Junior Invasive Species Specialist Ben

May 15, 2020

After accidentally stepping on “a grey pokey thing that grows in the water” at Kingston Beach, everything changed for six-year-old Ben in regard to his passion for learning and fighting invasive species.

Since that first encounter with a water chestnut, the WVLT Junior Invasive Species Specialist has learned about other invasives such as garlic mustard, bittersweet, and lionfish.


Steph and Ben Pulling Bittersweet


His passion is as broad as it is deep. Last summer, Ben and his mom joined the WVLT for one of our invasive species removal work trips on Joppenbergh Mountain. The volunteer work also involved a friendly competition to see who could remove the longest oriental bittersweet root. Ben won by pulling up a root almost 10 feet long!



During the COVID-19 related school closures, Ben has been writing books for his kindergarten teacher, Miss Collins, who lives in his neighborhood. The books included a guidebook to his favorite invasive species to fight: garlic mustard. He says it’s his favorite because it smells like garlic when you rub the leaves together (you can read his book below).


When asked what other kids should know if they want to join the fight against invasive species, Ben said, “They keep growing and growing because that’s what invasive means. And when they grow, the other plants die. Because they have other plants growing near the roots and taking all the water. And there’s no predators. Kids should help so the whole world doesn’t have them!


Well, keep up the good work Ben, we hope to see you on more invasive species work trips in the future!

“Get out of here Garlic Mustard” by Ben

Garlic Mustard has tiny white flowers.

The leaves are like a garlic scratch and smell.

Garlic Mustard is invasive.
Garlic Mustard grows in your backyard Ms. Collins!

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