Call for Applications
Volunteer Botanical Training Program

January–February 2021

Due to uncertainty surrounding the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic the Botanical Training Program will not run as usual in January and February 2021. We will be replacing the usual in-person program with a short, online program of presentations and projects, proposed to run over three weeks starting on Monday January 11th.

Interested participants should apply to Bronwyn Collins ( with the following:

  • a brief cover letter
  • a transcript of your academic record
  • a CV and a statement of particular interests or aptitudes that you consider relevant

Closing date for applications is Monday December 21st, 2020.

January–February 2020


Students of botany, plant ecology and related subjects are invited to apply for selection for the next annual Volunteer Botanical Training Program at the Australian National Herbarium and Centre for Australian National Biodiversity Research, Canberra (the Centre).

The Program is designed for students at the end of second or third year, although recent graduates are encouraged to apply. The Program is designed to be of benefit to those intending either professional of technical careers in biological science or plant conservation management.

Participants will assist staff of the Centre in scientific collections management and research support. In return, they will receive a broad spectrum of practical training in collections management, botany, plant conservation and job-seeking in the scientific workforce. Training sessions are conducted by professional scientists from the Centre and related institutions. Training complements rather than duplicates that given at tertiary level.

Duration of Program

The Program runs over several weeks during January and February each year. In 2020 the program will start on Thursday 2 January and finish on Friday 15 February.

Program Outline

Participants work at the Australian National Herbarium, Centre for Australian National Biodiversity Research, located at the adjoining Australian National Botanic Gardens and Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) sites in Canberra.

All participants undertake common training sessions. Many of the skills taught will have application in a range of specimen-based biological disciplines. Among other areas, you will be introduced to the major sources of information on identification and nomenclature of the Australian flora, and to the principles of curation of herbarium and other scientific collections.

The Program includes some field work, on which you will be taught skills in specimen selection and preservation, geocode determination, site assessment, field data recording, and permit and access protocols.

For work sessions, participants work in teams under staff supervision, helping with institutional tasks, including specimen preparation, plant identification, application of taxonomic concepts to herbarium collections and research assistance. We attempt to accommodate the interests of participants but allocation of tasks and team membership remains at our discretion.

Seminar and lecture sessions will address a range of theoretical and practical issues, including some major current taxonomic and conservation biology projects.

Specific training will be given in the preparation of posters and seminars, and in the development of CVs and job applications. Guidance will also be given for job-seeking in the scientific and conservation job markets.

Outcomes of the Program

The main benefit to you will be two months intensive experience in a mainstream scientific institution, plus specialised training that will help you in seeking employment. Detailed statements of accomplishment will be given at the end of the Program and work references will be available for the future.

Participants eligible to use this placement for course credits must make all the necessary arrangements with their institution. We supply supporting documentation only as needed and requested. Scope for projects required under course-credit arrangements will exist, although these must be negotiated with us and are essentially on your own time, not that of the Program.


A sample course outline is available to give you an idea of how the program is usually structured. General training topics overlap only partially with the routine assistance that participants will give to staff in the areas of curation and research. Some assignment work will be required on some of the training topics. You will not become expert in any one topic, but you will become acquainted with most or all of them in a practical and job-oriented way.

Conditions of Program

Participants will be selected on criteria of enthusiasm, ability to benefit from the Program, teamwork capabilities and academic achievement.

Placements are unpaid and financial support is not available. Accommodation assistance cannot be provided. However, details of possible accommodation options will be provided to successful applicants.

Participants work as registered volunteers under an arrangement that provides free ComCare insurance cover during working hours.

The Program runs five days per week.

Participants will work mostly in normal office hours, with longer days for field trips. Please note: you will require some time outside of normal work hours to complete the assignment work towards the end of the Program.

The Centre management reserves the right to terminate placements without notice.

How to Apply

Your application should include:

  • a brief cover letter,
  • a transcript of your academic record,
  • a CV and a statement of particular interests or aptitudes that you consider relevant,
  • names and contact details for one or two referees (including at least one academic), and approximate finishing date of your coming exams, and a contact telephone number (including for the period after exams).

When to Apply

  • Closing date for applications: Monday 18 November 2019   

  • Late applications may be accepted under some circumstances. Please contact Bronwyn Collins directly by phone or email if you wish to submit a late application.

Applications should be directed to:

Bronwyn Collins


Volunteer Botanical Training Program
Australian National Herbarium
GPO Box 1700

Enquiries should be directed to:

Bronwyn Collins
Telephone: (02) 6246 5133
Facsimile: (02) 6246 5249


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