We’re not in the habit of posting job advertisements in this column – especially when the application deadlines will have long passed when this collection is published – but some jobs are just too important (and Plant Cuttings’ relevant) not to be highlighted. In early July (2016) when this piece was penned – two of the UK’s most august plant-based organizations advertised for a Head of Interpretation, and a Head of Science and Public Engagement, at RBG Kew, and the University of Oxford Botanic Garden and the Harcourt Arboretum (OBGHA), respectively.
As the advertorial states, ‘The Head of Interpretation [at Kew] is a new role, presenting an exciting opportunity for a capable and motivated person to introduce a substantial step-change in the quality and quantity of interpretation for visitors across Kew Gardens and Wakehurst’ (home of the world-famous Millennium Seed Bank). A particularly exciting challenge will be the opportunity to deliver ‘outstanding interpretation within the newly restored Temperate House’.
The OBGHA post is also an ‘exciting opportunity for a dynamic plant scientist with broad interests in research, education and public engagement … [for] a multi-tasker with a proven track record in research and public engagement with the ability to lead and manage staff and develop and implement new ideas for interpreting our world-class collections’, at the University of Oxford Botanic Garden and the Harcourt Arboretum[. Both represent fantastic opportunities to influence people’s perceptions of, and relationships with, plants.
Both senior jobs underline not only the importance of botanic gardens and plant collections as invaluable resources, but also the front-line in the continuing battle to cure the population of the scourge of plant blindness. And, appropriately guided Public Engagement and Interpretation of the relevance of plants has a major role to play in that latter ambition. All at this column wish the new appointees the very best in these most worthy of endeavours![Ed. – with their goal of educating the public, these two posts complement the Gatsby Plant Science Education Programme (GPSEP), based at Cambridge University Botanic Garden. GPSEP promotes the important role of plant science, and targets school-aged pupils, bioscience undergraduates and school science teachers across the UK, and recently appointed its own new Head, Dan Jenkins. What with Cambridge inspiring the next generation of plant scientists, and Oxford and Kew/London changing the hearts and minds of the Great British public who fund much of that plant science, maybe we can cure the world of its phyto-myopia (and help to save the planet at the same time!). If that aim is realized by plant science education schemes just one country at a time, then it’ll be a good start.