Spring finally feels like it's on its way - the weather is warming up, the songbirds are back, and the garlic mustard is showing its green little leaves. On April 10th, we'll be kicking off our 2013 Garlic Mustard Challenge with this webcast. We'll cover a bit of the science behind the plant, and then we'll be joined by people leading the charge against this invasive in different places around Michigan! We'll hear about their work and success protecting the special places where they live. Tune in, and get pumped up for the 2013 Challenge!
Jon Throop - Invasive Species Land Steward, Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy (in for Abby Gartland).
Heather Huffstutler - Heather has a B.S. in Biology from Eastern Michigan University and holds a secondary education teaching certificate. Her career in conservation began as a volunteer in Northern Michigan for The Nature Conservancy and she's been hooked ever since. She has worked all over the country, landing back home in Michigan 6 years ago. As Stewardship Director at Six Rivers Regional Land Conservancy, Heather oversees all aspects of the Conservancy's Stewardship Program, including planning for ecosystem restoration, writing management plans, managing grant projects, and leading the Conservancy's strategic conservation planning efforts. She facilitates the Stewardship Network Headwaters Cluster and it's current work to engage landowners in battling swallowwort in northwestern Oakland County.
Joan Meyer - Mary Jane Dockery was instrumental in starting Blandford Nature Center in Grand Rapids. About 20 years ago she led a wildflower walk through Aman Park and casually pointed out some garlic mustard growing alongside the trail. She mentioned that in about 10 years there would no longer be wild flowers there but garlic mustard instead. At that time I remember thinking and saying "Not while there is breath in my body!" So, I began. My friend and I walked our dogs through the park every day and began pulling the garlic mustard. Those little walks morphed into Garlic Mustard Pulls involving Master Gardeners, Master Naturalists, volunteers, friends, neighbors, Audubon Society members, Grand Rapids Parks Department and anyone willing to spend some time. I placed descriptive signs throughout the park with pictures of garlic mustard, a little about the nastiness of the invasive weed and encouraged people to pull. It's fun to walk through and find garbage bags of the stuff along the trails and know that people are helping. My husband is assigned the job of taking our wheelbarrow through the park and collecting the bags for counting and disposal. The GR Parks Department (though the park is in Ottawa County, it is owned by the GR Parks Department) picks up the bags and takes them to the incinerator. When I talk to people I encourage them to designate one small area of the park "theirs." It is then their responsibility to return year after year to make sure their spot stays garlic mustard free. How very, very encouraging to find areas that were filled with the weed, now garlic mustard free and producing all manner of Michigan wild flowers. Aman Park has been identified as the park in Michigan with the most diversity and quantity of wild flowers and I am so proud of her! Jacob Aman, who donated the park to us in 1926, is buried there and I talk to him frequently, thanking him for donating the park to "the recipients of his bounty" and promising him we will continue the fight against garlic mustard!
Lisa Brush - Executive Director, The Stewardship Network. Lisa has worked in the environmental field in Michigan for the last fifteen years. She is currently the Executive Director of the Stewardship Network and has been involved with the Network since its inception more than 10 years ago. She has a wealth of experience helping non-scientific people understand scientific issues. For over nine years, as she has built and coordinated The Stewardship Network, she has emphasized effective and meaningful stakeholder involvement in developing and implementing all aspects of this program. She has a M.S. in Natural Resources from the University of Michigan and a B.A. (Science in Society) from Wesleyan University.