Invasive Plants Slide Show

I’m really happy with the way my slide show turned out, but I’d really like some feedback. Does the biodiversity analogy work? Were the images good? Should I add more/take away some slides? Does it appeal to the eye?  I’m kind of nervous about presenting this because I feel like right now everything makes sense in my head and when I read it out loud to myself, but I might trip up and leave things out and make it really confusing when presenting it. I’m going to probably practice it a lot and write out some thorough notes to take up with me when I pitch this at the retreat. I’m just really hoping this idea sells because the more I look into it the more passionate I feel about this subject. I’ve always been attracted to issues that don’t stand out to people, such as this one, because often times issues are occurring right under our noses and will reach a point of no return before we’re even aware of it. I feel like it’s very important to recognize them, this one in particular, because Vermont is the one of the greenest and nature oriented states in America. Here’s the link to the slide show I’ve created https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1YcJxFHp3linCD2T-pHaHMgoLBEC3u0tdyseSQ-Qijzw/edit?usp=sharing.

I think that this topic is important and relevant because it is something that can’t be recognized unless it’s been brought to your attention. For example, I wasn’t aware of this until we briefly discussed it in my Biology class at the beginning of the year. It’s something that could be considered small in the plethora of issues our ecosystems already face, such as pollution, natural disaster, climate change, etc.; but invasive plants create so many problems relating to biodiversity, especially in The Green Mountain State considering we have so many bodies of water and heavily forested areas. Vermont’s forests and lakes are very important to many people who live here, and preserving our ecosystems will hopefully be something that appeals to lots of people.

There are invasive plants that have adapted themselves into our environment over time, and then there are plants that haven’t adapted themselves yet and are creating problems. Nature is constantly changing and evolving, and I’m not in a position to delay the process of evolution whatsoever. However we’ve played a huge role in speeding up the process of spreading these harmful invasive plants without even being aware of it. It’s already creating more of an imbalance then there would naturally be which is not good at all. The organisms in Vermont’s ecosystems don’t have enough time to keep up and adjust to invasive plants coming into our environments, and there are so many implementing themselves into our lake’s and forests at once (refer to the list of invasive plants in my mind map document for an list of a few of the plant’s that are currently invading  the state of Vermont https://docs.google.com/document/d/13BiboSRbOm5ydQuo9D0IytdillzUeTokeDH9As_EgWY/edit) which explains why this is such a big problem. Every organism has a biotic potential in an ideal environment, and when an invasive species grows rapidly and takes over, the biotic potential for native plants decreases, which can be dangerous for the environment and the organisms that live in it. The invasive plants population is quickly growing at an exponential rate, which greatly surpasses the rate at which the native organisms and plants adapt to their surroundings. Since we have unintentionally created this issue through various modes of transportation and carelessness, the only thing that stands in the way of invasive plants completely over running our forests and lakes is humanity; We are the only thing that can remove them at the rate that they are invading. They need to be extracted, or else they’ll keeps spreading and pushing out native plants. While there are ways that invasive plants can relocate themselves without our assistance, we’ve sped up their invasion process significantly; This is why I feel it is our duty to attend to this issue. The conflict here is that people barely notice this or care about this issue and therefore they don’t really understand what it means, because in the fast pace of society who has the time to sit down and notice this issue that hides itself so efficiently? As a kid I remember seeing Wild Parsnip in my grandma’s backyard, and to me it was just a yellow flower that resembled Queen Anne’s Lace (which was also an invasive plant species native to Europe and South West Asia, but overtime has naturalized itself). I didn’t think of it, much less feel concerned about it. So what if plants from Asia and Europe come in and replace the plants that are already here? If they fit in over there, why can’t they fit in here? Some of them even look pretty and add variety to the landscapes, so what’s the big deal? These are some of the questions and comments that I would expect from an audience, and they’re very reasonable. I wish we could live in a world where there were beautiful Tatarian Honeysuckle and Yellow Floating Heart blooming all around us in Vermont, seemlessly blending with our ecosystems. But unfortunately as lovely as some invasive plants appear to be, and as insignificant and innocent as they seem, they create an imbalance that will directly affect the organisms in that ecosystem, which will indirectly affect us through a chain of different changes in that particular ecosystem.

I have already compiled a list of people and organizations who are currently taking action. I’ve even contacted a few of them to get their thoughts and opinions. One woman named Elizabeth Lee who works with The Lake Champlain Maritime Museum and specializes in aquatic plants and animals wrote back to me and provided some very helpful opinions and answers. We had a bit of conversation regarding the threat that came with Invasive Plants, and I talked to her a bit about the invasive plants that invade our forests, since she was not as familiar with those being an aquatic specialist. She agreed with me that “public education campaigns and good research on distribution and natural history of these species” was a good way to begin educating the communities of Vermont on this issue. I’ve also contacted a few other people who are going to send me their opinions on the subject later on.

There are lot of things at stake for people with this topic. Includes, the spread of invasive plants containing phototoxic sap that causes irritation to human skin, a decrease in property value, a change in soil chemistry affecting the agriculture of certain areas, loss of habitat for some woodland and aquatic critters, a loss in biodiversity (which can be explained more elaborately in my slide shows), an increase in Lyme disease carrying ticks (according to the website http://www.vtinvasives.org/plants/impact-invasives/human-health, “Heavy infestations of barberry – a thorny, multi-branching shrub – make particularly good hiding places for mice and cause populations to increase. Mice are an alternate host for Lyme disease”). When invasive shrubs and bushes invade they create massive barriers between tree sapling and sunlight/rainfall (two factors that are critical in a tree’s growth) and prevent forest regeneration. The poor root structure of certain invasive plants can also make speed up soil erosion, which inadvertently creates nitrogen and phosphorus runoffs into our rivers which pollutes them (there are other causes of phosphorus runoffs, most of which can be blamed on people, some just occur solely on the fact that farms and residential areas are just built too close to river, I’m not blaming phosphorus and nitrogen runoffs on the invasive plants, but they certainly do add the number of runoffs). These are just a few of the negative impacts that invasive plants introduce to our ecosystems. Here’s the other thing though. For someone to clear an acre of invasive plants, depending on the location and type of invasive (and other variable) it can cost anywhere from $200-$800 to remove the invasive plants. In just one acre! imagine if we swept through Vermont, a cleared every harmful invasive? It would cost a fortune! This is why I think it’s important to spread the word of invasive plants. If more people volunteered time and worked together to create a system where we could eradicate these plants we’d would be heading on the right track to obtaining biodiversity. It seems silly to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to fix this issue that we’ve created.

