May 30, 2013 – article by Chris.Evans@Illinois.gov, 618-435-8138 x131
photos by John Wilker, IDNR
photos by John Wilker, IDNR
The Illinois Invasive Species Awareness Month Committee would like to recognize the recipients of the 2012 ISAM Awards, for their outstanding contributions to the prevention, control, and management of invasive species in the state of Illinois. Illinois Invasive Species Awareness Month (ISAM) started in 2010 as a means of coordinating events across the state to increase the public’s awareness and knowledge about invasive species in Illinois. This year, over 80 events are being held across the state as part of ISAM. In 2011, the ISAM committee decided to initiate an awards program to formally recognize and honor excellence in invasive species work in Illinois. Recipients in three categories (Professional, Professional Organization, and Volunteer) were officially recognized in May of 2012.
For 2012, two additional categories are being added: Business and Special Recognition Project. Like the previous award categories the Business award goes to one person or group. However, the Special Recognition Project category can be given to multiple projects. Recipients of the 2012 ISAM awards were officially recognized at an event in Springfield on May 29, 2013 at 1pm at the IDNR office. IDNR Office of Resource Conservation Director Jim Herkert was on hand to present the awards.
This year’s recipients are:
Professional of the Year – Alice Brandon, Friends of the Forest Preserves
Alice is receiving this award for her leadership in the development and operation of the Calumet Conservation Corps. This is an innovative program that utilizes local youth through involvement in the Student Conservation Association to control invasive species in remnant natural areas within the Southern Lake Michigan Watershed. Not only does this project benefit the region through controlling invasive species, but it also provides the crew members with valuable work skills. “Alice’s hard work and innovative thinking has led this program to thrive and it can serve as a model for other regions”, says Chris Evans, Illinois Invasive Species Campaign Coordinator, “This type of out of the box thinking is what we need to address the big problem of invasive species in Illinois.”
Professional Organization of the Year – Shawnee Resource Conservation and Development Area, Inc.
The Shawnee RC&D is receiving this award for their leadership in invasive species work in Illinois and their support of the River to River Cooperative Weed Management Area, the Illinois Wildlife Action Plan, and Invasive Species Awareness Month. The Shawnee RC&D partnered with 11 other agencies and organizations to form the River to River CWMA and took on a leadership role within the partnership by serving as the fiscal manager and housing the CWMA coordinator. The RC&D’s support of the CWMA has been crucial to its success. In addition, the RC&D is supporting efforts to implement the Illinois Wildlife Action Plan through housing the Invasive Species Campaign coordinator and the Southern Illinois Conservation opportunity Area coordinator.
“The Shawnee RC&D, despite being a small local non-profit, has played a major role in regional and now, state-wide coordination of invasive species issues”, says Jody Shimp, regional administrator for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, “This organization has been committed to managing large grants and staff dedicated to addressing the many challenges that invasive species pose to our lands. “
Volunteer of the Year – Frederick Law Olmsted Society
The Frederick Law Olmsted Society of Riverside is receiving this award for their leadership in invasive species education and management within the Riverside, Illinois region. The FLOS society has organized workdays to remove invasive species and plant natives through the natural lands of Riverside, involving hundreds of volunteers donating countless hours towards these important stewardship activities. In addition, the FLOS trained volunteers in prescribed fire techniques and took the lead in donations and fund raising for stewardship. Their efforts helped increase the awareness within the community and the quality of land stewardship with the Riverside Region.
Business of the Year – Possibility Place Nursery
Possibility Place Nursery, owned and operated by Connor Shaw, is receiving this award for their leadership in conservation through their efforts to provide access to and raise awareness about native plants within the region. Landscaping and horticulture are major pathways for the spread of invasive species and promoting native plants not only reduces this pathway, but also provides better habitat for native wildlife and garners appreciation of native species within the public. “Mr. Shaw has been on the forefront of the movement to use locally grown plants that are already adapted to the northern Illinois region and has helped make many regional restoration projects a success.” says Cathy McGlynn, Coordinator of the Northeast Illinois Invasive Plant Partnership.
Debbie Maurer, Assistant Manager of Natural Resources for the Lake County Forest Preserve District, adds "Connor is a true pleasure to work with. His knowledge of the propagation of our native trees and shrubs is an outstanding resource to the region and his passion for native plants and restoration is genuine and contagious. I always look forward to asking him questions or bouncing ideas off him when our paths cross. Connor's success is a result of not only his professional knowledge and drive to produce high quality plant material, but in his sincere kindness, ever-present humor, and life-long curiosity of nature."
Special Recognition Projects
This year four projects were chosen as recipients for Special Recognition.
|Representatives from the four projects receiving special recognition received certificates during the ceremony|
Conservation@Home - The Conservation@Home project, administered by Conserve Lake County, is receiving this recognition for the project’s accomplishments in educating and assisting private landowners in Lake County on invasive species identification and control. The vast majority of Illinois’ natural lands are in private ownership and these lands are crucial to conservation. Conserve Lake County’s approach to assisting private landowners through Conservation@Home is an effective project to engage and assist landowners in Northeast Illinois.
Garlic Mustard School Competitions - The Garlic Mustard School Competitions project, administered by Green Earth Inc., is receiving this recognition for the project’s accomplishments in educating school children within the Carbondale area about the threat of invasive species and providing a venue for these children to contribute to local conservation. Through the competition school children learn about invasive species from presentations by biologists visiting their schools and visits to local Green Earth Property to help control Garlic Mustard and compete with other classes to see which group can pull the most.
"Green Earth provides valuable opportunities for the citizens of Carbondale to interact with and learn about nature. One of Green Earth’s most influential and fun educational events is the annual Garlic Mustard Challenge program for local school groups,” says Karla Gage, coordinator of the River to River Cooperative Weed Management Area, “Children are our future land stewards, and it is particularly important for them to be able to identify invasive species and understand why invasives are harmful. The site where the event is held has a rich diversity of spring ephemeral native plants, further helping to show the children what plants do and do not belong in our native ecosystem – and the potential consequences of invasive species."
1st Detector’s Training Program - The 1st Detector’s Training Program, administered by the University of Illinois and the Illinois CAPS program, is receiving this recognition for their accomplishments in statewide education for forest invasive species and development of an early detection program for new forest invaders. Early detection of new invasive species allows for natural resource managers to respond quickly and control, contain, or eradicate new populations before they are widespread and damaging. “The 1st Detector’s Training Program is one of the most effective statewide Early Detection Programs I’ve seen implemented” says Chris Evans, “This project was much needed and positions Illinois to be better able to address any new forest invasives that may sneak into our state.”
Calumet Conservation Corps - The Calumet Conservation Corps project, administered by the Friends of the Forest Preserves, is receiving this recognition because of the project’s efforts to restore natural areas in the Calumet region: Eggers Woods, Beaubien Woods, Dolton Prairie, and Kickapoo. The Corps consists of five members from diverse communities in Calumet : Brian Mann, Brenda Elmore, Tyrone Mudro, Jessica Rosenthal, and Xochitl Lopez. They have controlled 60 acres of woody invasive plants and detected and eradicated another 228 acres of invasive plants that are new to the Chicago region.
“We’d like to thank the program for providing communities in the Calumet region with new opportunities to spend time outdoors as well as giving native plants and animals a second chance to use their native habitats.”, says Cathy McGlynn.
For more information on invasive species in Illinois or Illinois Invasive Species Awareness Month, be sure to check out the ISAM website at www.illinoisinvasives.org.