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Invader Crusader nominations now open

February 21, 2020 by Beckie Gaskill

The annual Invader Crusader Awards are coming soon with applications being accepted. The deadline to nominate someone is Monday, March 23. The awards honor those who contribute to the prevention, control and eradication of invasive species and look to protect Wisconsin’s wetlands, waters and lands from invasive species. 

The honor comes from the Wisconsin Invasive Species Council, but nominators and nominees come from throughout the state. Both individuals and groups can be nominated for the award.

Invader Crusaders are grouped into four categories: Professional Individuals, Professional Groups, Volunteer Individuals and Volunteer Groups. 

Last year’s winners included Emily Heald, the water program coordinator at North Lakeland Discovery Center in Manitowish Waters. Heald was recognized for her work with the land and river protection programs in Vilas County townships. Her creative approaches, including her “Float Your Boat” trivia contest, also contributed to her winning nomination. This contest was a place-based fun event where contestants play from a pontoon boat. The award also made mention of her purple loosestrife project, engaging students in projects aimed at control of that invasive species using beetles that feast on those plants through all stages of their lifecycle.

Rod Sharka was also recognized as a 2019 Invader Crusader. He is the volunteer land manager for the Tenderfoot Reserve. Sharka has had a mission to eradicate honeysuckle from that property and has so far been successful on most of the over 900 acres of the property. He has also worked with the Natural Lakes landowner group to help them manage the honeysuckle in their lands. He worked to train a group to survey, map and manage those stands of honeysuckle and to restore native habitats, a mission close to Sharka’s heart.

Professional groups included the Aldo Leopold Foundation. The Foundation was recognized for establishing and maintaining the Leopold-Pine Island Important Bird Area. Those involved use native management techniques to create critical habitat for 24 high priority bird species in the area. DATCP’s nursery inspector team also received the award in the professional group category, as did the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, while the volunteer group category highlighted groups such as the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration. More information on past awards can be found on the Wisconsin Invasive Species Council website.

A nomination form for 2020 awards can be downloaded from the Wisconsin Invasive Species Council website, as well: invasivespeciesd.wi.gov. Those looking to nominate an individual or group should download the blank form, save it to their computer, then fill it out. It is important to save it to a computer then fill it out, or it will not be saved. Once the form is filled out, it can be emailed to [email protected] Alternatively, the form can be printed, filled out by hand, then scanned back into the computer and emailed. Those without computer access are asked to contact Tara Bergeson at 608-264-6043. Winners and nominators will be notified by late April and invited to attend the awards ceremony, which will be in June in Madison.

Beckie Gaskill may be reached via email at [email protected].

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