May 29, 2014

Dr. Richard Carter Presents “Plants – Our Essential Companions”

VALDOSTA – Dr. Richard Carter, professor of biology and curator of the herbarium at Valdosta State University, will conduct a five-day workshop to emphasize the significance of plants in ecosystems for middle grades and secondary-level teachers June 9 to 13. The workshop, titled “Plants – Our Essential Companions,” will address various aspects of plants and provide information and resources on teaching about plants in the classroom.

“This workshop is tied to Georgia Performance Standards for middle grades and secondary-level teachers,” said Carter. “It will reinforce content about the general importance of plants to society and the roles plants play in ecosystems, the importance of biological collections in research and the use of technology in teaching and research. Participants will receive three professional learning units (PLU) and will receive a $500 stipend.”

The workshop is funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation. The week will include a field trip to a local site where participants will collect specimens, gather data about the specimens and record the data in a field notebook.

“Centered around the digitization activities in the VSU herbarium, through a series of hands-on activities, the workshop will focus on the importance of biological collections in research and teaching and the importance of plants generally to society and to ecosystems,” said Carter. “Participants will learn how to digitize specimens collected by preparing high-resolution photographs of them and entering the label data into the database. There will also be units on rare plants and invasive weeds.”

Carter developed this workshop for teachers because of its potential to reach students at an impressionable age and combat “plant blindness.”

Carter is a botanist who specializes in flora of the Georgia coastal plain and taxonomy of sedges. He has served at Valdosta State since 1984, teaching a variety of courses such as General Botany, Plant Taxonomy, Local Flora, Dendrology, History and Use of Medicinal Plants, and Natural History for Middle School Teachers. He also curates the herbarium, which is the second largest in Georgia and holds a collection of more than 65,000 plant specimens. Carter files preserved plants and populates a growing digital database with important information about the plants. 

Enrollment for the workshop is limited to eight and registration is $25. For registration information, contact VSU’s Office of Continuing Education at (229) 245-6484.