To conclude this enormous blog post (if you’ve been kept with it for this long, thank you, because it’s taken me ages to proof read it and clarify my statements but I felt it was necessary to make all of these connections and elaborate on some of these things) I’d like to sum up what I’m seeking in a few sentences. I’m seeking a change in human habit. I’m seeking to educate those who have no idea this issue exists. However mostly, I’m seeking a Vermont that is clean and happy, and can thrive the way it should.

 

Brynna Kearns

4 Responses to “Invasive Plants Slide Show

  • Emily Rinkema
    4 years ago

    Wow, Brynna! What a great post. Don’t apologize for how long it is–it was so passionate and well-organized, and I was with you the whole time. Your passion is contagious, and some of your analysis was so beautifully written. One of my favorite passages: “I wish we could live in a world where there were beautiful Tatarian Honeysuckle and Yellow Floating Heart blooming all around us in Vermont, seemlessly blending with our ecosystems. But unfortunately as lovely as some invasive plants appear to be, and as insignificant and innocent as they seem, they create an imbalance that will directly affect the organisms in that ecosystem, which will indirectly affect us through a chain of different changes in that particular ecosystem.” This is just great. So vivid and engaging.

    Your slide show is excellent–so informative; but I think your gut is right to cut it some. You won’t have much time, and if you present too much information, you could lose the audience. The puzzle metaphor works really well! That might be something to begin with? Or even beginning with a picture of Honeysuckle or Floating Heart and then sharing the above quote…leading so nicely into the puzzle metaphor?

    I’m so impressed with your work, Brynna. I can’t wait to see where you go with this!

    Emily

    • Hi Emily,

      Thank you for your thoughtful comment! I was wondering if you had any opinions on which specific slides or ideas I should cut back on in the slide show. While looking it over today it was hard for me to determine what information wasn’t a necessary. My issue is that I want this topic to make sense to the entire audience by providing context and examples, however I don’t want to branch away from the big idea, which is reclaiming biodiversity in Vermont’s ecosystems. Thanks and let me know what you think.

      – Brynna

  • Emily Rinkema
    4 years ago

    Hi Brynna–Sorry it took a few days to get back to you here! I looked at the slide show again, and here are some specific suggestions based on your questions. First, keep in mind the difference between slides and notecards. You can have notes that you use when presenting that have all the information on them, but the slides are for your audience to view, and shouldn’t have as many words. For example, in slide 7, consider just including the verbs (Educate, Study, Remove, Prevent) in bullets, and then you can have the full sentences on your note card. Give the audience the most important words, and fill in the others with your actual presentation.

    The puzzle is such an effective metaphor, so I would consider starting with that (after a title slide, maybe). Maybe start with the question from slide 3 at the top of slide 4. That means cutting the first few slides completely! (remember you can say some of that stuff in your pres). Finally, I would suggest ending with the puzzle again–tying that into what you plan to do.

    I love your topic, and I look forward to watching you become even more targeted as you continue!

    Emily

  • Ceci Lewis
    4 years ago

    Brynna,
    Please accept my apology for my delayed response. I have been up to my eyeballs in metaphorical alligators over here in the desert. I love the image of the jigsaw puzzle that you use in your presentation. Certainly one species of invasive plants can alter the environment, and when there are multiple invasives, then picture can alter permanently and radically.
    When I was reading your message, I was particularly struck by this idea you present: “Nature is constantly changing and evolving, and I’m not in a position to delay the process of evolution whatsoever. However we’ve played a huge role in speeding up the process of spreading these harmful invasive plants without even being aware of it. It’s already creating more of an imbalance then there would naturally be which is not good at all. ” Nature is always changing, and as a result, we often change with it, without recognizing how these changes may affect our communities later. Many indigenous people live by the seven generation idea. What am I doing today that will affect seven generations down the road, or my great, great, great , great, great, great grandchildren. You get the picture. This is something we should all be asking ourselves.
    Particularly impressive in your journal entry is that you recognize and understand that you cannot change the invasion of all plants, but that you can focus on halting or eradicating those plants that are brought to VT via traffic or recreational vehicles. Powerful!
    Arizona has a beautiful climate, as you are probably aware. Many people moved here for health reasons and then when they arrived, they wished that they could bring their home lifestyle with them. As a result, many planted Bermuda grass and Mulberry trees to make themselves feel more comfortable in their new home. Guess what? Both of these species are not only high water uses, something the desert doesn’t have a great deal of, but they are also air pollutants. Unknowingly, people were planting the very plants that promoted allergic reactions in individuals and that threatened our already limited water resources. Arizona has since outlawed the selling of and planting of Mulberry trees, and hopefully will follow suit with Bermuda grass. What do you think can happen in Vermont for those whose boats or vehicles are bringing in unwanted plant life?
    I wish I could be at your retreat this weekend because I would love to hear the passion in your voice that I can read in your writing. You are really on to something here. Good luck!

Leave a Reply Text

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

css.php
Skip to toolbar