Friday, April 23, 2010

Invasive Species subject matter expert looking for work

Looking for the next opportunity to make a difference, I come with 30 years of demonstrable experience

As one of the owners of one of the largest retail nurseries in the United States, I created a retail marketing project called ‘Stop and Take A Closer Look’ to bring awareness of invasive species to the public. It entailed and created a species database with over 2,000 entries of invasive species, highlighting the landscape impacts of horticultural plants on gardens and ecosystems. This database was used in a program that generated signs on plant species became a sign generating program ; the signs that were later sold to other nurseries in the United States.

I planned, designed and planted a 1,000 species and cultivars trail and stock garden in which, among other concepts, I explored the use of native species as substitute species for invasive species. The cultivar and stock garden was open to the public with educational signage. This program eventually became a part of the “Livable Delaware Program” a partnership between Delaware’s Department of Agriculture and the nursery industry.

I developed and implemented policy and programs of national significance on the prevention of invasive species as an active member of ISAC for 5 years, and Vice Chair for 2 years. During the time I provided substantive advice for the following national programs or policies: systematics in the federal government; invasive species research in the ARS and CSREES; definition of invasive species for the federal government; biofuels and invasive species program criteria and policy guidance. I successfully identified pathways by which invasive species are introduced and make recommendations to establish a risk assessment framework and/or mitigate and minimize the risk of introductions through my active business activities in the nursery trade and business for 20 years.

I have worked to minimize the nursery introduction of invasive species in my nurseries in MD and in the state. I have been a consultant on the horticulture and nursery trade pathway for invasives to ANLA, designing a grand meeting to discuss Horticulture pathway’s use of certification to mitigate the damage of invasives. Meeting participants included scientists, policy makers, program staff and directors, and federal agencies invasive species experts. As a result of the meeting two future actions were identified: to design a State Horticulture Certification program that can be used as a model for states to adopt; and another series of meetings to identify actions to deal with issues of the “nursery plants as a pathway” for invasives.

I have a working knowledge of the conceptual bio-economic model and computational framework for estimating risks due to invasive species that assesses and develops risk management and mitigation plans. I oversaw workgroup meetings of diverse interests, such as scientists and policy makers, in building a consensus on conservation issues. (I am working with the state of AK nursery businesses, the state DNR and the state Dept of Agriculture to design a Certification program for AK Nursery businesses that will mitigate the rist of invasions in the nursery trade. This necessitates working with diverse audiences, establishing their reasons for collaboration, identifying and working out their differences, and getting consensus on the design and adoption of the certification program.

I have many examples of work while in ISAC to deal with complex and difficult invasives issues and bringing participants to a consensus. I created informational PowerPoint and presentations for the public and private sectors dealing with the philosophy and intersection of their interests on invasive species. I instigated several workshops and information sessions on invasive species in collaboration with land managers at numerous symposia and meetings. For example, I am including my participation as a founding director of the Mid Atlantic Exotic Pest Plant Council (MA-EPPC) serving as its third President responsible for organizing regional symposia on invasive species. I convened national stakeholders to discuss cultivar sterility and invasive species, producing an ISAC- approved document, and as well as writing a paper on nursery industry national invasive species certification and convening a two day stakeholder discussion.

I also recently completed a policy briefing paper on climate change and invasive species for the 2010 National Invasive Species Awareness Week meeting in Washington, DC. I am currently working on the use of ‘bioeconomic’ endogenous risk assessment models and protocols as tools for invasive species management. I have having posted on line a power point presentation on various economic geographic models. In addition, based on my role as a technical advisor to the National Green Building Council’s landscape initiative, I worked with a Seattle- based landscape firm involved in the creation of invasive species and sustainability protocols for an international retailer’s landscape projects around the world.

I have arranged for political tours of politicians, Congressional members and staff, and policymakers as well as ISAC’s tour of USDA ARS facilities with a focus on systematics and the importance to invasive species. As a member of NISC’s ISAC I was a collaborating author of the federal white paper on invasive species definitions, and was invited to present the results on changes in definitions and their impacts on invasive species issues and problems to a meeting of private and public stakeholders at the 2010 National Invasive Species Awareness Week meeting.I have experience in preparing business strategic plans and policies on invasive species, preparing the plan for the nursery that was adopted and implemented from 1995 through 2008. I have been an industry expert on invasive species since the early 1990s. As the Perennial Plants Department Manager, I began internal research into Miscanthus germination rates. I instituted a business policy not to sell invasive Lythrum spp. at the garden centers based upon my early research into the negative impact of this ornamental species. The cost of this decision approached $35,000 dollars per year in lost revenues. This unilateral action eventually became a basis for the Maryland Nursery industry’s voluntary reduction of Lythrum sales This required that I find alternatives and convince the public as to the efficacy of alternatives in private and public gardens.

In addition, I began to interact with native plant constituencies on invasive species impacts to natural areas and the implication for ornamental landscape practices. This resulted in my collaboration and oversight in the writing of the invasive species chapter in the Maryland Nursery Industry professional certification program. As an industry representative, I met with natural area land mangers and organized and conducted tours of invasive species in public parks in the Washington DC area.I facilitated the first conversations between invasive species ecological interest groups and the Perennial Plant Association of America (PPA). I made a presentation at the Association’s national meeting of over 800 members about the state of invasive species issues in the United States. I worked with the American Nursery & Landscape Association (ANLA) to establish its invasive species position and input to USDA APHIS and Q37. I also assisted ANLA in its conduct of a national landscaping industry conversation related to USDA/APHIS input into North American Plant Protection Organization’s positions on invasive species prevention issues .In this role I reached out to USDA/ARS for support on questions of systematics and taxonomy, and eventually I became an advocate of support for U.S. systematics collections working closely with the Area Directors of USDA ARS (BARC & NAL).

To be able to provide advice as a member of the National Invasive Species Advisory Committee (ISAC), I routinely had to analyze budget data, sometimes from multiple agencies, to be able to assess the level of funding spent or projected to be spent in an invasive species program. Furthermore, as an advisor to USDA ARS BARC’s friend's association and in conjunction with its area directors I routinely assisted in preparing documents that explained programs and needs, to be presented to Congressional members or staff. I am confident in my abilities dealing with budget formulation, implementation and review because of my extensive experience, not only as an owner, but as the CFO, COO & CEO of a major nursery for more than 10 years. Budget is not an esoteric issue in business: you live or die by doing it right --- and I have those skills.By late 1990s, early 2000s I had become a nationally recognized leader on invasive species policies and issues speaking before not only the Perennial Plant Association (PPA) but industry and private organization across the US and Canada and Africa. In this role I worked to bring people, policies and programs together to afind common ground. I was appointed to the National Invasive Species Advisory Committee (ISAC) eventually becoming its Vice Chair. I worked with Early Detection and Rapid Response Initiatives with the port of Charleston.

I served at the U.S. Green Building Council’s national sustainable landscape initiative (SITES) managed by the LBJ Wild Flower Center in Austin, Texas working on the invasive species component of the vegetative landscape sub committee for more than two years. I have testified on issues of environmental justice before state legislators in Annapolis and worked with a river keeper to develop invasive species policy parameters. I reviewed and commented on proposed legislation and regulations in the State of Maryland surrounding invasive species, including the regional planning staff’s landscape manual plant list.

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