Friday, September 8 marked the first session of Lotus University (Lotus U), a series of botany training sessions led by Andrea Finn, P.W.S., Senior Project Manager at Lotus Environmental Consulting. Andrea launched this initiative to educate the other Lotus staff members in her botanical and wetland expertise. She has over 25 years of experience in wetland delineation and mitigation, and her expertise extends far into both the public and private sectors.
Andrea has been a certified Professional Wetland Scientist since 1998. “I will be submitting my qualifications for recertification of my Professional Wetland Scientist designation,” Andrea explained. “And I thought that I could use my teaching skills as a scientist to train our staff in plant identification and provide some extra credit hours that I could apply towards that recertification.”
As some of the best-preserved grasslands in the Philadelphia area are located about 5 miles from the Lotus office, in Valley Forge National Park, Andrea and a few other members of our staff ventured out in the field to collect and examine samples of wildflowers and wild grasses. With the upcoming fall season, she decided to put the group’s focus on native grasses and wildflowers so that they could be more easily identified while working in the field.
Using plant keys and identification guides such as Lauren Brown’s Grasses, our environmental scientists were able to identify each of the 6 samples of grasses they had found in the grasslands at Valley Forge. While Andrea is conducting these training sessions with Lotus Environmental staff only, she wants to one day extend this program into the community, with the hopes of educating others about plants and their native environments.
The Lotus U Botany Training Series will continue into the fall of 2017, featuring Goldenrods and Asters, as well as a Winter session in early 2018 focusing on trees and shrubs and hardy perennial herbs.