Get outside and get involved!
Our Advisor, Dan Wilkins, wants you to Pull Your Share of Knapweed.
By Dan Wilkins, North Central Advisor, Reach Higher Montana
Join the Pull Your Share Movement. Do you enjoy camping, boating, hiking, backpacking, hunting or fishing in Montana’s great outdoors?
Do you know that Montana’s wildlife habitat and agricultural lands are being taken over by knapweed? Knapweed is a non-native noxious weed that releases approximately 1,000 seeds per adult plant each year and puts a toxin in the soil called catechin. Catechin prohibits the growth of other plants, including grasses that are needed by wildlife and domestic livestock for their survival. Currently there are approximately 2.5 million acres of land in Montana infested with knapweed. Wildlife and domestic livestock cannot use knapweed as an alternative food source because knapweed does not have enough nutritional value to sustain life. If knapweed is allowed to spread unchecked, there will be less wildlife habitat and thus less wildlife and recreational opportunities. Our agricultural lands will produce less food products with higher input costs which leads to higher food prices for all of us.
The solution is to kill knapweed at a rate greater than it reproduces. To do this we need to inspire teachers, students and all recreationists to Pull Their Share of knapweed. Pull Your Share field trips do just that.
The Success of Pull Your Share field trips:
Pull You Share field trips began in May of 2017 with one teacher and two students adopting a boat launch in Sun River Canyon and pulling knapweed. Every year since, the Pull Your Share Project has seen tremendous growth. In 2018, 61 students and teachers participated, in 2019, 199 students and teachers participated. This year nearly 400 students and teachers from 5 schools plan to participate. Students enjoy Pull Your Share field trips and often say they are their favorite field trips.
Each teacher with their students adopt a trailhead, section of trail, campsite or boat launch that they return to each May to provide year after year sustained knapweed pulling. The students also install Pull Your Share signs at their adopted sites to encourage all recreationists to Pull 5 to 15 minutes per outing. Currently we have 11 sites adopted. In areas where Pull Your Share signs are installed, recreationists are pulling knapweed! Pull Your Share field trips are supported by the National Forest Service Rocky Mountain District, Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks, county conservation districts, county weed districts, the Sun River Water Shed Group, and the Green Field Irrigation District. Pull Your Share field trips have been featured in articles in the Great Falls Tribune each year and in 2019 was featured in a USA Today national publication.
The goals of Pull Your Share field trips are:
Career exploration in the area of land stewardship
Noxious weed education
Sustained year after year noxious weed reduction at adopted sites
Motivate all recreationist to Pull Their Share
Instill in students the importance of community service to enhance our common good and enjoyment of life.
How Pull Your Share Field Trips Work:
After contacting and coordinating with your county weed district or conservation district etc. (Funds can be obtained through county conservation districts.)
Students travel to their adopted noxious weed site.
The host (a natural resource professional) talks about his or her career and the pathway they took to obtain it.
The host gives a noxious weed/knapweed educational presentation.
The students led by their host pull knapweed and install Pull Your Share signs
During lunch – The host thanks the students and talks about the importance of community service.
The media is invited to each event to promote the project across the state.
Imagine if every May, students from every school across the state went to adopted sites to pull knapweed, the reduction in knapweed would be substantial!
You can do your part by learning to identify knapweed from pictures and then pulling 5 to 15 minutes per outing when you see knapweed. Encourage others to do the same. The accumulative effect of recreationists across the state pulling knapweed will result in a substantial reduction in knapweed.
Careers: For students thinking about a career in land management, there are many careers in noxious weed control. The U.S. Forest Service, Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks, Bureau of Land Management and County Weed Districts all employ many people both with and without college degrees to help manage noxious weeds.
For more information on starting a Pull Your Share field trip, learning what you can do as a recreationist, or to learn about careers in land management please contact: Dan Wilkins, Reach Higher Montana Advisor at: firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 406-750-6695
Reach Higher Montana is passionate about helping Montana high school students achieve personal success in education, career, and life. Our advisors can help guide you along your individual path. To find the closest advisor to you, click here. Stay informed, sign up for our newsletter and like our Facebook and Instagram page so you don’t miss out.