Thanks to Columbia Public Schools Teacher Mike Szydlowski, Honeysuckle is a much smaller nuisance in Columbia’s parks! Szydlowski, who leads The Invasive Honeysuckle Project at Science Teachers of Missouri (STOM), which coordinates honeysuckle eradication efforts locally and state-wide, has done an incredible job in Columbia. In collaboration with Columbia Parks and Recreation, he has planned countless removal events, coordinated local volunteers and given all who participate a renewed understanding of the ecological impact of invasive species. As if that weren’t enough, plant biology and ecology now come alive for all of the Columbia Public Schools students who have volunteered with him. Students have spent more than 1,647 hours to date on honeysuckle removal. According to Szydlowski, a project that started as a “one-time service learning project has expanded incredibly” with “students asking to participate again and again.”
Not only has Columbia benefited from Szydlowski’s efforts, but the impact state-wide has been critical. With more than 1,210,000 honeysuckle plants removed so far, Szydlowski is truly changing Missouri’s landscape. He has found it “very rewarding to work with the Columbia Parks and Recreation Department” and hopes to keep the program moving along.
Written by volunteer Elizabeth Miller