Join us for the
Wild Spotter Invasive Species Ambassador Training Course
This intensive training will include building relationships, partnerships and engaging stakeholders; branding and marketing programs; using innovative tools and technologies; and volunteer citizen-science coordination, recruitment, and retention to meet invasive species management goals and expand local community capacity for action.
This gathering will have limited attendance through a merit selection process. Please apply below. Priority will be given to participants who can demonstrate their commitment to building invasive species management capacity within their community.
Since 2016 the Innovations in Invasive Species Conference has brought people together from all parts of the world to look at new and developing tools and techniques. This year, the Innovations Conference will be changing its format and name to the “Invasives Free USA Wild Spotter Invasive Species Ambassador Training Course”
Make your travel plans early!
Training and Mentoring in Key Topics:
- Community Stakeholder Engagement – Who, Why, When, and How
- Citizen Science – Volunteer Recruitment, Management, and Retention
- Partnership Development and Fundraising for Invasive Species Management and Education Programs
- Tribal Engagement and Collaborations to Address Invasive Species
- Branding, Promoting, and Marketing – Boosting Communications for Invasive Species Prevention and Management
- Why It Matters: Core Knowledge and Basic Information an Invasive Species Ambassador Needs to Know
Community and Regional Invasive Species Management – Making Progress On-the-Ground and In-the-Water
Facilitated Collaboration Exercises for Course Participants
Networking Events and Activities
Anthony Boxshall is the Principal and Founder of
Science into Action. Anthony is an experienced executive, board member and science leader with expertise in climate adaptation, environmental and conservation science. He has a PhD in science, is a qualified board director and a Melbourne Enterprise Fellow at the University of Melbourne.
As executive lead for EPA Victoria’s science capability for many years, Anthony knows how critical a science-based strategy is for an organisation in a complex organisational, emergency, media and political environment.
He builds capability in people and helps leaders to build trust with their stakeholders. As the co-creator of the Authentic Co-design and Science Impact Boot Camps, he has found innovative ways to help decision makers and leaders put science into action in their own field.
Dr. Nick Fuhrman is Professor of Environmental Education and Josiah Meigs Distinguished Teaching Professor in the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources at the University of Georgia. He earned B.S. and M.S. degrees in Forestry from Virginia Tech and a Ph.D. in Agricultural Education and Communication with a focus in environmental education from the University of Florida. His life’s passion is teaching and he is known for bringing live animals such as snakes, turtles, alligators, and even owls into his classroom to help make class more engaging.
When not teaching at the University of Georgia, he hosts a monthly nature television show titled “Ranger Nick” which airs nationally on RFD-TV and travels nationally speaking before audiences about the environment, teaching best practices, and inspiring behavior change.
Dan Tompkins leads the science strategy for Predator Free 2050, New Zealand’s initiative to eradicate invasive predators for the benefit of native biodiversity, as the Project Manager Science Strategy of Predator Free 2050 Ltd. Dan is an Honorary Professor at the University of Otago, New Zealand, and member of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Task Force on Synthetic Biology and Biodiversity Conservation.
An ecologist and epidemiologist by training, with degrees from Cambridge University and the University of Oxford, Dan’s past research includes: exploring novel high-tech approaches to pest control (including the ‘Trojan Female Technique’ approach to fertility control); understanding the interactions among species in the New Zealand mammal pest community; demonstrating the efficacy of oral BCG vaccination for TB control in brushtail possums; and demonstrating the role of shared diseases in native species declines.
Jill is an ecologist with project experience in natural resources planning, watershed analysis, habitat restoration, and development of watershed-scale conservation programs. Jill’s academic training is in riverine and wetland ecology, geomorphology, and community planning. Jill assists communities in shaping regulatory priorities and advocating for sustainable land management practices that protect ecosystem services and provide net environmental benefits. Her experience includes development of natural resources management programs and applied research relative to forested watershed ecosystems. She has worked extensively on the west Olympic Peninsula of Washington State in the Hoh River watershed where she coordinates multi-disciplinary teams to address the complex issues of sustainable resource management, including forestry, mining, and rural development. She has led regulatory and educational forums addressing habitat protection in forested wetlands, old forest and riparian ecosystems, and channel migration zones; successfully interacting with a diverse group of resource and regulatory professionals.
Joe Wiegand – “President Theodore Roosevelt”
Joe Wiegand is a political science graduate of The University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee, and the world’s premiere Theodore Roosevelt reprisor. In his early career, Mr. Wiegand served in elected positions with the American Legion Illinois Boys State and National Programs, worked with the Center for Governmental Studies at Northern Illinois University, and served as a political campaign consultant and public policy expert. Mr. Wiegand has been named a Wilkins Scholar, a Harry S. Truman Scholar, and a Thomas J. Watson Fellow, and served six years as a member of the DeKalb County, Illinois Board of Commissioners. He is a thirty-year member of Rotary International and a member of the National Association for Interpretation.
