Students fight invasive species

Members of the senior class participated in Senior Service Day on Tuesday, June 11, in which they provide a public service to the town. The service they provided was aiding in the removal of the invasive weed at Schenck’s Island Park, near the center of town.

“Invasive species kill native species and we are going to remove them,” said Rob Perry, a science teacher at Wilton High School who helped lead the project.

Invasive species are those that invade ecosystems and grow rampantly because the natural factors such as predators that would stop their growth are not present. They can thus grow in great numbers, overwhelm ecosystems, and choking out other plant life. Artemisia vulgaris, commonly known as mugwort or wormwood, originated in Eurasia, Mr. Perry explained, and has overgrown, killing the plants that are native to the park.

This is a global issue. The damage done by invasive specie costs $1.4 trillion annually worldwide, according to Mother Nature Network (

“This area was forest,” said Bruce Beebe, president of the Wilton Land Conservation Trust, “overgrown and neglected until the town and the land trust teamed up to clear the forest.” Ten years previously, the town of Wilton and the land trust wanted to create a park near the town center, and worked on the dense forest nearby, chopping down old trees and creating grass meadows. The artemisia has grown rapidly in these meadows, killing the grass. The job of the volunteers for senior service is to remove the artemisia so the grass can regrow.

“It’s usually easy but you have to make sure you remove the roots,” said Kyle Barnett, another volunteer, as he pulled one of the artemisia plants. But the soil that you remove must be put back to keep the ground rich.”

“It’s hard but rewarding,” said Tristan Haas, another volunteer, “but I am happy to serve my community.” Many volunteers said they were happy to be doing this work.

“It’s a great opportunity for students to make a visible contribution to the town,” said Mr. Perry. Many students not only feel good about their contribution, but enjoy the green environment that surrounds them.

Emilie Ricco chimed in, “I want to save the Earth.”