Tag Archives: NISAW

National Invasive Species Awareness Week 2015

National Invasive Species Awareness Week logo (image credit: NISAW)

National Invasive Species Awareness Week logo (image credit: NISAW)

National Invasive Species Awareness Week (NISAW) 2015 starts today (February 22) and continues through February 28! After being absent from Washington D.C. since 2012, NISAW 2015 returns with lots of activities, including a invasive species fair and congressional reception on February 25. There are also many state activities too.

In Texas, Mr. Justin Bush, Invasive Species Coordinator for Texasinvasives.org, has special Invaders of Texas Citizen Scientist Workshops that you can join to learn how to report invasive plants and use the new Texas Invasives mobile app. (Here’s a video I made with an earlier version of the Texas Invaders iPhone App.)

Kids’ Day at National Invasive Species Awareness Week 2012

I was happy to bring my Invasive Hunter Academy to Kid’s Day at NISAW 2012 that was held at the US Botanic Garden. Here are some of my adventures teaching kids about invasive species during my 2012 trip:

What happened to National Invasive Species Awareness Week 2013 and 2014?

Sadly, the events for NISAW 2013 were cancelled because of the government sequester and the event was not rescheduled until 2015.

NISAW 2013 was special for me because the National Invasive Species Council (NISC) gave me the 2013 Outstanding Terrestrial Invasive Species Volunteer of the Year Award. What a great honor! But I was disappointed that I couldn’t go to Washington DC that year to accept the award.

Kids’ Day at National Invasive Species Awareness Week 2015

This year’s Kid’s Day at NISAW 2015 is being held on February 28, 2015, during National Invasive Species Awareness Day at the National Museum of Natural History (NMNH).

If you’re in Washington D.C., you’ll learn about invasive species from the presenters with lots of interactive activities for kids. Afterwards, be sure to visit the top five Washington DC museums for Invasive Species Hunters. (Don’t forget the International Spy Museum. It’s great! Sometimes hunting invasive species requires stealth.)

Invasive Hunter Academy at Nature Nights 2015

I have some great news to share with you! I’m excited to announce that I’ll be bringing the Invasive Hunter Academy back to Nature Nights at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin, Texas.

The Nature Nights plants special event on June 11 has a special theme this year. I can’t wait to share it with you in an upcoming blog post. 😉

Your friend,
Ben

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Filed under Invasive Species, Justin Bush, National Invasive Species Awareness Week, National Invasive Species Council, NISAW

Invasive Species Are on the Run at the 2014 Texas Invasive Plant and Pest Conference

Commander Ben searches his Sherlock mind palace for ways to defeat invasive species

Commander Ben searches his Sherlock Mind Palace for ways to defeat invasive species

I’m excited to announce that I’ll be presenting at the 2014 Texas Invasive Plant and Pest Conference this month!

I’ll be talking about “Adventures with Invasive Species and the Invasive Hunter Academy” in the auditorium at the University of Texas at Austin Marine Science Institute in Port Aransas, Texas, on February 27, 2014.

If you’re a scientist, citizen scientist, Texas naturalist, or Taekwondo-wearing invasive hunter, this is a conference that you won’t want to miss! The conference is a great opportunity to learn about invasive plants, insects, and other pests across Texas.

2011 Texas Invasive Plant and Pest conference

Commander Ben rallies scientists at the 2011 Texas Invasive Plant and Pest Conference

I was privileged to attend and present at the last Texas Invasive Plant and Pest Conference that was held at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center from November 8-10, 2011. I had started creating my Battles with Invasive Species video series earlier that year and receiving great feedback from kids and scientists across the country.

My presentation was entitled, “Origin of an invasive hunter: Educating kids of all ages about invasives”. Apple’s Siri had just come out, and I used the then new iPhone 4s to invite my invasive species loving nemesis, Baron Neb, to lunch with me at the conference. (He was too scared to attend.)

I had a great time at the conference. Many scientists were very friendly and generous with their time to create videos with me and talk about their work with invasive species.

Here are some previous posts about the 2011 conference:

2014 Texas Invasive Plant and Pest conference

Since my 2011 talk, I’ve learned more about invasive species and created the Invasive Hunter Academy. (Also started high school in the fall of 2013!) With the Academy, I’ve been able to bring fun activities to help educate kids about invasive species at in-person events in Texas and across the country.

Commander Ben displays his 2013 Outstanding Terrestrial Invasive Species Volunteer of the Year Award in front of admiring Giant Reed invasive plants.

Commander Ben displays his 2013 Outstanding Terrestrial Invasive Species Volunteer of the Year Award in front of admiring Giant Reeds

Because of my successful outreach to help budding naturalists appreciate their native ecosystems and learn about the problems of invasive species, I was honored in 2013 to be awarded the “Outstanding Terrestrial Invasive Species Volunteer” from the National Invasive Species Council. (Terrestrial sounds cool. It means on the land, where I’ve battled many invasive species. Although I must confess straying into riparian habitats from time to time in my pursuit of the Giant Reed too.)

Unfortunately, the government had shut down just before the start of National Invasive Species Awareness Week (NISAW), and I wasn’t able to go to Washington D.C. to attend the festivities and meet other scientists. I also missed not going back to the U.S. Botanic Gardens or the International Spy Museum. Drat! 😦

Eco-Hero Commander Ben talks about his work with invasive species at the Action for Nature awards ceremony

Eco-Hero Commander Ben talks about his work with invasive species at the Action for Nature awards ceremony

In 2013, I also was honored to receive an International Young Eco Hero award from Action for Nature. I had a great time meeting other scientists and young naturalists and talking at their annual conference at the American Institute of Architects in San Francisco, California.

