BEDFORD – Hoosier National Forest Supervisor, Mike Chaveas, proudly presented Gillian Field with the 2021 Volunteer Leadership Award from the USDA Forest Service’s Eastern Region.
The award was presented to Field on February 9th during a virtual meeting of the Monroe County-Identify and Reduce Invasive Species (MC-IRIS), a non-profit organization she is an active member of.
In her role with MC-IRIS, Field reached out to the Hoosier National Forest’s botanist in 2020 with concern about the invasive Japanese stilt grass on the Forest’s Hays Trail in Monroe County. After determining the Forest could use assistance in managing this invasive, as hand pulling was the only approved treatment in the Charles C. Deam Wilderness, Field took the lead in organizing volunteers.
She created an online volunteer sign-up for workdays, complete with automatic reminder emails, for the MC-IRIS website. In cooperation with the Forest, MC-IRIS volunteers accomplished 133 hours of invasive removal in 9 workdays in the Fall of 2020. Evidence of this initial effort was seen the following year with native annuals inhabiting some of the areas that were previously infested with Japanese stilt grass.
Building on the success of 2020, Field returned to the project in 2021, adding another Monroe County trail – Pate Hollow. She organized one workday on each of the three trails in the spring, to map and pull other invasives (garlic mustard, multiflora rose). In addition, she organized 13 fall workdays to continue work on the Japanese stilt grass. Volunteers contributed 205 hours removing invasives from 9.5 miles of Hoosier National Forest trails in 2021.
“Gillian’s endless energy and positive outlook created a group of volunteers that input 338 hours of service work that could not have been accomplished by Forest Service personnel in the two years. Her dedication and perseverance mean this project will continue on the Hoosier National Forest in the future to help inspire volunteers to be stewards on other public and private lands as they learn how to identify and treat invasive species,” said Cheryl Coon, Forest Botanist, in her nomination of Field for the award.
“It’s been wonderful to develop such a great partnership with the Hoosier National Forest,” said Ellen Jacquart, President of MC-IRIS. Field expressed her appreciation and noted how thrilled she was for MC-IRIS.