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How to Become a Botanist

This is an image of a man and a woman inspecting a plant; the man being the botanist. It is rather strange that we are often told that we must have a dream first to reach a goal. Surprisingly, what we end up in life later on from our most early years of wishes and dreams may not be as expected. I was always good in Mathematics. Scoring 96% in High School goes to show that I had a very good command over the subject. And yes, I also loved the subject. I still love puzzles and math tricks or spending hours working on Sudoku puzzles, but I wanted to be a doctor and a writer.

Medicine never happened when it came to those college years. I was granted admission for the Math, Physics and Chemistry stream. I still remember how unhappy I was about the choice and reappeared for the next set of admissions to join in for Biology, Physics and Chemistry instead. Deep down, despite the fact that I was very good in Math, I longed to study Biology. Five years later I graduated in Botany with Zoology and Chemistry as my subsidiary subjects and I have never regretted that choice.

A Botanist never happens overnight. It is part of who you are; part of your identity. When we are young we want to be that astronaut who explores into space or we want to be that Florence Nightingale who goes about tending to the sick and making people feel better. Yes, dreams help build us up as unique individuals, but there is always a part tucked away in some remote area of our being that takes form slowly and grows unconsciously. You might never know it is there unless you are challenged with the alternative, like I was, when I obtained admission to take up Math, but when it surfaces, it brings out the real you.

What Or Who Is A Botanist?

A botanist is one who loves every aspect of the plant world and delves in and digs in for the secrets that Kingdom Plantae has to offer. It is one who specializes in the overall study of plants. Botany is a specialized branch of science which is systematic, organized and grounded on solid scientific rules of study. It is much more than just calling plants by their Latin names, but it is the study of science that also involves the Genetics of plants, Plant Physiology, Pathology, Morphology, Anatomy and Economic and Medicinal Botany in addition to Taxonomy. It is a mix of the plant world both outdoors and in laboratories.

Identify the Botanist in You

Most often early discoveries of our interests play a major part in defining our careers in later years. Identifying the stream of knowledge that bests suits us goes a long way into preparing us to become the *experts* that we dream of becoming. Identification of interests could also lead to new dreams and successful achievements.

Until the time you finish High School, many programs, events and competitions could indicate and awaken an interest which is a key factor that indicates what you like to do apart from what you can do. I did not suffer from stage fright. I could sing and dance when on stage, or give that spontaneous speech when others could not, but I could never do the catwalk. Rather, I loved to dig my fingers into the soil looking for earthworms or playing with the tadpoles in the little stream of water or spending time gardening with my friend next door; filling those new pots with mud or watering the plants.

Today we hear a lot of new subject names. I had never really heard about Robotics as a kid, or was not familiar with that term until my brother took it up as his line of study for post graduation. Likewise, today we hear of a lot of *subject names* and it gets us wondering who or what these people are. Nonetheless, basic science subjects stem from combinations of Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry with or without Biology. To be a botanist, your study during those early school years should be strongly based on these four subjects.

College years indicate the career paths that you are likely to follow. Involvement in all possible classes is a must. Many dread those lab days when we have to end up drawing so many record sheets. I remember I used to do close to 200 sheets of record drawings in a week when I totaled my 36 sheets plus that of my friends' who struggled to keep up. However, focus on your subject. Get as interactive as possible with additional projects, activities, competitions and community projects.

One of the most active groups during my college years was the Rotary Club Green House Project, a month long project that was conducted by the Rotary Club and totally sponsored by them. We had to grow as many plants as possible and that had to include a certain number of plant families, certain number of medicinal plants and also come up with innovative ways to incorporate Botany and Ecology. There was the outdoor garden space for each team and also indoor project space to display our still and working models, food preparations, and artistic hand work using plant products including charts and audio-visual displays.

Being a botanist will involve those outdoor field trips in search of specific plants for a particular plant family study. It would involve the making of a herbarium which can become a hobby in itself. Botany doesn't necessarily mean being a book worm or being a geek, but it is one that mixes hands-on experience with in depth book knowledge. It would mean getting your hands mucky and your face dirty from heat and sweat or spending hours at your microscope. It also means you become an authoritative individual in your line of work or an expert in one or more branches of plant study.

Looking back, it might be even right when they say that we must first have a dream to reach a goal. I might have termed my dream *medicine* rather than life science. But the end result of what I am right now is a right mix of Biology and Writing. Now isn't that a funny twist of fate when you look at it? I have become a Botanist and a Writer in the making. Yes, this is what I dreamed about.

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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