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Who would have thought a simple task like pulling weeds could be a news story. Well when you have some 90 determined young women and adults pulling a combined 900 pounds of non-native, invasive plants for a state park and protecting native species like multiple rare butterflies in the process, it’s news. During their annual week of camp, the Young Women of the Washington, D.C. Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints participated in an extensive service project for New Germany State Park—one of 75 state parks in Maryland. Stake Young Women Camp Director Erin Huband arranged the service project with park manager Erin Thomas who let Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) media team know how amazed she was with what these young volunteers accomplished. 

The media team posted a news release of the service project on its state-wide Natural Resources News page, on the Maryland DNR Facebook and Twitter pages and emailed the news release to its distribution list including organizations and news outlets.  This week the media team featured the extensive weed pulling story in its August newsletter.

All in all, this service project has been shared with hundreds of thousands of readers. Was this service project all work and no play? No way.  Sister Huband said, the young women actually seemed to enjoy flexing their muscles and ripping out honeysuckles and other invasive plants. Here’s what the news release says: 

New Germany State Park has a few less “botanical bullies” thanks to an ambitious group of young women from the Washington, D.C. Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 

During their annual camp in June, the group teamed up with park staff and the Friends of New Germany State Park to remove more than 900 pounds of invasive plants from park grounds. Targeted species included garlic mustard, crown vetch, coltsfoot, Japanese stiltgrass, and exotic bush honeysuckles.  

These unwanted plants spread aggressively and can out-compete native vegetation, often having negative impact on other species that depend on native vegetation for food. Garlic mustard, for example, spreads quickly and out-competes native toothwort, which is the primary food source for the West Virginia white butterfly, a rare native insect. “Controlling non-native invasive plants is one of the goals in our strategic management plan,” New Germany State Park Manager Erin Thomas said. “We really appreciate these volunteers taking some time during their camp to work with us, and I’m amazed at what they were able to accomplish.”