Category Archives: Native Plant Avengers

Black Swan Events Explored at Hot Science – Cool Talks

Oh no! Black Swan (Cygnus atratus)
Photo credit: Calvin Teo on wikipedia

This Fall 2012 kicks off another great semester of “Hot Science. Cool Talks.” presentations with Dr. David W. Orr’s “Black Swans & the U.S. Future: Creating Sustainable & Resilient Societies” on Friday, September 14, at 7:00 p.m. in UT Austin’s Student Activity Center. However, you’ll want to arrive early, as the fun pre-lecture events start at 5:45 p.m.

A professor of Environmental Studies and Politics at Oberlin College, Dr. Orr will talk about “Black Swans” as infrequent and unpredictable events that drive change in human and natural systems. This summer, I wondered if
invasive species could trigger a black swan event, such as with the Mediterranean Sea and Oregon incidents.

The “Hot Science. Cool Talks.” presentations are fantastic for kids of all ages, but especially for middle and high school students. (I should add elementary students too since as young Commander Ben, I was able to meet Dr. John Grotzinger at a presentation in 2005. Dr. Grotzinger is now a project scientist for the Mars Science Laboratory that is part of the Curiosity Mars rover.)

Invasive Hunter Academy coming to Hot Science – Cool Talks

I’m sorry that I’ll miss this Friday’s presentation, but I’ll be at the “Lights. Camera. Help.” Focus on Good Film Festival! My Native Plant Avengers video about Texas wildflowers banding together to fight invasive species was selected to be shown at the festival.

However, I’m excited to announce that I’ll be bringing my Invasive Hunter Academy to the prelecture fun for the “Last Call at the Oasis: Will There be Enough Water for the 21st Century?” presentation by Dr. Jay Famiglietti on October 26, 2012.

I’ll bring fun activities to help kids learn about invasive species, and I’ll have special information about the Giant Reed, an invasive species that threatens our water and riparian ecosystems, for this special event.

Thanks Mr. Geoff Hensgen, Outreach coordinator, and Dr. Jay Banner, Director of the UT Austin Environmental Science Institute, for inviting me to join your wonderful event!

I hope to see you there!

Your friend,

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Filed under black swan, Curiosity Rover, Dr. David Orr, Dr. Jay Famiglietti, Dr. John Grotzinger, Environmental, Environmental Science Institute, ESI, Geoff Hensgen, Hot Science - Cool Talks, Invasive Hunter Academy, Invasive Species, Jay Banner, Lights Camera Help Annual Nonprofit Film Festival, Lights. Camera. Help., Mars Rover, Mars Science Laboratory, Native Plant Avengers, University of Texas, UT Austin

Commander Ben Interviewed on KOOP 97.1 FM Radio!

Commander Ben on KOOP 97.1 FM Radio

This past Thursday I had the HUGE privilege of being interviewed by Mr. Robert Sims on his radio show, Lights, Camera, Austin,which airs on KOOP 97.1 FM, about my video, Native Plant Avengers, which was selected to be part of the “Lights. Camera. Help” Focus on Good Film Festival. Also on the radio show were two really terrific people…Mr. Aaron Bramley founder of the film festival and Ms. Brandy Amstel, another filmmaker whose short film, In Her Shoes, was also selected for the film festival.

Mr. Sims is a really nice man and was so kind to me. I was a bit nervous before we went on the air but Mr. Sims assured me that he wouldn’t ask me any “60-Minutes” type questions!  A few minutes before our segment of the show was to begin, Mr. Sims lead us into the studio which was amazing.  The door leading into the studio is very heavy and I really got a sense of the sound-proof nature of the room once the door closed.  Putting on the headphones and positioning the mike in front of me was so cool.  All I could think to myself was, “Oh wow!  This is big-time!”   Once we went “live”, I felt a lot more relaxed and the interview went great.  A recording of the interview is posted here.

My video will premiere at the film festival this coming Wednesday at 7:00PM at the Spirit of Texas Theater at the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum. Be sure to come out and support a really great cause!

Thank you, Mr. Sims, for having me on your radio show…and another big thank you to Mr. Bramley for selecting my video to be part of the “Lights. Camera. Help.” Focus on Good Film Festival!

