SODCAP webinar will help

With the summer brings some challenges for rural landowners whether for farming or livestock in the way of weeds. 

While many have experience on what to do and look for, it never hurts to brush up on any new information. With that in mind, on July 7 at 3 p.m. the Native Prairie Speaker Series (webinar) will feature Melanie Toppi, Invasive Weed Biologist for the South of the Divide Conservation Action Program (SODCAP)  Inc. to discuss “Identifying the Big Weeds.”

Toppi, who is also representing the Frenchman-Wood Rover Management Area (FWRWMA) says it is a good time to get any questions answered.

“Invasive weeds does become a normal topic in the growing season.  We (South of the Divide Conservation Action Program Inc. [SODCAP] and the Frenchman – Wood River Weed Management Area [FWRWMA]), normally host a Weed ID workshop or two in conjunction with other organizations,” explains Toppi. “Invasive weeds, depending on their species, have hotspots around southern Saskatchewan, as is the case anywhere. By providing the identification information, we hope that people will become more aware of weeds that are around, but also for the individual plants or small patches, that could be managed and eradicated right away. Early detection (and) early response is key.”

While she explains there are not critical issues which are coming to the forefront like any dominant invasive weed or any new unfamiliar varieties, there is always good information which can be garnered from such a seminar/webinar. 

“The main aspect of the webinar is weed identification. Unfortunately, there are a lot of different weeds we could learn about, but I had to narrow it down,” explains Toppi. “I will focus on some of the weeds that are a little less common in Saskatchewan, but still around.  It is very helpful to learn to identify the little known weeds and new weeds – they will be the ones that can be stopped and are the ones that will more easily (and will cost less) be controlled.”

This will be Toppi’s first webinar. She is excited to give it a try and because of the pandemic and social distancing regulations this was the option  which needed to be taken. 

She adds that FWRWMA works with invasive weeds and educates, surveys and monitors old and new infestations.  SODCAP works cooperatively with ranchers and industry where cattle and species at risk can co-exist.  

Toppi is from Ontario. She went to College and earned a diploma in Fish and Wildlife Technology and then moved on to university to earn a degree in biology. Living in Regina with her husband and son, she explains her first experience with Saskatchewan was over 15 years ago. She has been living in the province for 13 years.

“I(t) was in 2003, where I worked for Ducks Unlmitied Canada in the southwest part of the province; it was love at first sight, all the rolling hills and the amazing wildlife and people,” she explains. “I knew I would live in Saskatchewan again one day.”

Toppi has worked in conservation nationally for 20 years, across the country with the last three with SODCAP and FWRWMA.  

“I love the prairies, and the southwest and I believe in what both organizations stand for. For both organizations, we believe one of the key components of success is building trusting and lasting relationships with the landowners. I have a very rewarding job and the people I work with are amazing.”

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