Presenting the 2023 Invasive Plant Action Awards Winners

September 6, 2023 | News

Principia School of St. Louis is the winner in the Individual Organization category, awarded to an organization with outstanding contributions to the long-term management of invasive plant species and working to control the spread of invasive plants. Principia School is a longstanding independent school for infants through high school seniors. In 2014, Principia began incorporating “outdoor learning spaces.” In this process, they cleared bush honeysuckle and autumn olive, involving students in the removal and control of these invasive plants. In 2015, Principia cleared a 16-acre area of honeysuckle.

Since then, the school has mechanically cleared and chemically maintained a total of 48 acres, as well as carried out a multitude of other invasive plant control activities.

Principia has implemented the importance of learning about both native plants and invasive plant species in school curricula. The school involves its students in the control of invasives on campus, as well as teaches them about proper removal and control elsewhere. This initiative led to the development of  programs at Principia, such as “The Impact Challenge,” wherein three high school students led a student team in invasive plant removal.

Dale Dufer of St. Louis is the winner in the Individual Citizen category, awarded to an individual citizen for outstanding work to fight the spread of invasive plants. Dale is the mastermind behind the bush honeysuckle awareness project called “Think About Tables,” which he started in 2014. Nearly ten years later, Think About Tables has led to bi-annual collaborations and development of school curricula for the removal of honeysuckle, as well as increased awareness of both this invasive plant and how essential native plants are. He even went as far as to put Bush Honeysuckle on “trial” on April 4, 2018, which launched an Invasive Species Mock Trial Curriculum in 2019.

Dale’s work to tackle an invasive plant sprouted from his skills, spirit, physical capacity, and his rich personal ecology of relationships-in-place. He’s modest about what he has achieved, enjoys seeding success for others, and focusing on fun while accomplishing serious results. As Dale likes to say, “Who knew all this could come from playing with sticks?’”

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