A botanist is a scientist who studies plants. They research various aspects of plants, including their growth, reproduction, diseases, and environmental impact. Botanists may work in laboratories, conducting experiments to better understand plant processes, or they may work in the field, collecting plant samples and studying plant communities. They also play a crucial role in plant conservation and biodiversity preservation. Botanists often collaborate with other scientists to solve environmental problems and develop sustainable agricultural practices. Overall, their work helps us understand and appreciate the importance of plants in our ecosystems and contributes to the advancement of plant-related industries.
Have you ever thought about what you want to be when you grow up? Maybe you dream of becoming an actor, a musician, or a professional athlete. Or perhaps you have a passion for plants, like flowers, grasses, and trees. If that’s the case, then the field of botany might be perfect for you!
But you might be wondering, what exactly do botanists do? Let’s take a closer look at the exciting world of plant scientists.
Do you think you can name all the plant species in the world? It’s impossible! There are countless types of grasses, vegetables, flowers, and trees out there. The sheer number of plant species is mind-boggling. As a botanist, you would have the opportunity to study a vast number of species.
Botanists can work in various settings. Some become teachers or researchers at colleges and universities. Others find employment in botanical gardens, zoos, or greenhouses. They may also work for science labs, pharmaceutical companies, or government agencies. Many botanists engage in both laboratory and field work.
The possibilities for a botanist are endless. You could research how pollution and climate change impact different plant species. You could use advanced genetics to cultivate new and improved plants. You might even discover new species or novel uses for well-known plants. You could focus on improving crop yields or developing new medicines. Perhaps you could even contribute to the search for alternative fuels to meet the world’s growing energy needs.
Today, one in every five plant species in the world is at risk of extinction. Some botanists dedicate their work to preserving these endangered plants. Take Steve Perlman from the University of Hawaii’s Plant Extinction Prevention Program, for example. He devotes his life to protecting the 238 plant species in Hawaii that are on the brink of extinction.
Perlman’s work often takes him out into the field. He may construct fences to protect endangered species from grazing animals. He may also rappel off cliffs or climb mountains to collect specimens from hard-to-reach areas. In some cases, he even manually pollinates the last few individuals of certain species. His dedication and efforts are truly remarkable!
Some people may think that botany is a dull and uninteresting field. However, Perlman would strongly disagree! What other exciting adventures in botany can you imagine?
Give it a Try
Are you interested in learning more about botany? Check out the following activities with a friend or family member:
Exploring the World of Plants
Are you fascinated by plants? Can you envision yourself pursuing a career as a botanist? What kind of work would you prefer as a botanist: laboratory research or fieldwork? Ponder these questions and discuss your thoughts with a friend or family member. You never know when you might discover a career path that leads to a fulfilling job.
If you’re eager to venture outdoors and explore, why not become a curious student botanist for a few hours? Grab a friend and go for a hike, or simply wander around your backyard. Don’t forget to bring a notebook along. Observe the various plants you encounter. Sketch a few grasses, flowers, and trees. If you know their names, label them. If not, seek help from an adult to identify them later. Pay attention to the natural world surrounding you. What questions arise when you observe the plants? Jot down a couple of intriguing questions. When you return indoors or visit the library, conduct online research to find answers to your queries.
Early botanists dedicated a significant amount of time to cataloging the flora they discovered. For instance, when they encountered a new flower species, they often collected a sample and pressed it for future study. You can do the same with flowers. Find a few flower species in your area and preserve them using the flower pressing techniques outlined in this guide.
- https://www.environmentalscience.org/career/botanist (accessed 24 Sept. 2020)
- https://www.agriculture.purdue.edu/usda/careers/botanist.html (accessed 24 Sept. 2020)
- https://www.csmonitor.com/Environment/Inhabit/2017/0705/Extreme-botany-How-far-should-we-go-to-save-a-plant-species (accessed 24 Sept. 2020)