The National Plant Monitoring Scheme is lucky enough to have a team of regional volunteer mentors. These are experienced surveyors and botanists that have volunteered to support fellow survey volunteers both locally and nationally.
Image: Dr Oli Pescott and volunteers at Arne reserve QA event
When it comes to our volunteers looking to get in touch with a mentor, they can do this through accessing our mentors contact directory, provided on the resources page of the NPMS website here. Within the directory volunteers can find the contact name, an email address for that person and a list of areas in which that mentor feels confident and happy to advise or help with, depending on their strengths and of course availability. These include:
Regional Volunteer meet ups
And for some - Developing a local network/community of volunteers, something we are increasingly seeing a demand for both online and on the ground.
Ever since the initial development of the NPMS, we have undertaken regular reviews by requesting feedback and experiences from our all-important volunteers, both surveyors and mentors. A part of this is considering how we can develop our volunteer community, an area we are keen to continue evolving.
We find there is often a desire for connection to local volunteers and therefore support in facilitating local links, including with mentors. Informal field events and opportunities to get out on the ground with like-minded volunteers for support and comradery can also be beneficial. Buddying opportunities are becoming more popular, where volunteers are interested in teaming up to survey sites. We are also seeing more online sharing of experiences and advice.
So you can imagine, with the positive effects of shared experience, shared learning and guidance, the huge value of regional mentors. Please do reach out to your nearest mentor to introduce yourself if you have any queries or are looking for some friendly guidance.
Image: Louise Marsh, Snowdonia Society training
Think you may be interested in becoming a mentor with us?
We know mentors can be hugely valuable to our wider group of volunteers, but what motivates mentors to take on this role? We find that motivations of course vary from person to person.
Some enjoy the contact and relationship building with like-minded volunteers with similar interests.
Others take real satisfaction and fulfilment in supporting other dedicated volunteers and feeling part of a team working towards a common goal.
For some it is a further opportunity to get out in the field and discover new places and practice their botany.
Conversely for others, they do not have the means or are no longer able to get out in the field, and this presents a way of taking part in the scheme, using their skills and continuing their hobby or interest, in a desk-based role.
Some enjoy the opportunity to share their skills and experience, and indeed, in return use the opportunity for their own personal development.
There are varied activities and means of taking part. Which of these any mentor choses to be involved with is of course dependent on their interests, motivations and time availability. You can just let us know which you are keen to get involved with and again if this changes at all. Mentors can support in any roles they feel happiest and most suited to, whether desk based, in the field or indeed both.
Examples of desk-based roles include proving regional email and telephone support on areas such as general methodology i.e. plot set-up, species ID, habitat ID. Also Acting as a contributor on the NPMS Support Facebook group, responding to queries or encouraging conversation and sharing.
There are also a number of ways our mentors can be active and offer support in-field, of course with the support of the NPMS team helping to facilitate. These are region and mentor dependent and include regional group meets such as Walks, Square/plot visits with volunteers, season reviews and get togethers, even socials. These are just a few and you may have ideas of your own, which we'd love to hear. All of these are course supported and facilitated by the NPMS team but with mentors taking the lead.
You can view a full webinar recording discussing NPMS mentor opportunities and how we support these on our YouTube channel here.
If you decide that you would like to become a volunteer mentor with us and offer support with any of these activities, please do email firstname.lastname@example.org and we can arrange an call to discuss your interest and availability, along with how to proceed in setting you up as an NPMS mentor with us.