The Annual Invader Crusader Awards

Each year, the Wisconsin Invasive Species Council honors Wisconsin citizens and organizations for their significant contribution to prevent, control or eradicate invasive species that harm Wisconsin’s lands, waters and wetlands.

The Wisconsin Invasive Species Council is currently accepting nominations for the 16th Annual Invader Crusader Awards.

If you want to nominate an individual or group for their commitment to addressing invasive species issues, please download and complete the 2020 Invader Crusader nomination form. You must download and save the blank form to your computer and then fill it out. If you fill it out before you download the form, your information will not be saved. Once completed, save and email the completed copy to If you are unable to fill out the form on your computer, please print the blank form then scan and email it

Completed applications are due by no later than Monday, March 23, 2020. Email is strongly preferred, but if this is not possible, please call Tara Bergeson at 608-264-6043 for mailing instructions and an earlier due date.

All nominators and winners will be notified in late April and invited to attend an awards ceremony in June in Madison, WI.

Nominators and award winners will be contacted via email with details about the ceremony, and this information will also be shared here and in the news media.

Congratulations to the 2019 Invader Crusader Award Winners!

  • Maureen Ferry is a knowledgeable and dedicated aquatic invasive species monitoring specialist with the DNR. She has addressed one of the greatest risks of spread for aquatic invasive species by leading the development of a decontamination manual code. She has also developed new monitoring protocols and works with database managers to better monitor invasive species. Because of Maureen’s expertise, Wisconsin has a better picture of where invasives are located and how to stop them from spreading.
  • Emily Heald is the water program coordinator at North Lakeland Discovery Center in Manitowish Waters. For three years, Emily has managed lake and river protection programs in Vilas County townships. Emily engages people of all ages and backgrounds using creative approaches, including a place-based “Float Your Boat” trivia contest where contestants play from pontoon boats and the Purple Loosestrife Project that engages students in a project to control the invasive species using predatory insects.
  • The Aldo Leopold Foundation is recognized for its role in establishing and managing the Leopold-Pine Island Important Bird Area near Baraboo. Using active management techniques, such as timber harvesting, prescribed burning and forestry mowing, the Aldo Leopold Foundation has helped create critical habitat for 24 high priority bird species. The Foundation also plays a critical role in developing young leaders in conservation and educating landowners, professionals and college students.
  • The Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa is recognized for a highly ambitious invasive species project to eradicate and replace non-native Phragmites from three wastewater treatment plants in northern Wisconsin. To accomplish this work, project leaders Chad Abel and Gabrielle VanBergen secured funding in the multi-million-dollar range and worked with diverse partners across jurisdictional and tribal boundaries. As the leaders of this initiative, the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa has taken steps to improve the health of Lake Superior, its watersheds and the lives and livelihoods of people who live there.
  • DATCP’s Nursery Inspector Team works on the front line of invasive species detection and regulation. Nursery inspectors monitor over 1,000 plant growers and dealers, with the goal of detecting and halting the sale of regulated invasive species. Their work helps prevent the introduction of invasive species to Wisconsin’s natural areas and the subsequent efforts that would be needed to manage them. The nursery inspectors go above and beyond to stay abreast of activities within their territories and are incredibly knowledgeable about invasive species issues.
  • Rod Sharka’s personal mission as the volunteer land manager at Tenderfoot Reserve is to eradicate honeysuckle from the property, and he has succeeded over most of the 900+ acre reserve. Rod has also built partnerships with neighboring landowners, like the Natural Lakes landowner group who he trained to survey, map and manage honeysuckle infestations. He is a tireless advocate for native habitats and is passionate about sharing this knowledge so people can not only manage their lands for health but enjoy those healthy lands.
  • Douglas H. Frazer is Village President and Weed Commissioner for the Village of Fox Point. Douglas has substantially influenced citizen understanding of invasive species and has led the way in removal and eradication of noxious weeds and plants. In 2018, Douglas created the No Grow Cooperative, a program through which residents can borrow buckthorn removal equipment free of charge. Douglas also spearheaded the enactment of a new Village ordinance banning garlic mustard and buckthorn. These innovative techniques have been warmly received by Fox Point residents, helping to elevate community support for invasive species management.
  • For the last two years, Michael Vahldieck has been a dedicated and hardworking volunteer for Dane County Parks. He works diligently to detect, map and remove invasive species and keeps careful records of his work. His mapping and control work at Walking Iron County Park helped save a high-quality remnant sand prairie from brush encroachment, increasing habitat for many prized prairie species. While he does not seek out recognition, other volunteers notice his dedication and strong work ethic. He has been a regular and reliable volunteer who helps to foster a friendly atmosphere for other participants, especially new volunteers.
  • Donna VanBuecken has worked with invasive species for over forty years, beginning as an at-large member of the Wild Ones and then as a founding member of the Fox Valley chapter, where she has served on the board of directors for over 20 years. She was also one of the founding members of the Invasive Plants Association of Wisconsin and was on the board for the first five years. Donna’s work with the Wild Ones focuses on native habitat restoration while recognizing the necessity of controlling invasive plants as a vital first step. She also does outreach to hunting and fishing groups and reaches countless students through the Wild Ones Seeds for Education program.
  • The Woodland Dunes Barberryans is a dedicated volunteer group at the Woodland Dunes Nature Center and Preserve in Two Rivers. They have contributed thousands of hours of volunteer match in an ongoing emerald ash borer mitigation project that includes planting 3,000 trees annually over four years and building an understory of diverse native plants. The Barberryans also engage hundreds of school-age children, college interns and adult peers in habitat restoration and land management projects. With limited funding, the Barberryans put their boots on the ground with the best-known practices of today and make things happen.
  • The Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration is a religious congregation in La Crosse. Through the creation of a land management plan, the FSPA committed to vigorous control of invasive species on their 200-acre property. After 8 years of work, nearly all mature invasives have been removed. Their hard work has helped them restore oak habitat and reduce invasive seed from washing into a trout stream watershed. The FSPA views invasive control as part of a larger land ethic that also includes efforts on the property to farm organically, restore waterways and oak habitat, and plant prairies to help pollinators and reduce agricultural runoff.

Previous Award Winners


  • Katelin Anderson
  • Tim Gerber
  • Brad Herrick
  • Johnson’s Nursery – Menomonee Falls
  • Ruth Marshall
  • Milly Thissen
  • Jim Reinartz and Jill Hapner
  • Friends of Festge Park


  • Christa Schaefer
  • Jeff Epping
  • Jared Urban
  • Robert and Dorothy Moe
  • Pam Nelson
  • Daniel Pawlak
  • Mark Acherman
  • Friends of the Eau Claire Lakes Area (FOTECLA) and the Town of Barnes Aquatic Invasive Species Committee (TOBAISC)


  • Debra Feirer
  • Fritz Funk
  • Fred and Mary Kueffer
  • Valerie Stabenow
  • Tim Campbell
  • Michelle Nault
  • Brock Woods
  • Lower Chippewa Invasive Species Partnership
  • Mequon Nature Preserve Restoration Rangers
  • Sauk Prairie Conservation Alliance
  • Mike Fort


  • Sherry Speth
  • Paul Molzina
  • Jamie Kosloski
  • Christal Campbell
  • Kaycie Stushek
  • Friends of MacKenzie Center
  • Florence County Lakes and Rivers Association

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