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The International Center for Tropical Botany and The Kampong of the National Tropical Botanical Garden, in collaboration with Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, and the Montgomery Botanical Center, will be offering a month-long, in-residence Tropical Botany course from May 20 – June 17, 2018. The course provides training in the taxonomy, phylogeny, diversity of structure, economic botany and conservation of tropical seed plants.

The unique experience that this course offers to professionals in the field of Tropical Botany has been, without question, an indispensable tool to botanists from across the globe since 1981- the year when it was first offered. Since then, the course has effectively trained over 300 of the world’s leading tropical botanists.

“After being in the course, I have been able to recognize more plant families in the field; I am able to explain to others reasons why plants are related. I think a better knowledge in plant systematics is crucial to perform better management of ecosystems,” writes an alumni of the course, Karen Beatriz Hernández from Mexico.

Attendees will have access to an extensive collection of tropical plant species to study, with instruction provided by experts in the field including Dr. Walter Judd, Distinguished Professor Emeritus in the Department of Biology at the University of Florida, Dr. Christopher Baraloto, Director of the International Center for Tropical Botany, and Dr. Lucas Majure from the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, Arizona.

Collectively, the botanical gardens where this course takes place have the largest living collections of tropical plants in the United States, making them ideal locations; with the course also involving several field trips to the Florida Everglades, the Florida Keys, and adjacent natural areas. The course is offered to both American and International botanists at a fee of $1800, in addition to dorm fees of $25 per day. FIU Tropics is currently raising scholarship funds for the course, with the goal of providing $25000 in aid to students- particularly to those who will be traveling from countries abroad. International students are critical in the commitment to making advancements in tropical botany, as one 1999 alumni writes:

Providing scholarships to international students is critical to maintain the cross-cultural and international focus of the course. [It] benefits all students by allowing [them] to forge new friendships and networks that can last a lifetime. Giving international students an opportunity to build their botany skills also strengthens scientific expertise in tropical countries, where we so desperately need botanists to work to collect, identify, standardize, describe and revise the many thousands of undescribed species,“ urges Dr. Paul Fine, a course alumnus.

The key to understanding and preserving the Tropics lies in the training provided to the men and women who dedicate their lives to both studying and protecting this region. Currently the only course of its kind in the U.S., Tropical Botany 2018 fulfills a global need. The course is currently accepting applications until March 18th.