For my 2014 conference presentation, I’ll talk about my experiences creating the Invasive Hunter Academy, filming Battle with Invasive Species videos, and educating kids about invasive species. As part of the Academy, kids can create an action diorama showing themselves battling an invasive plant. Which plant do they pick most often? You’ll have to come to my presentation to find out. 🙂

Your friend,
Ben

P.S. Do you have a favorite (I mean worse) invasive species in Texas? If so, let me know in the comments below!

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Filed under 2011 Texas Invasive Plant Conference, 2013 Outstanding Terrestrial Invasive Species Volunteer of the Year Award, 2014 Texas Invasive Plant Conference, Action for Nature, Battles with Invasive Species, Eco-Hero, Invasive Hunter, Invasive Hunter Academy, Invasive Species Award, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, Marine Science Institute, National Invasive Species Council, University of Texas

Commander Ben Receives 2013 Outstanding Invasive Species Volunteer Award

Commander Ben displays his 2013 Outstanding Terrestrial Invasive Species Volunteer of the Year Award in front of admiring Giant Reed invasive plants.

Commander Ben displays his 2013 Outstanding Terrestrial Invasive Species Volunteer of the Year Award in front of admiring Giant Reeds

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.

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

NISAW_logo

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:

Hope to see you there!

Your friend,
Ben

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Filed under 2011 Texas Invasive Plant Conference, 2013 Outstanding Terrestrial Invasive Species Volunteer of the Year Award, Brackenridge Field Lab, Damon Waitt, Department of the Interior, Environmental Science Institute, Geoff Hensgen, Hot Science - Cool Talks, Invasive Hunter, Invasive Hunter Academy, Invasive Species, Invasive Species Award, Jay Banner, Jessica Strickland, Jewel Cichlid, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, Laura Dugan, Lori Faeth, Lori Williams, National Invasive Species Awareness Week, National Invasive Species Council, NISAW, NISC, Science Under the Stars, Taekwondo, University of Texas, UT Austin, Wildflower Center

Top 5 Washington DC Museums for Invasive Species Hunters

Commander Ben Goes to Washington

Commander Ben Goes to Washington

Are you a budding invasive hunter who’s planning a trip to Washington DC this year? If so, I’ve got the list for you!

I had a great time last year bringing my Invasive Hunter Academy to Kids’ day during National Invasive Species Awareness Week at the US Botanic Gardens. While I was there, my family and I visited many of the museum in our nation’s capital, and I made notes on what I liked and what would be neat for invasive hunters in training.

Here are my top five museums for invasive species hunters and for everyone who loves adventure and nature too!

  1. United States Botanic Gardens
    • Liked: Fantastic place with lots of wonderful plants! And so close to the United States Capitol! The special “Orchid Mystic: Nature’s Triumph” display they had was very cool and was related to the Japanese, a culture that I admire.
    • Invasive Hunters: Learn a lot about plants! See what potential invasive species look like because some plants native to one area are not native in another area.
  2. International Spy Museum
    • Liked: You have to go on the Operation Spy action adventure, as well as see the James Bond exhibit. It’s also great learning about the carrier pigeons and Benjamin Franklin’s role as a spy. Cool gift shop! The deadbolt drop and survival tools are must haves.
    • Invasive Hunters: Teaches you the art of espionage so you can spy on invasives and hone your skills.
  3. Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
    • Liked: The water beetles in the bug zoo were cool. Great fossil, rock, and mineral collection. The Hope diamond was much smaller than I expected. They had a bigger diamond there that dwarfed it. Great rock gift shop.
    • Invasive Hunters: Learn about invasive pests, and learn about rocks and minerals that you may encounter while hunting for invasives.
  4. United States Capitol
    • Liked: Loved meeting my US Congressman to talk about the problems with invasive species. Be sure to visit the House Gallery if they’re in session. The House chambers look smaller than on TV. The statues and tunnels were great too! Each state got to have two statues and I saw the two that were from Texas. A statue from Hawaii was great with the “big guy” in golden armor…King Kamehameha!
    • Invasive Hunters: Learn how laws are made that may help to keep invasive species from invading our ecosystems. Be sure to get the quill and ink from the gift shop to write “Down with Invasives!” in the old fashion style.
  5. National Cryptologic Museum
    • Liked: Great information on how to decipher codes, and learned about the Hobo code from the depression era. Also learned about the German Enigma machine and how the Allies cracked the code in WWII. Nice gift shop, but the Spy museum was better. 😉
    • Invasive Hunters: Create codes for native plants that invasive species can’t read. 🙂

Let me know if you have any favorites too!

2013 National Invasives Species Week

National Invasives Species Week (NISAW) is back this year from March 3-8, 2013, in Washington, DC.

My thanks to Sheriff Al and the NISAW team for inviting me back this year. I’ve been preparing for high school (tests, homework, augh!), and won’t be able to make it back 😦 , but if you live near or are visiting Washington DC during this time, don’t miss going to NISAW Kids’ Day on March 3. 🙂 There will be lots of fun activities for the entire family to learn more about invasive species! Plus, you can visit all the great museums in our nations capital. Yea!

Your friend,
Ben

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Filed under International Spy Museum, Invasive Hunter, Invasive Hunter Academy, Invasive Microbes, Invasive Species, National Cryptologic Museum, National Invasive Species Awareness Week, Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, U.S. Botanic Garden, United States Capitol, US Capitol, Washington DC

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

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