Category Archives: National Invasive Species Awareness Week

USDA Celebrates Commander Ben and His Invasive Hunter Academy

Thanks, Ms. Kelsey Branch, APHIS Biologist, for the fantastic blog post, “Meet USDA’s Youngest Ally in the Fight against Invasive Species: Ben Shrader, Invasive Hunter”

I had a great time with Ms. Branch in Washington D.C. during National Invasive Species Awareness Week (NISAW) from February 26 to March 2, 2012, and during NISAW Kids’ day at the U.S. Botanic Garden, I enjoyed teaching kids about invasive species as part of my Invasive Hunter Academy.

It’ll take more than a day or week to take down these invasive species, so the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has declared April as Invasive Plant Pest and Disease Awareness Month.

Learn more about invasive species:

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Filed under 2011 Texas Invasive Plant Conference, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, APHIS, Hungry Pests, Invasive Hunter Academy, Ms. Kelsey Branch, National Invasive Species Awareness Week, NISAW, Texas Invasives, U.S. Botanic Garden, United States Department of Agriculture, USDA

The Unstoppable, Invasive Bastard Cabbage

Commander Ben gives Bastard Cabbage the business

There has been A LOT of interest in Bastard Cabbage (Rapistrum rugosum) lately.

If you travel along the roads in Central Texas and you don’t know about invasive species, you might think that the Bastard Cabbage is a nice, big wildflower on the roadsides. It’s not. It’s a terrible invasive plant that causes havoc by overrunning and towering over all the Texas wildflowers. The seedlings of the native plants don’t get light, and they die or can’t sprout and the Bastard Cabbage takes over, creating a monoculture.

Once you know what the plant looks like, you’ll see it everywhere. Instead of beautiful reds, blues, and other colors from our diverse native wildflowers, you’ll just see a suffocating blanket of yellow mustard colored flowers.

Is it unstoppable?

Dr. Damon Waitt, Senior Director and Botanist at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, had a popular interview with Mr. Jim Swift on KXAN TV last month, and during the interview, Dr. Waitt said that he was very worried that it would take over Texas roadsides and fields and overwhelm the native species.

His interview inspired me to learn more about this terrible invasive, and I wrote a blog post about it, “Bastard Cabbage Fouls Texas Bluebonnets“. I’m amazed and happy to see the heavy web traffic that I’ve received from this post. It’s great that everyone wants to learn more about this invasive plant!

Learn more about Texas invasives with the iWire newsletter

The March issue of the iWire newsletter also talks about this invasive plant with their “Hello Bastard Cabbage. Goodbye Bluebonnets.” article. You can learn what you can do to help get rid of Bastard Cabbage too.

And thank you iWire for talking about my “Invasive Hunter Academy” for Kids’ Day during National Invasive Species Awareness Week in Washington D.C. in your March 2012 and February 2012 issues!

The February issue also introduces, Ms. Jessica Strickland, the new the Invasive Species Program Coordinator at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. I was happy to meet her over Spring break. She was very nice and welcoming to me, but the invasive species better watch out!

If you don’t already get iWire, I encourage you to subscribe to this monthly e-newsletter to learn the latest news about invasive plants and pests in Texas each month.

Commander Ben…signing off

Update: See Native Plant Avengers – Ecosystem’s Mightiest Heroes – battle Bastard Cabbage

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Filed under Bastard Cabbage, Damon Waitt, Invasive Hunter Academy, iWire Texas Invasives Newsletter, Jessica Strickland, KXAN, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, National Invasive Species Awareness Week, Texas Invasives

Commander Ben Leads Young Invasive Hunters during National Invasive Species Awareness Week

Learn how future invasive hunters trained at Commander Ben’s Invasive Hunter Academy at Kid’s Day during National Invasive Species Awareness Week (NISAW) at the U.S. Botanic Garden in Washington D.C. With this video, watch their journey from novice naturalists to elite defenders of native species.

This is my first of a series of articles talking about my adventures in Washington D.C. during National Invasive Species Awareness Week. Check out my preview video for the Invasive Hunter Academy before the Washington D.C. event.


Thank you Ms. Lori Williams, National Invasive Species Council (NIISC) Executive Director, and Ms. Kelsey Branch, USDA Biologist and Kid’s Day coordinator, for inviting me to be part of this fun and exciting Kid’s Day! And thank you Dr. Damon Waitt, Senior Director and Botanist with the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, for all your kind words and encouragement!

Your friend,
Ben

Update: USDA Celebrates Commander Ben and His Invasive Hunter Academy

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Filed under Battles with Invasive Species, Damon Waitt, Invasive Hunter Academy, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, National Invasive Species Awareness Week, U.S. Botanic Garden

Lots of Fun coming to Kid’s Day during National Invasive Species Awareness Week

Kids’ Day will be here in two weeks! Woo hoo! It’s a great way for kids (of all ages!) to learn about invasives species as part of National Invasive Species Awareness Week.

***View the Kids’ Day agenda to find out who’ll be there***

I’ve been working on my Kids’ Day presentation and activity, “Invasive Hunter Academy”. I do Tae Kuan Do, as you may see from my videos, and I was sparring on Friday. That is when you put on gear, similar to football gear, except softer and no face guard.

During the sparring match, I got kicked in my hand when I was doing a narabam spinning hook kick combination. Ouch that hurt and it swelled up a little. I’m doing better now, but I’d better watch out, because that’s when the invasives may try to ambush me. 😉

I hope to see you at Kids’ Day! It’s going to be a lot of fun!

Commander Ben signing off…

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Filed under National Invasive Species Awareness Week, Tae Kwon Do

Invasive Hunter Academy launches during National Invasive Species Awareness Week

Learn how to become an invasive species hunter at Commander Ben’s Invasive Hunter Academy at Kid’s Day during National Invasive Species Awareness Week (NISAW) in Washington D.C.  With this video, get a preview of some of the techniques that I’ll teach you.

Join me as an elite defender of native species, and learn more about NISAW and Kid’s Day at the U.S. Botanic Garden on February 26, 2012.

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Filed under Battles with Invasive Species, Giant Reed, Invasive Hunter Academy, National Invasive Species Awareness Week, U.S. Botanic Garden

Commander Ben Invited to National Invasive Species Awareness Week

I have great news! I was invited to talk about invasive species during National Invasive Species Awareness Week (NISAW) from February 26 – March 3, 2012 in Washington, DC. Wow! What an honor to be invited to our nation’s capital!!!!

I’m going to bring my Invasive Hunter Academy to NISAW Kids’ Day at the U.S. Botanic Garden on Sunday, February 26th. I’m going to train kids with fun activities to teach them how to be an invasive hunter.

I’m looking forward to learning more about invasives too and to going to Washington for the first time. I want to visit the Natural History Museum, Smithsonian, Air and Space Museum, and the Lincoln Memorial.

I’d like to climb up the Washington Monument too, but I don’t know if my Dad can make it all the way up. (I hear it might be closed for repairs after the earthquake too. At least that’s what my Dad told me.)

If you’re a kid near Washington, and you want to learn more about invasive species, go to Kids’ day. (It’s free!) I would love to meet you and help train you to battle invasives too!

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Filed under Invasive Hunter Academy, National Invasive Species Awareness Week, U.S. Botanic Garden