GHS Student Fights Invasive Plant in Greenwich

Nini Webb

Caroline Webb, a GHS senior, instructs a group of volunteers about how to go about constructing the invasive plant barrier. Photo: Monique Nikolov

Greenwich High School senior Caroline Webb earned her Girls Scout Gold Award for her work in addressing the issue of invasive plants in the Greenwich community.

For her project, Caroline directed a group of volunteers to assist her in constructing a barrier around an area at the Audubon Center of Greenwich.

Using garden staples and polypropylene fabric, the volunteers surrounded the perimeter of a Phragmites (a highly invasive plant species) infestation with the barrier.

“Three million acres of land are lost to invasive plants each year,” noted Caroline Webb. This shocking statistic, among other environmental concerns caused by invasive plant species, were what inspired Caroline to pursue such a project for her Girl Scout Gold Award.

Andy Chapin, the Audubon Greenwich Land Steward and Caroline’s project adviser, originally inspired Caroline choose the topic of invasive plants.

“I was previously unaware of the extent of the issue … But invasive plants are a huge problem because they can completely take over ecosystems and create monocultures, meaning that little to no native plants can survive,” Caroline said.

This disruption in the ecosystem leads to detrimental effects for many insects that rely on these native plants for critical resource, which eventually leads to a ripple effect across the entire food chain.  “By building a barrier around the phragmites infestation, I hope to control and eventually eradicate the plant, helping to restore a healthier outdoor community,” affirmed Caroline.

Nini Webb

Caroline Webb works on constructing the invasive plant barrier at the Greenwich Audubon Center. Photo: Monique Nikolov

As part of her project, Caroline additionally sought to educate her community about the dangers of invasive plant species. To fulfill this goal, Caroline gave presentations at various community centers, including the Greenwich Garden Club, Weed Wrangle events, and GHS biology classes. She also created and has been distributing informational brochures about the issue, which will be linked below.

“The project opened my eyes to the impact that one can make on the community,” said Caroline.  “I learned an incredible amount not just about invasive plants, but also about communicating ideas and working with others.”

Through working with her project adviser, Andy Chapin, Kim Gregory from the Greenwich Garden Club, and many volunteers, Caroline was able to successfully achieve her goal of building an effective barrier around a phragmites infestation at the Audubon Center in Greenwich. Her work can be seen at the Audubon Greenwich Fairchild Wildflower Sanctuary, off North Porchuck Road.

Nini Webb

Volunteers help Caroline Webb construct an invasive plant barrier at the Greenwich Audubon Center. Photo: Monique Nikolov

Nini Webb

The finished invasive plant barrier can be viewed at the Audubon Greenwich Fairchild Wildflower Sanctuary, off North Porchuck Road. Photo: Monique Nikolov

Invasive Plant Species Brochure: http://www.greenwichgardenclub.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/Invasive-Species-Brochure-FINAL.pdf

Greenwich Audubon Website: http://greenwich.audubon.org/