By Brian Russart
It is always a special privilege to be a part of a dynamic organization that is supported by enthusiastic volunteers. The energy generated from that type of situation really propels successful organizations towards achieving lofty goals.
I really feel that SEWISC is beginning to mature into the type of organization that will be a leader in educating the residents of southeastern Wisconsin on the challenges presented by invasive species to all of our lives.
I could spend pages reminiscing about SEWISC's accomplishments in 2011. However, accomplishments no matter how impressive, reside in the past and it is to the future that we now turn our attention as an organization. We have been fortunate to once again receive a funding grant from our partners at the U.S. Forest Service. This year's funding will allow SEWISC to build on the foundation that it has so carefully laid. These resources will allow us as an organization to conduct the second annual roadside survey, which will generate precious data that we can then distribute to our partner organizations, local governments, and private landowners.
Last year's roadside surveys definitely showed the need for effective rapid response control of pioneering populations of select invasive species. With that challenge in mind, SEWISC will be working through the logistics of developing a pilot invasive species NIMBY (Not in My Backyard) team to assist private landowners and partner organizations within Ozaukee County. If this concept model works well, SEWISC can then work to develop similar teams in the rest of our focus counties.
Finally, the majority of the USFS funding will be going towards hiring the organization's first Executive Director. I am very excited to say that after an exhaustive search the best candidate was also the most logical choice. The Board of Directors has hired Jill Hapner, our former president, who knows SEWISC and its goals better than anyone else. She has been a proven leader within the organization and has the specific skills sets to advance our strategic plan, develop creative partnerships to assist with future funding, and assist with all the other vital logistical needs of a young organization.
SEWISC is looking forward to another exceptional year, and by working together with our partners and volunteers we will continue building on our previous endeavors.