In 2008, Mr. Wiegand and his family traveled across America in celebration of Theodore Roosevelt’s 150th birthday and the final centennial year of TR’s historic presidency. Performances at the White House and TR’s New York City birthplace highlighted the fifty-state adventure. .
Currently a resident of Medora, North Dakota, Mr. Wiegand works for the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation. His performance tour is highlighted in summer by a daily matinee in Medora, gateway to Theodore Roosevelt National Park and the future home of Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library. As an actor and historian, his portrayals of Theodore Roosevelt in live performances have people wondering if Theodore Roosevelt has come back to life.
Damon Waitt is Director of the North Carolina Botanical Garden and Professor of the Practice in Biology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. As Director, Waitt has broad responsibility for overall leadership and management of the North Carolina Botanical Garden and for ensuring that the Garden fulfills its mission to inspire understanding, appreciation, and conservation of plants and to advance a sustainable relationship between people and nature. As a practicing botanist, Waitt’s primary interest is in building capacity in the human, scientific, technological, organizational, institutional and resource capabilities that support botanical education, research and management currently declining across government, academic, and private sectors. Increasing our Botanical Capacity will be essential to solving the grand challenges of the next century, including climate change, sustainability, food security, preservation of ecosystem services, conservation of threatened species, and control of invasive species.
Waitt comes to the North Carolina Botanical Garden from the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at the University of Texas in Austin where he served as Senior Director and Botanist from 2001-2015 and had broad responsibility for developing the Wildflower Center’s 279 acres of gardens and natural areas and authored the Center’s Native Plant Information Network.
Ken Parker is a passionate indigenous horticulturalist and member of the Seneca Nation of Indians. He has spent much of his life devoted to community engagement and building local capacity for growing, installing, and promoting the use of indigenous plants of North America. For over 25 years, he has participated in various grass-roots environmental conservation projects throughout the United States and Canada; promoting native biodiversity conservation, landscape restoration, corporate landscaping and green infrastructure, and related consulting on marketing and environmental education.
Ken promotes a community-based green workforce; providing organizations with an opportunity to participate in a nationally recognized standard that promotes exceptional job knowledge and skills to build, inspect and maintain green infrastructure (GI) systems in a diverse array of ecosystems and landownerships. Ken is a New York State Certified Nursery Landscape Professional (CNLP) and a Green Infrastructure Program Trainer. Ken understands the many financial challenges and operational hurdles which grass-roots organizations face when trying to implement on-the-ground conservation programs while addressing an ever-changing array of priorities and perspectives in the community.
Learn more about Ken and his work at https://nativeplantguy.com/.
Originally from Manchester, Dickie graduated from Salford University with an Environmental Science degree and soon joined the British Antarctic Survey. This launched a ten year career working in Antarctica. Initially employed as terrestrial biologist, he moved into management roles including Base Commander at Rothera and Bird Island, South Georgia. After returning to the UK in 2011 and working for the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency, the draw of the ‘South’ proved too strong and he gained his first island eradication experience, working as Field Assistant for Phase Two of the South Georgia Heritage Trust’s Habitat Restoration project, the world’s largest rodent eradication to date.
Dickie returned to South Georgia in 2013, spending a year as BAS Base Commander at King Edward Point, and then rejoining SGHT for Phase 3 of their baiting operations. He was promoted to Deputy and later Project Director which saw him organise Phase 4, the final return to South Georgia to carry out intensive monitoring which demonstrated that the baiting was successful and the island was indeed free of rodents. Dickie believes that the restoration of island habitats is a crucial step towards turning back the tide of man’s negative influences on our fragile ecosystems. He also relishes the challenge of tackling projects in demanding environments with complicated logistics. When not working in remote locations Dickie resides in the UK and enjoys running, cycling and exploring the British countryside with his partner Rachel.
Justin Bush joined the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife as the state’s Aquatic Invasive Species Policy Coordinator in 2023. In this role, he leads statewide aquatic invasive species, ballast water and biofouling efforts. From 2016 to 2023 Justin was the Executive Coordinator of the State of Washington Invasive Species Council, charged with statewide policy-level direction, planning and coordination for preventing and stopping invasive species of all types. Justin has been working on invasive species issues since 2008 with federal, state, regional, and local organizations including King County, Skamania County, and the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at the University of Texas at Austin where he managed the Texasinvasives.org statewide partnership. During these years, he has been involved in countless projects to prevent, detect, and control both aquatic and terrestrial invasive species and is passionate about reducing the threat they pose to the economy, native species, and ecosystems. When not working to stop invasive species, Justin can be found boating, kayaking, SCUBA diving, traveling, or teaching his one-year-old son to enjoy all that the Pacific Northwest has to offer.
