Non-native, invasive plants pose a serious threat to the health of our parks. Find out more about the problem and how you can help!
Current Certified Weed Warriors
Please remember to log your volunteer service hours and keep your contact information up-to-date.
The Weed Warrior Volunteer Program
The Weed Warrior Volunteer Program was created in 1999 to empower community members to help Montgomery Parks staff manage non-native, invasive plants (NNIs) on parkland. Volunteers are taught to properly identify and manage specific species of NNIs using best management practices. Weed Warrior volunteers have logged over 112,000 hours of service since 1999 and have made an incredible contribution to the control of NNIs in Montgomery County Parks!
Two Ways to Get Involved
Become a Certified Weed Warrior Volunteer
Once you’re a trained Certified Weed Warrior Volunteer, you’ll be authorized to control NNIs on Montgomery Parkland without supervision. We know it’s tempting, but it’s against Montgomery Parks rules and regulations to remove plant material from a park unless authorized.
New Certified Weed Warriors start at Level 1, authorized to control our top 6 priority NNI vines on Parkland. (Level 2 Weed Warrior Certification includes further training and authorizes volunteers to control an additional 12 priority NNI species.) The minimum age for certification is 16 years.
The Training Requirements for Level 1 Weed Warrior Certification are:
• Participate in at least 2 Weed Warrior Workdays, which are listed on this webpage (events are added regularly)
• Complete two online e-courses at your own pace
• Attend a classroom and field training with Montgomery Parks Staff
Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to get started on your Level 1 Weed Warrior Certification training.
Join a Group Weed Warrior Workday
Want to help without becoming a Certified Weed Warrior? We offer Public Group Weed Warrior Workdays throughout the year at parks across the county — no advanced training required. These NNI management events are led by specially-trained volunteer Weed Warrior Supervisors and/or Parks staff, are approximately 2 hours in duration, and they’re a great way to start learning how to identify and remove NNIs!
Interested in joining a Group Weed Warrior Workday? Please visit this webpage to see our upcoming events.
What is a Non-native, Invasive Plant?
Most natural communities support a great variety of native plants and animals. Such biodiversity is threatened when a few plant species take over and dominate the herbaceous, shrub, or canopy layers of a forest.
Non-native, invasive plant species (NNIs) can alter the complex webs of plant-animal associations that have evolved over thousands of years to such a degree that plants and animals once familiar to us are eliminated. In meadows, for example, NNI monocultures can threaten butterfly populations because they can no longer find the native host plants they depend on for survival. In forests, NNI vines can strangle and smother trees. NNI shrubs can displace and shade out native plants that provide birds and other wildlife with food and shelter. Recent research has shown that NNIs can even alter soil chemistry and disrupt the growth of the mycorrhizal fungi on which healthy forests depend. In short, NNIs are causing significant changes in the composition, structure, and ecosystem function of our natural areas.
A typical NNI plant has some or all of the following characteristics:
- Grows fast and matures early.
- Spreads quickly over large areas.
- Thrives in many habitats.
- Reproduces profusely by seed and/or vegetative structures.
- Survives and produces seeds under adverse environmental conditions.
- Has few known diseases or pests.
By their very nature, NNIs are difficult to control. Often it requires a mix of mechanical, chemical, and hand removal efforts to be successful. The key is to find NNI populations when they are small and remove them before they become established.
Give a Gift of Green!
You can also help by donating. Learn how you can give or dedicate a “Gift of Green” for various commemorative purposes, to honor a person, group or occasion; memorialize a family member, friend, or colleague; celebrate a birthday, an anniversary, or another special event. Visit the Montgomery Parks Foundation to learn more.