Now that the calendars have turned to May, it is time to welcome everyone to Illinois Invasive Species Awareness Month. This is the sixth year now for ISAM in Illinois and it only continues to grow. That first year (2010) a total of 70 events were held. This year, we have over 160 events on the calendar with more still being added!
Now that ISAM is becoming an established tradition in Illinois, this is a good time to look back at some of the history of Invasive Species Awareness Month, the effort and groups involved in getting it started, and the types of events held as part of ISAM.
The idea of Illinois Invasive Species Awareness Month was developed by the River to River CWMA steering committee in 2009. Originally ISAM was going to be only a southern Illinois initiative (since that is the area covered by River to River CWMA), but the idea was brought to the Illinois Invasive Plant Species Council in the fall of 2010 and was met with enthusiasm to take it statewide.
Support letters were written, a website, blog, and Facebook page created and we were off to the races!
May was chosen as the perfect month for ISAM for two reasons, 1. it fit throughout the state as a month that volunteer workdays are happening (in particular garlic mustard pulls) and 2. school is still in session and the group wanted to make sure school classes had an opportunity to participate.
Through six years of Invasive Species Awareness Month, we've accumulated quite impressive statistics. Below are some highlights of ISAM, by the numbers.
ISAM by the numbers:
2010 - First year for ISAM
66,036 - Number of pageviews the ISAM blog (http://illinoisisam.blogspot.com/) has received since it came online on April 21, 2010
569 - total number of events held over the six years of ISAM
('10 - 70, '11 - 64, '12 - 64, '13 - 84, '14 - 123, '15 - 164)
110 - People signed up to attend this year's Illinois Invasive Species Symposium
41 - Number of Great Garlic Mustard Event volunteer workdays planned by the East Central Illinois Invasive Plant Taskforce over the last two years
35 - Organizations that submitted letters of support for the initial establishment of Illinois Invasive Species Awareness Month
21 - Individuals, organizations or projects that have received an Illinois Invasive Species Award