away from their regular studies are being welcomed to Marley's School of Garden Magic. Guided by Marley, the Garden's cheeky black cat, they have an opportunity to find out about some of the weird and wonderful plants to be encountered in the Garden – and a few magical creatures too.
“Many children – and their families – will recognise Marley from visits to the Garden, possibly having encountered him snoozing in the summer sun or, perhaps, hanging out in the Glasshouses, when the weather is not so good,” explained Head of Education Suzanne Hermiston. “When we were looking to provide new focus for children being home schooled because of COVID-19, he immediately came to mind. He's the perfect guide to encourage children to find out more about plants and our environment through a series of mini online tasks and expeditions.”
Aware at the frustrations of older students and adults unable to venture far, other learning opportunities are also available. Plants Fight Back is a free mini taster course outlining the techniques different plants adopt to protect themselves from predators. From their own forms of chemical warfare to mimicry, this provides insight into the dramatic array of tactics used and is intended to be a first step for individuals who think they might want to learn more about botany and horticulture.
Other courses range from the localised Keep Edinburgh Buzzing!, a look at the importance of pollinators, to Getting Started with Botany, an introduction to plant diversity, reproduction and classification and many more.
“We have online students around the world and we have strived to ensure we are fully equipped to keep courses running smoothly during the lockdown,” added Suzanne Hermiston. “While we were aware a few more might sign-up for courses this spring, we possibly underestimated just how popular Getting Started in Botany and RHS 2 would be. Therefore, with the RHS half-price offer ending on April 30, we have decided to replace it with the RHS 3 Certificate in the Principles of Plant Growth, Health and Applied Propagation. For now, the Getting Started with Botany offer continues to run. Again, this will be for a limited period.
“More than ever before, an important part of our role needs to be about encouraging a wider network of people who care about the fragile environment, on which all life depends. Hopefully, inspiring a few more people to study these courses can be a relevant part of that goal.”
More information can be obtained by visiting https://propagatelearning.rbge.ac.uk
For further information, interviews, review copies or images, please respond to this email or contact Shauna Hay on 07824 529 028
Learning at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. RBGE provides a diverse range of formal and informal education programmes for people of all ages and all levels. From primary school to PhD, amateur or professional, the organisation is committed to lifelong learning.
The landscaped Gardens, botanical collections and expertise of RBGE staff offer one of the world’s best resources for learning about the natural world.
The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE) is a leading international research organisation delivering knowledge, education and plant conservation action around the world. In Scotland its four Gardens at Edinburgh, Benmore, Dawyck and Logan attract nearly a million visitors each year. It operates as a Non Departmental Public Body established under the National Heritage (Scotland) Act 1985, principally funded by the Scottish Government. It is also a registered charity, managed by a Board of Trustees appointed by Ministers. Its mission is “To explore, conserve and explain the world of plants for a better future.” Learn more: www.rbge.org.uk
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