While writing my application for the Borlaug Fellowship, all I had in mind was my project and of course, forming long-lasting professional relationship with my mentor and other people on the fellowship. Turns out the Fellowship is a full package which promises to give me a range of first experiences – one of which is a chance to participate in the 42nd Smith Foray from 5th – 7th October 2018.
The Foray was hosted by Dr. Harold H. Burdsall Jr and was attended by 68 attendees who were mycologists and students from various institutions both within and outside the United States. Attendees from the US were from the Great Lakes Region. The high attendance created more room for networking. The travel to Hoofbeat Ridge Camps at Mazomanie, Wisconsin allowed me to see other parts of the US.
Days were mostly spent collecting mushroom fungal samples in various forests located quite proximal to the Camp site and evenings were spent on specimen study, during which participants practiced various mycological techniques such as microscopy, keying of specimen, macro- and micro- morphology assessment for identification/classification, specimen preservation, etc. The mycoflora at the sites were quite diverse and included species of Polypores, Hydnoid fungi, Amanita, Russula, Boletes, and jelly fungi (to name a few). Most of the species found were wood-inhabiting although some were dwelling on decaying plant materials on the soil. There were a mix of mycorrhizal, parasitic and saprotrophic species.
Socialization occurred during meal times, specimen collection and study times, and short informal ‘touristic’ events. On the whole, the foray was worthy and memorable experience. I am looking forward to all the other activities to explore during my Borlaug fellowship. Meanwhile, I will be sad to miss the 2019 Smith Foray, which will be hosted by the Bonito Lab in Michigan.