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National Invasive Species Awareness Week Celebrates 20th Anniversary

WESTMINSTER, Colorado – February 22, 2019 – This year marks the 20th anniversary of National Invasive Species Awareness Week (NISAW), an event focused on how to prevent and manage the devastating damage caused by unwanted, biological invaders. Originally founded by the Weed Science Society of America (WSSA) as  National Invasive Weeds Awareness Week (NIWAW), the event was broadened to NISAW in 2010 to encompass all types of invasive species.

“Invasive species are found in every imaginable habitat – from lakes, streams and wetlands to croplands, rangelands, forests and cities,” says Lee Van Wychen, Ph.D., executive director of science policy for the WSSA. “Though we’ve come a long way in two decades, invasive species are still a multibillion dollar drain on our nation’s economy and a threat to our biological heritage. It is clear we need to focus more time, attention and resources on prevention and control.” 

One of the original WSSA organizers of NIWAW was Rob Hedberg, now with the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

“Twenty years ago a handful of us got together to raise public awareness about invasive species,” he says. “Then and now, it is all about building partnerships among federal, state and local agencies, landowners and managers, scientists, industry and everyday citizens who care about healthy ecosystems and healthy farmlands.  We are thrilled so many people are now engaged, but equally worried about how much more we need to accomplish.”

This year’s NISAW activities include a variety of free seminars, webinars and events to raise awareness about invasive species and effective controls.


Four seminars are planned in Washington, D.C.  Each is scheduled for 12 noon to 1 p.m. in the Cannon House Office Building:

  • Invasive Species 101: What are invasive species? How did they get here? How have they affected ecosystems around the world? What is being done to mitigate risks?
    • Monday, February 25, Room 122
    • Led by Belle Bergner, North American Invasive Species Management Association
  • “Fire and Water” Series, Session I: A Discussion about Invasive Species and Wildfires
    • Tuesday, February 26, Room 421
    • Led by Gina Ramos, Bureau of Land Management
  • “Fire and Water” Series, Session II: A Discussion about Aquatic Invasive Species
    • Wednesday, February 27 (check NISAW.org for room number)
    • Led by Elizabeth Brown, Colorado Parks and Wildlife
  • Resistance: A Discussion about Innovative Solutions to Invasive Species Issues through Forest and Plant Science.
    • Thursday, February 28 (check NISAW.org for room number)
    • Led by Enrico Bonello, Center for Applied Plant Sciences, The Ohio State University

 Online Webinars

The National Association of Invasive Plant Councils will offer several webinars on invasive species management, each scheduled for 3 to 4 p.m. Eastern. Click on the hyperlinks below to register.

  • Monday, February 25
  • Presented by WSSA’s Lee Van Wychen and by Nancy Rybicki, retired, United States Geological Survey
  • Tuesday, February 26
  • Presented by Carrie Brown-Lima, NY Invasive Species Research Institute, Cornell University
  • Wednesday, February 27
  • Presented by WSSA member Jason Ferrell, Florida Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants and editor of the Journal of Aquatic Plant Management

Other Activities

An interactive map available at www.nisaw.org provides information on local activities around the nation.  You will even find an online toolkit to help you plan an invasive species awareness event in your community.  

About the Weed Science Society of America

The Weed Science Society of America, a nonprofit scientific society, was founded in 1956 to encourage and promote the development of knowledge concerning weeds and their impact on the environment. The Society promotes research, education and extension outreach activities related to weeds, provides science-based information to the public and policy makers, fosters awareness of weeds and their impact on managed and natural ecosystems, and promotes cooperation among weed science organizations across the nation and around the world.  For more information, visit www.wssa.net.


Press Contact:                                               

Lee Van Wychen

Executive Director of Science Policy

National & Regional Weed Science Societies

[email protected]