Spotlight on Christine McElroy

As the lead of the refuge plant inventory project, I would like to formally acknowledge the important contribution that Christine McElroy has made and is making with restoring voucher specimens in the Patuxent Research Refuge Herbarium. The positive impact of her work cannot be overstated.

Christine has faithfully come to the North Tract Visitors Contact Station almost every Wednesday afternoon since 2017 to repair the specimens and the specimen sheets. Some of the specimens have become loose and detached from their specimen sheets. She has repaired hundreds of these specimens by re-attaching them more firmly to the specimen sheets. This will ensure that the specimens will remain intact for many years to come.

She has also replaced several dozens of older specimen sheet labels which were starting to deteriorate because they are made of acidic non-archival paper. Replacing the labels is done by carefully taking off the old labels from the voucher sheets, photocopying the label’s images to acid-free archival paper, and attaching the new labels to the sheets. Since the new labels are photocopies of the originals, no pertinent collection information is lost. The old labels are filed separately so they are not lost. Replacing the older non-archival paper labels with newer acid-free archival paper labels will increase the durability of the labels. By repairing the specimens and replacing the labels, Christine is increasing the longevity of the specimens and is making the herbarium a more valuable resource for future researchers.

Christine deserves the recognition for her fine work, attention to detail, and devotion to making a good herbarium even better.

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