Thanks to my friend, Miss Sheryl Smith-Rodgers, I recently had the honor of speaking to the Highland Lakes Chapter of the Texas Master Naturalists.
I had such a fun time giving my invasive species presentation to their group! Everyone was so nice to me, and they were passionate about protecting native plants. Plus, after my talk, they gave me a great goodie bag with some things to help me during my adventures fighting invasives.
Top three invasives for conversation starters
To start the day, the master naturalists group treated my Mom and me to a delicious lunch at an Italian restaurant in Marble Falls. It was a lot of fun chatting with everyone over a great meal (I had a salad) and luckily there were no invasives in sight there.
I had a good time talking with people over lunch about three invasives that they really dislike:
- Bastard Cabbage (Rapistrum rugosum) – One lady talked with me about how her property is being over run by Bastard Cabbage, and how she is going to put it down Indian Blanket seeds to try and stop it.
- Malta star-thistle (Centaurea melitensis) – Another person talked with me about how one day his property was great, but then invasives struck! His property was overrun by Malta star-thistle, KR Bluestem, and Johnson grass with a touch of Salt cedar…and don’t forget that insidious cursing plant…Bastard Cabbage.
- Japanese honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica) – Another lady talked about how Japanese honeysuckle is overrunning her property and how she and her husband just can’t stop it. It grows along their fence line so rapidly.
In my interview with biologist Mr. Darrell Hutchinson, “Austin Invasive Species Corps Aid Golden-Cheeked Warbler“, he talked with me about the web of interdependence in nature. I shared his insight with the group, and they found this analogy very interesting.
Next, I shared some information from my interview with with Dr. Jay Famiglietti, “Last Call at the Oasis: Interview series with Dr. Jay Famiglietti“, how he explained to me about the water, energy, and food nexus. They also found this really cool.
Presenting with my trusty iPad
After lunch we headed over to the group’s meeting area where we started to set up. I was amazed by how many naturalists were there! It looked like about 75 people, maybe more! I was really excited.
I had my iPad with me where I had prepared my presentation using the Keynote app. The group provided me with a great projector so that I could show my Keynote slides and videos on the screen behind me.
When it was time to start, everyone quieted down and Miss Sheryl gave me a great introduction.
During my presentation, I talked about:
- How I got started as Commander Ben – the Invasive Hunter
- What invasive species are
- Some examples of common invasive plants in Central Texas
- How I fight invasives, and
- Why I started the Invasive Hunter Academy.
Then I showed the group three videos from my “Battles with Invasive Species” series:
All the videos got a great reception, but I think everyone especially enjoyed seeing the grumpy scientist in the Amazing Invasive Hunter Man.
I ended my presentation by sharing with the group some of my experiences with dyslexia, and the technologies that I use to write my blog and make my videos. Plus, I gave them a glimpse into what’s next for Commander Ben: Working more with invasives, dyslexia, and high school!
Everyone loves stickers
When I finished, everyone applauded and then Miss Linda O’Nan, vice president of the group, presented me with a goodie bag including a great Texas Master Naturalist hat! I also got to meet Miss Fredi Franki, president of the group.
After my presentation, I chatted with all the master naturalists as they came and looked at the Invasive Hunter Academy stuff I had brought along with me. I noticed even the adults loved the stickers. Who doesn’t love stickers!
Thanks to Miss Sheryl for the great blog post of the event, Commander Ben Enlightens Us. Be sure to check it out. Miss Sheryl has a fantastic nature blog!
Many thanks to all the Highland Lakes Chapter Texas Master Naturalists! I had a great day and look forward to seeing you all again…maybe out in the field!