The headline translates easily from Spanish to English: Guide to Noxious and Invasive Weeds
The household names for those weeds, however, do not always translate so easily – and this can present a barrier for our small business community. Professional landscapers and their clients in the area now have a great tool to address that potential barrier, courtesy of the Department of Natural Resources and Parks (DNR).
Embracing two of the County’s ‘best-run government’ guiding principles, DNRP upped the ante on Civic Engagement and Service Excellence in April and co-hosted a workshop with Casa Latina. After cultivating relationships with residents and small business owners, and listening to and understanding their needs, DNRP aligned its services and resources with those needs and published Guía de malas hierbas nocivas e invasoras, the first comprehensive guide of its type in the Northwest. The translation was accomplished with the assistance of Gonzalo Yepes, owner of Columbian Gardens, and IRCO (Immigrant & Refugee Commission), a Portland, Oregon charity.
“In addition to simply having a job that allows me to provide great service, one of the most rewarding parts of this effort was having such a successful workshop,” Eric Walker, noxious weed specialist with DNRP, said.
Casa Latina hosts monthly landscaping classes. Through collaboration, DNRP and Casa Latina conducted outreach to get the word out that the workshop would be held during scheduled class times in April. Also, two small business owners participated in the workshop by teaching two of the three modules. Gonzalo Yepes, LIC, presented “Plantas nativas del Oeste de Washington” (Native Plants of Western Washington), and Victor Ceron Zane of VC Organic Garden Care presented, “Plantas Ornamentales del Oeste de Washington” (Ornamental Plants of Western Washington). DNRP and the community also collaborated with one of our sister counties. The third module, “Malezas nocivas e invasoras del Oeste de Washington” (Noxious and Invasive Weeds of Western Washington), was presented by Angelica Velazquez, Cowlitz County noxious weed program coordinator. In addition to discussions and PowerPoint presentations, the workshop included physical samples of specimens.
“Having actual samples of noxious weeds on hand added a lot of depth and reinforcement to the learning experience,” Eric said.
DNRP learned a lot during the effort, as well. According to Eric, some of the lessons learned include engaging with your audience where they are, dedicating enough time to engage most effectively, taking and acting on feedback from your customers, and including everyone in the creative implementation of solutions. Some of the plans moving forward include leveraging technology to scale efforts throughout the County.
“Combining census data with what we know about where weed infestations occur, we can do spatial analysis to not only target our own physical efforts, but to prioritize the implementation and focus of solutions like the Spanish guide in any of our diverse communities,” Eric said. In addition to holding more Spanish workshops in the future, Eric said that the data suggests DNRP’s next initiative may focus on the needs of our Vietnamese-speaking community.