Your friend,

Update: Thanks Lady Bird Wildflower Center for featuring “Native Plant Avengers” in your September 2012 newsletter. And thanks too iWire, the monthly online newsletter for invasive plants and pests in Texas, for mentioning my video and the “Lights. Camera. Help.” Film Festival in your August 2012 newsletter.

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Filed under Aaron Bramley, Brandy Amstel, In Her Shoes, iWire Texas Invasives Newsletter, KOOP 97.1 FM, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, Lights Camera Austin, Lights Camera Help Annual Nonprofit Film Festival, Lights. Camera. Help., Native Plant Avengers, Robert Sims

“Lights. Camera. Help.” Film Festival Selects “Native Plant Avengers” Video

A few months ago, I submitted one of my “Battles with Invasive Species” videos to the “Lights. Camera. Help.” Focus on Good film festival for their consideration. This nonprofit organization is dedicated to encouraging other nonprofit and cause-driven organizations to use film and video to tell their stories. One of the ways they do this is through their annual film festival.

I am so happy to share with you that my Native Plant Avengers – Ecosystem’s Mightiest Heroes video was selected to be part of the “Lights. Camera. Help.” 4th Annual Film Festival.  It will be screened to a live audience on Wednesday, September 12, 2012, at 7:00pm in the Spirit of Texas Theater at the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum.  The winner of the film festival will be announced at 7:30pm on Friday, September 14, 2012, at their awards party at the Scottish Rite Theater.

Winners of the film festival will receive prize money to donate to the charity of their choosing.  If I win, I’ve asked to donate my proceeds to one of my favorite organizations whose hard work fighting invasive species everyday keeps native plants going strong in central Texas…The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center!

If you’d like to join me at the “Lights. Camera. Help.” Film Festival, you can view the three day schedule and buy tickets here.  Hope you’ll come out and support a great cause!

Your friend,

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Filed under Battles with Invasive Species, Invasive Species, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, Lights Camera Help Annual Nonprofit Film Festival, Lights. Camera. Help., Native Plant Avengers, Nonprofit Organization, Scottish Rite Theater, Spirit of Texas Theater, Texas State History Museum

Commander Ben Joins Earth Week Activities at St. Edward’s University

At last year’s Texas Invasive Plant and Pest Conference, I had the opportunity to meet Mr. Mitch Robinson, Education and Land Management Coordinator for Wild Basin Preserve.

He talked with me about how Wild Basin Preserve fends off invasive species, and I was very impressed by his passion for protecting the preserve’s native ecosystem.

We’ve kept in touch since then, and he was so nice to invite me to be part of the Earth Week activities at St. Edward’s University, which were also broadcast on Google+ Hangouts. He was giving a presentation about invasive species on April 19, and he asked me to join him to talk about my experiences battling invasives and teaching others about them.

On the guard against invasives

Mr. Robinson started the event by giving an excellent presentation about invasives including several examples and how they affect our environment. I was especially intrigued by the Giant African Land Snail. Why? Because it’s giant and eats houses!

Actually, it eats the stucco off houses, but that’s close enough. They can grow up to 8 inches, and eat other snails and over 500 species of plants. They were brought into Florida as pets, but were released in the late 1960s, and Florida State University had to spend millions of dollars to battle them back.

It’s a menace to Western Civilization!

Native Plant Avengers movie trailer shown at St. Edwards

Afterwards, Mr. Robertson introduced me by first playing my latest video, Native Plant Avengers. When I saw my video played on a big screen in front of an audience, I had a great feeling of happiness because that’s why I make the videos–to help educate people about invasives and for my audience to have fun at the same time.

After my video, I talked about how I got started learning about invasives and teaching others. I also took questions from the audience and talked about my Invasive Hunter Academy as part of Kid’s Day during National Invasive Species Awareness Week at the US Botanic Garden.

Thank you so much Mr. Robinson and St. Edwards for inviting me to be part of your Earth Day events! It was a lot of fun! Down with invasives!

Your friend,

Update: Invasive Hunter Academy Returns to St. Edward’s University for Earth Day 2013

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Filed under 2011 Texas Invasive Plant Conference, Earth Day, Environmental, Giant African Land Snail, Googe+ Hangouts, Invasive Hunter Academy, Invasive Species, Mitch Robinson, National Invasive Species Awareness Week, Native Plant Avengers, St Edward's University, U.S. Botanic Garden, Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve