Hello! Today, writing again is Ben Ubert with an experience I am eager to share. If we have not
been able to meet yet, I am an AmeriCorps member serving with Severson Dells through the
Summer of 2020.
If the shock of brisk air in the morning, gradual changing of leaves’ colors, and sudden
emergence of pumpkin spice everything has not yet alerted you to the changing of seasons, I am
pleased to say “Happy Autumn!”
All around our space at Severson Dells we are noticing the changes the fall is bringing. Insects
are burrowing away, the kinds of birds that visit our feeders are varying, and as of October 12th,
it is honeysuckle clearing season!
Severson’s resident Naturalist and Educator, Andrea, organizes opportunities for people to be
involved in citizen science operations that directly benefit the local community. There are a
variety of tasks to do, and they correlate with each season. As the temperature lowers, the
weather lends itself to the focused effort of removing Honeysuckle from our grounds. This plant
is non-native, and has invasive behavior; meaning that this plant is not historically from our area,
and the way it grows changes the ecosystem and hurts what has historically called our lands
The rate at which many honeysuckle plants grow is astounding, people often mistake singular
patches of densely grown honeysuckle as a forest. Visible effects of the plant’s presence can be
seen quickly entering our paved loop. One side of the loop has a forest floor, wherein animals,
birds, and insects have space to move, grow, and decompose. Jumping across the pavement, the
other side is dense, little space and visibility is available to be offered to anything in the area due
to the gnarled, competing growths of honeysuckle. Those that love the diverse ecology of our
area understand invasive plants, including honeysuckle, as an immense burden to the fragile
balance that sustains what we love about this place: unique birding opportunities, beautiful
prairie ecosystems, and invaluable wetlands that teem with life. Invasive species disregard these
features and overrun the places that hold these experiences. The reason there is even a side in our
forest with space is due to the consistent efforts of volunteers to remove honeysuckle from the forest.
On October 12th, I had my first opportunity at Severson to join a honeysuckle removal effort.
The brief, three-hour work-time was incredibly productive; and I dare call the work fun. Several
hundred square feet of space was opened, allowing space for future native plants that will
benefit the ecosystem to grow.
The work was physical and required focused attention per plant. The plants were pruned down
or sawed down depending on their size. Piles of the plant were gathered, and the stumps of those
unable to be uprooted had to be dosed with herbicide. This straightforward but time-consuming
work was able to be completed on such a great scale because we had such a great number of
volunteers from our wonderful Conservation Crew and a visiting Boy Scout troop that provided their
service to our community.
Alone, a singular volunteer may have been able to complete the same amount of work by sunset
the next day. The number of hands available and willing to do a small task brought forward an
incredible result in a mere three hours.
This experience made the impact of volunteers immediately visible in a very tangible way to me.
Severson Dells Nature Center has been able to provide programming that involves the community in
unique ways because people have invested their time and energy into the efforts to keep the lands
Through the accumulation of small donations of time and energy, noticeable and impactful
differences are made in a community. Each volunteer was an important part of this specific day,
and I know the staff at Severson are so grateful for the community support they receive.
I am eager to be meeting the full number of education, conservation, and administration
volunteers that invest in Severson with their presence and efforts. If you have any interest in
being part of how Severson Dells benefits the community (while having a fun and valuable
experience at the same time), please visit our website for the simple ways you can become involved
with Severson Dells Nature Center. Our Conservation Crew meets every month on the second
Saturday and fourth Monday from 9 AM to noon. We provide gloves and tools. Volunteers just need to
bring a water bottle.
I hope to see you at a volunteer opportunity soon!
By Ben Ubert
AmeriCorps Education Member