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June 12, 2012

"Invader Crusaders," poster contest winners feted at ceremony

MADISON - Renowned University of Wisconsin-Madison Extension insect expert Phil Pellitteri, a Vilas County invasive species coordinator, a Sauk County youth group and several southeastern Wisconsin residents are among those honored this year as "Invader Crusaders" for their work to prevent the introduction and spread of invasive non-native plants and animals in Wisconsin.

The "Invader Crusaders" received their awards last week from the Wisconsin Council on Invasive Species in a ceremony at Madison's Olbrich Botanical Gardens. Winners of the student poster contest also were recognized, with Kohler fifth-grader Clara Montes taking home the grand prize for her design.

"It's important that we recognize and encourage all of the different individuals and organizations that are working tirelessly to keep Wisconsin's special places free of invasive species that choke out native plants and animals - both on land and water," said Paul Schumacher, chair of the council and a member of the Wisconsin Lakes Board of Directors.

"The fight to reduce invasive species' impact and keep them out of Wisconsin will be a long and hard battle for many years to come," he said. "We would not be able to do it without these and many other Invader Crusaders, and the poster contest winners who represent our next generation of crusaders."

Invasive species are nonnative plants, animals and pathogens that can damage habitats and outcompete native species in Wisconsin's forests, lakes, rivers, wetlands and grasslands. Garlic mustard, honeysuckle, zebra mussels, Eurasian water-milfoil and rusty crayfish are all examples of invasive species in Wisconsin.

Since 2005, June has been designated in Wisconsin as Invasive Species Awareness Month and the Wisconsin Council on Invasive Species has honored people and organizations for their work to address invasive species. It has promoted events in which hundreds of people help remove invasive species and participate in educational events at botanic gardens, natural areas, lakes, rivers, agricultural fields, parks, schools, and more.

Invader Crusader Awards

Invader Crusader Awards have honored Wisconsin citizens and organizations - both volunteer and professional -- for their significant contributions to the prevention, management, education, or research of invasive species that harm Wisconsin's land and waters.

The 2012 recipients are listed below; more information on their contributions can be found online on the Wisconsin Council on Invasive Species website.

Poster contest winners

Poster contest winner
Winning 2012 Invasive Species Awareness Month Poster by Clara Montes, Kohler Elementary School, Kohler

Clara Montes, a student at Kohler Elementary School in Kohler, took the grand prize with her design in the council's 2012 poster contest for Wisconsin fourth and fifth graders. This year's theme was "Slow the Spread By Boat and Tread!"

The goal of the poster contest was to increase awareness of shoreline and wetland invasive species and to teach people how to prevent the spread of invasive species in these habitats while people are enjoying these places by canoe, while hunting, when walking from trails to shorelines, and much more, according to Chrystal Schreck, DNR invasive species outreach coordinator.

Other award winners were Ben Kangas, of Magee Elementary School in Genesee Depot, who was named first runner up in the fifth grade division; Anna Carper, a fourth grader at Argyle School District in Argyle, was first runner up in that division. Ali DeLadi, of Shell Lake School in Shell Lake was second runner up.

A Special Mention award was given to teacher Rob Suhr's fifth-grade classroom at Magee Elementary School in Genesee Depot.

Other honorable mentions were awarded to Melissa Zeinert, Elcho School District, in Bower; Jordan Herzog, Shell Lake School, in Shell Lake; Olivia Cannestra, Woodside Elementary School, in Sussex; Dawson Quint, Grace Kostreva, Ava Brown and Willie Blue, of Magee Elementary School, in Genesee Depot.

Paul Schumacher, chair of the Wisconsin Invasive Species Council, said that Montes and other poster contest winners and entrants "inspire people of all ages to keep Wisconsin's special places free of invasive species that choke out native plants and animals on land and water."

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Chrystal Schreck (608) 264-8590; Kelly Kearns (608) 267-5066

Last Revised: Tuesday, June 12, 2012

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