The River to River CWMA is participating in a summer internship program sponsored the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Southern Illinois University Center for Ecology, Illinois Nature Preserves Commission, and the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation. This 9-week summer internship provides students with the opportunity to learn about invasive species and participate in both management and research in or related to natural areas. As part of the internship, the students become members of the Natural Areas Association (NAA) and present their internship research at NAA's national conference. The CWMA has been involved in this program since 2008 and, so far, seven interns have been placed with the CWMA.
For the summer 2011, the CWMA welcomed Lindsay Shupert and Jordan Kiefer as our two interns. The internship provided Lindsay and Jordan the opportunity to work with a variety of agencies and groups on invasive species projects, including the Shawnee National Forest, Illinois DNR, Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge, Cypress Creek National Wildlife Refuge, Green Earth, Inc., Illinois Audubon Society, and The Nature Conservancy. Lindsay and Jordan also took the lead in designing and installing the new invasive species interpretive trail at Giant City State Park.
For their research projects, Jordan studied the effectiveness of the curly pondweed eradication program at Mermet Lake and Lindsay collected baseline ecological data on Japanese chaff flower, a new invader to Illinois natural areas.
Misty McElyea was the lone CWMA intern for 2010. During her internship, Misty helped manage invasive plants on National Wildlife Refuges, National Forests, State Natural Areas, and on Green Earth public lands. Misty also helped establish research plots for Japanese stiltgrass control, to evaluate the effectiveness of different control methods. She also took the lead on organizing, advertising, and conducting an educational hike on invasive species at Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge.
Misty's research investigated the effectiveness of boot brush stations at removing invasive plant seeds from hikers shoes. Boot Brush stations have been placed at Natural Area entry points throughout the CWMA in order to keep invasive species out of these areas. Her project ended up being the focus of an Outdoor Illinois article in the Invasive Species Special Issue (May 2011). You can find that article at: http://www.dnr.illinois.gov/OI/Documents/May11BootBrush.pdf. The poster from this presentation can be viewed here.
Mame Redwood and Derek Evans were selected to be CWMA interns in the second year of the program. Mame and Derek worked closely with Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge to control teasel, continued the CWMA boat ramps surveys with focus on ramps located along rivers, and helped the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission post nature preserve boundaries.
For their internship research, Mame investigated the progression of invasion of Autumn olive at an old field on Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge and Derek researched the dynamics of two invasives, Japanese stiltgrass and Japanese hops, along Hutchins Creek.
Guy Schmale and Cassandra Wilcoxen landed the first two internship positions with the CWMA. Guy and Cassandra worked on a wide variety of invasive species projects including conducting terrestrial invasive species inventories on State Nature Preserves, State Parks, USFWS refuges and Forest Service Natural Areas. They were also involved in a CWMA-wide effort to inventory area waters by collecting aquatic invasive species data at public boat ramps, discovering several species that are of concern to CWMA land managing partners. They also worked with some private landowners which turned out to be a very positive experience for the students, landowners and CWMA.
For their research, Guy worked to test the effectiveness the EZ-Jet Herbicide Lance Injector at controlling Oriental Bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus). And Cassandra mapped the results of the aquatic plant survey.