Ken Donnelly runs Beyond Attitude Consulting, a Canadian firm that employs behavioral psychology to nurture positive behaviors in areas like health, environment, transportation, and safety. He’s been creating effective Behavior Change programs globally for 30 years and has trained thousands of people through workshops, webinars, and a weekly newsletter.
Dr. Enloe is a professor and extension specialist at the IFAS Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants at the University of Florida. He has been involved with invasive plant research and extension for the past two decades and has worked throughout the western and southeastern United States on developing innovative management strategies for many of the worst invasive tree, shrub, vine, and herbaceous species in the US. Dr. Enloe earned his Ph.D at UC Davis in Plant Biology, a Master’s degree in weed science from Colorado State University, and an undergraduate degree in Agronomy from N.C. State.
Jessica Tegt is the outreach coordinator for the Berryman Institute at Utah State University and specializes in conservation education, human–wildlife conflicts, as well as human dimensions of wildlife. She received her master’s degree in rangeland resources from Utah State University in 2004 and her doctoral degree in wildlife from Mississippi State University in 2011. From 2010–2011, she served as the national outreach coordinator for Berryman Institute East and from 2011–2017, she was an assistant extension professor in human–wildlife conflicts at Mississippi State University (MSU). While at MSU, she developed a conservation education outreach program that served >10,000 students, advised students and taught several courses on human–wildlife conflicts, oversaw research on wild pig management, operated international conferences, helped found the National Wild Pig Task Force, served as the Mississippi Wildlife Chapter President, and conducted a rigorous outreach program including the implementation of the National Training Academy with USDA-APHIS-Wildlife Services. In her current role at Utah State University, Jessica develops educational series of webinars, training programs, and seminars on managing human-wildlife conflicts and improving human-wildlife interactions.
Pat Conzemius is the President & CEO at Wildlife Forever, a national conservation organization heavily involved in youth conservation education, habitat restoration, and invasive species outreach, education, and prevention marketing. Working in partnership with state, federal, and local entities, Wildlife Forever is a cofounder of Wild Spotter and currently leads the Clean Drain Dry Initiative coordinating educational resources, media, and outreach campaigns. Through collaboration and networking, Wildlife Forever works with organizations to implement modern outreach techniques and services for promotion and development of consistent messaging and best practices. Wildlife Forever is also a lead developer for EcoStar, an invasive species education program targeting the pet and aquarium trade working to develop product labels for informed, risk based, purchases of plants and animals, and the Citizen Carp Control campaign to raise awareness and advocacy for invasive carp control and removal.
Angela Gupta is a University of Minnesota Extension Professor of Forestry who specializes in terrestrial invasive species. She’s done invasive species early detection education and outreach including participatory science, from crowdsourcing to community science, for about 15 years. Angie’s been a key leader of the UMN Extension’s Invasive Species Community of Practice since its inception in 2016. Angie co-created the EmpowerU course to engage decision makers about invasive species. Angie earned a MA in Organizational Management from Spring Arbor University and a BS in Forestry from the University of Kentucky. Prior to joining Extension, Angie was an industrial forester working with private landowners in Michigan and a US Peace Corps Agroforestry Extensionist in Kenya, East Africa.
JONATHAN “JON” MARTIN is the Director of the Native American Forest and Rangeland Management Program at the Ecological Restoration Institute (ERI), Northern Arizona University. Jon has spent the last 30 years in the natural resources management field, primarily on tribal lands, throughout the Southwest. Starting out as a seasonal forester, he gradually assumed positions of increasing complexity and responsibility that provided experience in the full range of issues that confront resource managers in the Southwest.
Having served as a Regional-level manager, he is familiar with the federal mandates and requirements of program planning and implementation. He has at one time, or another, interacted with most federal resource management agencies within the region and knows the challenges of pursuing sound management of tribal resources. He has served on numerous inter-agency teams, as an agency representative, and has always advocated on behalf of tribal resources.
With support from all of the Ecological Restoration Institute’s resources and programs, Jon applies his extensive experience and knowledge in community-based conservation to pursue the restoration and maintenance of ecosystem resiliency for the benefit of tribal communities. Jon’s firm understanding of the complexities associated with climate change and invasive species threats in the Southwest allows him to provides support to tribal communities as they prepare to address the many associated challenges and barriers they face now, and into the future.
Jon uses all the resources of ERI to engage tribes in landscape scale restoration efforts on tribal and other federal lands. Recent legislative actions makes this engagement between tribes and federal land management agencies possible and facilitates collaborative efforts that support restoration treatments for healthy, resilient, and sustainable forest ecosystems.