Asimina is Evaluation Manager at teh Heritage Lottery Fund, recently moved from Head of Education at Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI).
How long have you been working with plants and the natural world?
My passion for plants started during my work for the Balkan Botanic Garden of Kroussia in Greece back in 2004 when I got employed to build the Learning Programme of that newly established botanic garden. Since then I haven’t stopped working with and for plants.
Why is helping to connect people and plants important to you?
Considering that there is a coined term for ‘plant blindeness’, defined as people’s inability to see or notice plants in their own environment (Wandersee and Schussler, 1999), I consider helping to connect people and plants a challenge. And I love challenges!
Tell us about a project you’re really proud to have been involved in.
My work at the Greek botanic garden has inspired me to do a PhD on how people learn when they visit botanic gardens. As a result I moved in the UK and did an ethnographic case study research on how Wakehurst Place, Kew collaborates with local primary schools and how students learn about the environment. My PhD has been the most difficult project to embark on so far but the most rewarding in terms of getting to know first-hand the inspirational learning programme of Wakehurst and its people, living in the garden for over 7 months and learning how to do research to improve informal education practice.
Finally, what is your favourite plant?
This is a very easy question for me. I couldn’t choose anything but Asimina triloba, the species I am sharing the same name with. Not to mention that pawpaw (its common name) is also a yummy fruit. My colleagues from the botanic garden in Trento, Italy has given me the seeds of the plant and now I am trying to convince my dad to grow the tree in his olive grove in Greece.
Wandersee, J.H. and Schussler, E.E. (1999). Preventing plant blindness. American Biology Teacher, 61, 82,84,86.