Earlier this week a few of us went to the Wyoming Weed Management Association meeting in Casper. I am a PhD student with Brian Mealor and he often gives his grad students opportunities to give presentations at all kinds of meetings. A few weeks ago he asked if I would be willing to give a presentation at this meeting. The topic was on new weeds to be aware of in Wyoming, but he also wanted me to add a section on Early Detection Rapid Response (EDRR).
My first summer (2012) working with Brian I gave a presentation at a herbicide training meeting where I focused on weeds that they needed to know. I talked about the current Wyoming noxious weeds, current weeds which are issues, and weeds that aren’t issues yet, but that we don’t want. That presentation didn’t go as well as I would have liked. After a while it just got repetitive (here is this weed, this is what it looks like, these are its characteristics; here is this weed….). I didn’t want to have that happen again so I was slightly worried about how to change. I also had to include the EDRR information. I did have access to 4-5 presentations that I could pull slides from, but I had to make it mine and have it make sense. I was able to add a few things that were completely me and it was nice to be able to have slides that I could just use rather than spending time re-inventing the wheel.
I think overall the presentation went well. I was able to have it flow and hopefully everyone understood the points I was trying to express. One reason it is intimidating to give presentations is that Brian is such a good presenter, so in the back of my mind I am almost always comparing myself to a higher standard. The room we were in was difficult. It was wide with two projection screens so I didn’t really want to use the pointer. It was also hard to know where to stand. I wanted to be more towards the middle, between the screens, but that way I had to turn my head to check which slide I was on or check on animations. They also had a wireless hands-free microphone which was nice even though I tend to not like microphones. That is definitely a skill I am still working on, how to use a microphone. One other thing I am constantly working on is my wording. I have almost trained myself to not use ‘um’ or ‘ah’, but what I still need to break myself from is having a word in my head that I want to use, going blank on that word and stalling out. For this presentation I managed to get though the entire thing, expect for basically the last slide before that happened.
Presentations are an important part for all grad students and it has been a wonderful opportunity having Brian as an adviser because he does a lot of work with extension which gives us many chances to speak. Being able to give presentations is important for all grad students because before we finish, we will all have to defend our projects, and there are always other times where we need to be able to speak to people. I like having the opportunity to speak to people and I like it so much more when the occasions are a bit more casual where there is more interaction between the audience and the speaker.
Just some thoughts on EDRR: Wyoming is doing very well with EDRR, there have been some species that have been strongly controlled. If we can find and manage populations when they are small and new, the probability of success will be much higher with decreased costs. There is a lag period when a species comes into an area. This lag time means that the population will maintain small size or very slowly increase until the population begins to rapidly increase until that increase is exponential. This shows how important it is to find and control new populations as soon as possible. Understanding neighboring issues can help guide what weeds need to be watched for. Everyone is responsible for looking, reporting, and controlling new weeds.
The species that were emphasized:
– Dame’s rocket (very showy pink/red flowering plant, check wildflower mixes for contamination, noxious in CO)
– Viper’s bugloss (blueweed, showy bright blue flowers, toxic alkaloids, lost opportunity for EDRR, becoming more common in WY, now it is a control issue)
– Common teasel (biennial, 6 ft tall with prickly stems and spiny flower heads, can persist for seasons)
– Mediterranean sage (biennial, 3 ft tall, woolly hairs, aromatic scent)
– Medusahead wildrye (annual grass, many awns 1-4 inches long, reduces grazing up to 80%. Very important for EDRR, we do not want this to come in.)
– Ventenata grass (similar to cheatgrass, fewer florets, bent awns, reddish brown nodes and long ligule. Again right now we have kept this out and we do not want it.)
– Rush skeletonweed (perennial, bushy in appearance with almost no leaves, 1-4 ft tall, yellow flowers, very good example for EDRR)
– Yellow starthistle (annual, 2-3 ft tall, slightly branching stems, yellow flowers with 3-4 in long thorns, very good work with EDRR)
– Austrian fieldcress (mustard, basal rosette with 1-3 flowering stems, new to the state, emphasize strength of EDRR)
– Moth mullein (biennial, noxious in CO, 2-5 ft tall, 5 inch elliptic leaves with shallow teeth and pointed tips, unbranched stems, 1 in yellow flowers with orange stamens like moth antennae, 2 finds in Wyoming, both controlled, very strong illustration of how EDRR works (check distribution map on USDA plants database))
– Russian sage (not currently considered a weed, sold in landscaping, mint family, 3-5 ft tall, 2-4 ft wide, looks like lavender, aromatic, gray-green lobed leaves, something to watch for spread, ‘sleeper weed’)
– The Wyoming Weed Watchlist field guide is a good reference for new weeds coming into Wyoming.