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May Weed of the Month: A Decade in Bloom

Celebrating 10 Years of Weed of the Month

During a cold winter day in 2014, a Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) Noxious and Invasive Weed Program staff member glanced out a window at the falling snow, wishing for warmer days when the white scenery would be replaced with greens, yellows, reds, and purples of trees, shrubs, and wildflowers. That is when an idea came to them about a monthly column focusing on noxious weeds in Minnesota. The idea quickly bloomed into the MDA's Weed of the Month article and has become a staple, supporting outreach efforts ever since.

Weed of the Month has covered numerous topics to engage citizens in the importance of noxious weed awareness and management.

The goal of the short, informative articles for the public was to increase awareness about noxious weeds and the Noxious Weed Law. The first article covered "Finding and Reporting Noxious Weeds." Subsequent articles covered plant identification for each species on the noxious weed list. Nobody anticipated that the series would keep running for over 10 years!

Over the years, the MDA has written articles on noxious weed identification, weed management, weed management success stories, weed biocontrol, toxic plants, updates to the noxious weed list, new county finds of eradicate species, and educational resources for invasive plants. Authors have included multiple MDA staff, as well as guest authors from the University of Minnesota and other agencies.

Weed of the Month has around 17,000 subscribers that includes media outlets, county agricultural inspectors, and direct subscribers. Direct subscribers make up the bulk of the subscribers at around 16,500. It is republished by many media outlets and organizations, including Master Gardeners newsletters, which increases the reach of the publications. The articles have also led to multiple radio interviews across Minnesota, as well as interviews with TV stations in the metro and Rochester.

Weed of the Month consistently ranks as one of the top performing posts on the MDA's Facebook page. In the future, the MDA will continue to leverage new forms of media and social media to keep engagement of this publication up. For example, the MDA will be cross-promoting Weed of the Month in our new podcast to be released in August, called "Smarty Plants."

Weed of the Month articles have had meaningful impact on agriculture and invasive plants. The MDA has seen the impact of Weed of the Month grow from a simple educational tool to a platform that encourages citizen action, reporting invasive plants, improving weed management best practices, and enhancing the MDA's management strategies.

You can subscribe to the Weed of the Month series and view past articles. Visit the MDA Noxious Weed Program webpage for more information on noxious weeds in Minnesota.

 

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