I have some wonderful news to share with you! I recently received the 2013 Outstanding Terrestrial Invasive Species Volunteer of the Year Award from the National Invasive Species Council (NISC).
The NISC was created in 1999 and is co-chaired by the U.S. Secretaries of Interior, Agriculture, and Commerce. NISC provides coordination of federal invasive species actions and works with other federal and non-federal groups to address invasive species issues at the national level.
- U.S. Department of the Interior Press Release: Eight 2013 National Invasive Species Achievement Awards Announced
I am so honored to receive this award but it wouldn’t have been possible without the support of so many fantastic people:
- First, I want to thank my Mom and Dad who always support me in everything I do. They’re the best!
- I would also like to thank the National Invasive Species Council; Ms. Lori Williams, NISC Executive Director; and the entire National Invasive Species Awareness Week (NISAW) team. They were just great for inviting me to be a presenter at NISAW in 2012.
- Next, I want to thank the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center; Dr. Damon Waitt, Wildflower Center’s senior director; and Ms. Jessica Strickland, Wildflower Center’s invasive species program manager.
They taught me a lot about invasive species and have always been such a great support to me in my efforts to help educate others about invasives. They have also been very kind to invite me to be a presenter at numerous events at the Wildflower Center, including to the 2011 Texas Invasive Plant and Pest Conference.
And congratulations to the Wildflower Center, Dr. Waitt, and Ms. Strickland too for receiving the 2013 Outstanding Achievement in Terrestrial Invasive Species Outreach and Education Award from the NISC.
- Also, I would like to thank the Environmental Science Institute at the University of Texas; Dr. Jay Banner, Director; and Mr. Geoffrey Hensgen, Outreach Coordinator.
I started attending their Hot Science – Cool Talks lectures when I was only about six years old! They have been instrumental in developing my love of science, and they have been so supportive of giving me the amazing honor of being able to be part of the Hot Science – Cool Talks community by giving me the opportunity to interview many of the speakers and to also be a presenter at the pre-lecture activities, including bringing my Invasive Hunter Academy to Hot Science – Cool Talks
- Additionally, I want to give many thanks to Science Under the Stars; Brackenridge Field Laboratory at the University of Texas; and Ms. Laura Dugan, doctoral researcher, who gave me a chance to help out with their research on the invasive Jewel Cichlid.
My very first Commander Ben video, “Who will fell this titan?, won first prize at the Science Under the Stars 2011 Film Festival. In a way, that’s where my Commander Ben adventures first started!
- And I could never forget to thank Master Chris Abramson, my Taekwondo instructor, who is such an amazing teacher and mentor. Everything that I have learned from him has not only helped me battle invasives ;-), but has helped me in life. He has taught me the five most important tenants of what it means to be a man: Courtesy, Integrity, Self-Control, Perseverance, and Indomitable Spirit!
Many thanks to everyone!
2013 National Invasive Species Awareness Week
Unfortunately, the budget problems in Washington DC and the government sequester, cancelled the formal awards banquet that was part of the 2013 National Invasive Species Awareness Week (NISAW) activities, but here’s what Ms. Lori Faeth, the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy and International Affairs at the Department of the Interior, was going to say about my 2013 Outstanding Terrestrial Invasive Species Volunteer Award:
“The winner of the 2013 NISAW Award for Outstanding Terrestrial Invasive Species Volunteer is Ben Shrader, founder of the Invasive Hunter Academy in Texas. Ben has given invasive species presentations at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Texas and at National Invasive Species Awareness Week in Washington, DC. ‘Commander Ben’ has led efforts to engage students in invasive species issues through his Invasive Hunter Academy, using interactive methods to teach about invasive species and their effect on native ecosystems. He has used a wide variety of media to create a public discussion on invasive species and has produced a series of video interviews with scientists to publicize invasive species issues and research. Ben has also focused his efforts on conducting invasive species research, helping in the studying of the effect of the Jeweled Cichlid on native ecosystems at the University of Texas at Austin.”
Thanks Ms. Faeth for your kind words!
What’s next in the fight against invasives?
As always, I will continue my battle against invasive species! If you would like to be part of the fight against invasives, join me and my Invasive Hunter Academy and learn how to become an Invasive Hunter at the following upcoming events:
- Diagnosing Ourselves: Take Two Assays and Don’t Call Me in the Morning at UT Austin as part of the Hot Science – Cool Talks prelecture activities – April 4, 2013
- 4th Annual Milam County Nature Festival at the Rockdale Fair Park – April 13, 2013
- 2013 Earth Day Festival at St. Edward’s University – April 22, 2013
Hope to see you there!