Volunteer Spotlight: Julie Bresnan

February 26th, 2016 by Wendy Gibble

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When she’s not at her day job, you can usually find Julie Bresnan on the hunt for an elusive rare plant. Julie volunteers for the Rare Plant Care and Conservation program of the UW Botanic Gardens, collecting data on rare plant populations native to Washington and collecting seeds to add to the Miller Seed Vault in Seattle.

She began as a rare plant monitor in 2004 and trained as a seed collector in 2007. Since that time, she has traversed the state, taking on multiple monitoring and seed collecting assignments and contributing valuable information on the status of these rare native plants. If you’re into statistics, she has completed as many assignments as you can conscientiously collect seeds from a mousetail (a rare native plant) – about 60. When you consider that most volunteers successfully complete one assignment a year, the math is phenomenal.

Each year at the close of winter, Rare Care posts the list of monitoring assignments for volunteers to choose from for the coming season. Julie considers it a delectable gift if the list happens to be posted on her birthday. To Rare Care, and to her community, Julie is the gift.

Her adventurous spirit has taken her to many corners of the state. This past spring, you could find her wandering across the sand dunes to hunt down populations of gray cryptantha and collect seeds for a special project Rare Care carried out in partnership with the Bureau of Land Management. Twice she ventured into the moist, dappled shade of the Quinault rainforest to look for the endemic Quinault fawn-lily, navigating steep slopes and downed logs covered with slippery moss.

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And you know how people sometimes go out hoping to catch a glimpse of wildlife and see nothing but plants? Well, Julie bushwhacked with Rare Care’s program manager through riparian vegetation in search of the threatened – but nonthreatening – Wenatchee larkspur. And she ended up helping flush out a cougar hidden down in the dry creek channel.

In 2015, Julie was awarded the Brian Mulligan Award from the University of Washington Botanic Gardens for her outstanding volunteer contributions. Not one to rest on her laurels (not one to rest on any laurel, really), she has already signed up for seven assignments in 2016. Her passionate dedication to Washington’s rare native plants is making a long-lasting contribution to their conservation.

Rare Care Wraps up a Productive Year and Preps for 2014

January 10th, 2014 by Wendy Gibble
Rare plants

Washington’s rare plants monitored by Rare Care volunteers.

2013 was another busy year for Washington Rare Plant Care and Conservation (Rare Care). Our corps of volunteer citizen scientists contributed their expertise and time to monitor over 150 rare plant populations across Washington State. Some of these sites were visited during our annual monitoring weekend, which took place at Hanford Reach National Monument last year. We also added 20 collections to the Miller Seed Vault, including eight new species to the collection. You can read all about our 2013 monitoring and seed collecting efforts in our annual reports.

Rare Care will be offering a volunteer trainings on March 1, 2014 for our rare plant monitoring project. This citizen science project provides critically needed information on the status of Washington’s rare plants. Volunteers visit rare plant populations throughout the state and provide information on population sizes, habitat characteristics, and potential threats to the populations. Because many of these populations are visited once every decade or less, the data contributed by volunteer monitors are critical for long-term conservation of Washington’s rare plants.

Would you like to become a part of this valuable effort and have an opportunity to become familiar with some of the rare plants of Washington State? Volunteering with Rare Care provides an opportunity for you to explore Washington’s native flora, visit premier examples of Washington’s native ecosystems, and continue to build your plant identification skills. To participate in the program, volunteer rare plant monitors need to have some experience identifying native plants in the field, have a commitment to native plant conservation and good observation skills, be able to commit a few days during the spring and summer, and be able to provide their own transportation. Visit our volunteer page to learn more!

Grad student’s thesis work benefits rare plants

December 26th, 2012 by Wendy Gibble
Ivy Clark plants Castilleja seedlings (photo by Wendy Gibble)

Ivy Clark plants Castilleja seedlings (photo by Wendy Gibble)

Reprinted from the Rare Plant Press

Graduate student Lauren “Ivy” Clark has been knee deep in seeds ever since
she started her Master’s work at University of Washington. She first came to work with Rare Care in 2009 to develop protocols for propagating ten shrub-steppe species from seed for a project Rare Care was working on with BLM. Having developed an interest in germination ecology, Ivy also started working with Rare Care’s rare plant seed collection, conducting germination tests on collections held in the Miller Seed Vault. This ongoing work dovetails nicely with her thesis work, in which she explores the potential for hybridization between golden paintbrush (Castilleja levisecta) and harsh Indian paintbrush (C. hispida).

Both Castilleja species occur on Puget Sound prairies, and hybridization has been observed in a nursery setting. Recent golden paintbrush reintroductions have resulted in both species growing in close proximity to one another at out-planting sites. After ascertaining that the same pollinator species frequent both species, Ivy collected seeds from both species where they co-occur and is propagating them in the greenhouse. She will evaluate morphological features of the progeny to determine whether and to what extent hybridization is occurring at these reintroduction sites and whether the risk of hybridization is reduced by increasing the distance between neighboring individuals of the two species.

Ivy has had an interest in plants for as long as she can remember. Growing up in Texas, her interest in the natural world was nurtured by her parents. She’s held a variety of jobs since becoming a biologist, many of them restricting her to laboratories. Finding that she really enjoys being in the field, she hopes to use her skills and degree to work in the restoration ecology field. In the meantime, we are delighted to have her working on Rare Care projects and caring for our ex situ collection.

And the Winners Are…..Biodiversity Conference Art Exhibit up through March

March 19th, 2012 by Wendy Gibble

Paintbrush and Sedge illustration by Louise Smith

The winners of the botanical art exhibit  held in conjunction with the conference Conserving Plant Biodiversity in a Changing World: A View from NW North America were announced Wednesday afternoon at the close of the conference.  The winners are:

Botanical Illustration:
1st Place: Louise Smith for Paintbrush and Sedge
2nd Place: Daphne Morris for Carex macrocephala
3rd Place: Jan Hurd for Rosa nutkana

Photograph:
1st place: Daniel Mosquin for Castilleja applegatei var. pinetorum
2nd Place: Michael Hannam for Veratrum viride
3rd Place: Morgan Turner for Blechnum spicant

The exhibit is on display in the Elisabeth C. Miller Library at the UW Botanic Gardens through March 29th.

Registration opens for Conserving Biodiversity Conference Oct. 3

September 30th, 2011 by Wendy Gibble

DryasdrumondiiConserving Plant Biodiversity in a Changing World: A View from NW North America

University of Washington Botanic Gardens, Seattle, WA
March 13-14, 2012

We face an uncertain future – economically, politically, and climatically. Those concerned with managing, researching or protecting rare plants and their habitats need to be aware of these changes and have the necessary tools to effectively address them. We will have papers, both invited and contributed, that will engage all in a dialogue intended to raise questions and find solutions. Participants from throughout northwestern North America will contribute ideas and meet colleagues for future collaboration. More information at the conference website.

REGISTRATION OPENS OCTOBER 3, 2011.

Call for Abstracts Open until October 28th

 

 

Call for Abstracts: Conserving Plant Biodiversity

August 4th, 2011 by Wendy Gibble
 arctic alpine forget-me-not

Arctic alpine forget-me-not, Ertrichiumnanumvar elongatum

The University of Washington Botanic Gardens will be hosting a conference next March, on Conserving Plant Biodiversity in a Changing World: A View from NW North America. Complete  information is on the conference website, including program themes, sponsorship opportunities and a call for entries for a botanical art competition.

The call for abstracts will be open until October 28th.

Note that we define change as not just climate, but also economic and political change.