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Oklahoma Invasive Plant Council

Elections - January 2024

Open Positions:

5 At-large Board Members (2 year term)

President Elect (2 year term, with expectation to continue as President for additional 2 year term)

Secretary (2 year term)

Treasurer (2 year term)

 

The following new Board Members and Officers were elected January 2024:

At-large Board Members:

 

Elaine Gainer

Paul Koenig

Jay Pruett

Jamie Smith

Blane Stacy

 

Secretary:

Rebecca Theodorakos

 

Treasurer:

Karen Hickman

 

President-elect:

Jodie Crose

Short Bios of each candidate can be read below.

No write in candidates were recorded during the election.

Biographies of newly elected members

 

Jodie Crose 

I was raised on a small cattle and pecan operation in northeast Oklahoma. I grew up in agriculture and found my passion for invasive species control while attending college at Oklahoma State. I studied botany and plant and soil science and took courses that introduced me to the impacts of these plants and taught me how to control them. I just couldn’t get enough of Oklahoma State, so I stuck around for a Master’s degree in agronomic weed science. From there, I traveled to northeast Wyoming where I recently completed my PhD with the University of Wyoming. My dissertation focused on invasive annual grass control and native species restoration. In May, I accepted a position as a field scientist working in range and pasture with Corteva Agriscience. I look forward to becoming more involved with OkIPC and working with land managers throughout the state to reduce invasive plant impact.   

 

Elaine Gainer 

I am the Aquatic Nuisance Species/Fish Kill Coordinator for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. I worked as the very first ANS Technician, starting my time with ODWC in December 2021, and just recently promoted to the coordinator position September 1 of this year. I work with anything that is invasive in and around water as well as investigating reported fish kills on public waters. Even though the organisms I work with are not wanted in our state, I still find them fascinating in their own ways. I’m looking forward to being a part of this group! 

 

Karen Hickman 

I am currently a professor of Natural Resource Ecology and Management at Oklahoma State University and director of the Environmental Science program. I teach courses in Environmental Science and in Ecology of Invasive Species, as well as advise and mentor undergraduate and graduate students.  My research program has focused on the ecological interactions of invasive plant species with native communities and the effects of management on plant population and community dynamics in the Great Plains.  I currently serve as the 1st Vice President or the Society for Range Management, board member of the Enid, OK Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and previously served as president of the Oklahoma Invasive Plant Council, the Oklahoma Section of the Society for Range Management, and the Range Science Education Council.  As a founding member of the OkIPC, I am confident that we can continue to influence how Oklahoma deals with invasive plant species. I am eager to continue to serve OkIPC again as Treasurer. 

 

Paul Koenig  

Paul received a B.S. in Zoology at Michigan State University and M.S. at Oklahoma State University. Paul headed up the Lakes Diagnostic and Restoration Section of the Oklahoma Water Resources Board for over 20 years. Since retirement from the OWRB Paul offers consulting as Clean H2O LLC.  

Clean H2O Projects include:  

· Nutrient inactivation to eliminate toxic algae blooms  

· Documentation, development and implementation of the Floating Yellow Heart Management plan for OSU on Lake Carl Blackwell  

· Investigation of fish kills  

· Designed and implemented the use of native aquatic plants for pond health and beautification · Provide ecological consulting services for legal firms 

 

Jay Pruett 

My career of 45+ years in environmental management has included work for a pollution control agency and as director of environmental affairs for an electric utility corporation in four states, along with work on conservation projects in Latin America. 

For the past 14 years, I have been the director of conservation for the Oklahoma Chapter of The Nature Conservancy, overseeing the operation of our 12 nature preserves, new acquisitions, conservation program development and implementation, and partnerships with other conservation entities, organizations, and agencies.  It was in this role that I arranged for and oversaw an ‘audit’ of invasive species management in Oklahoma in 2009. The results of that audit led me to create the Oklahoma Invasive Plant Council (OkIPC), to fill a need for coordination and facilitation among a number of stakeholder entities involved in one way or another with invasive plant species in the state.  I designed the organization and guided development of the strategies and implementation plans for accomplishing the organization’s goals.  I have been on the board since its inception and served as president for several years. 

My years of overseeing operation of The Conservancy’s preserves, including their invasive species management programs, as well as working with a multitude of agencies and organizations, along with my creation and leading of the Oklahoma Prescribed Fire Council, have all given me experience that is directly relevant to the work of OkIPC.  I would love to continue to work with the OkIPC board to build on the board’s past successes and make further strides in managing the negative impacts of invasive plant species on our native habitats and wildlife in Oklahoma. 

 

Jamie Smith 

 I am an Environmental Coordinator in Environmental Protection Service for the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. I graduated from SOSU with a Bachelor of Science in Biology with an emphasis in Botany, and I am currently working on a Master of Public Administration in Urban Development through UCO. I am creating a field guide of plants native to the Choctaw Nation Reservation that have ecological and cultural importance which will speak to traditional ecological knowledge and environmental stewardship. Additionally, I am building a database of river cane (Arundinaria gigantea) currently growing within CNO Reservation in hopes of calculating overall cane brake densities. With this project I want to bring awareness to the ecosystem that can evolve within a cane brake, while providing a space for Choctaw artists to harvest ethically grown river cane. I am a member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma and have lived within the CNO Reservation for most of my life. I have a two-year-old son who is my primary motivation to become a better human. 

 
Blane Stacy 

I am Blane Stacy, rangeland specialist with the Oklahoma conservation commission. I specialize in rangeland ecology and soil health management for conservation and production of natural resources. In My day to day work with producers, invasive plants are a significant concern. I enjoy working with producers coming up with resource plans and assistance to control and eradicate invasive plant species. 

 

Rebecca Theodorakos 

My role with the BLM involves searching for innovative ideas to combat invasive plants and animals throughout our lands in the eastern US. We use all sorts of control methods, including herbicide treatments, controlled burns, invasive animal trapping, and goat grazing. This work encompasses many diverse habitats including buckthorn thickets in Wisconsin and invasive iguana populations in coastal Florida. I live on a ranch outside of Washington, OK and although my day job doesn’t work with Oklahoma invasives, I spend the rest of my time battling them as a rancher! 

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