MIPN Mission Statement

Our mission is to reduce the impact of invasive plant species in the Midwest.


Geographic Focus

MIPN primarily works with partners in the upper Midwestern states of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, and Wisconsin, and the Province of Ontario, Canada.


History & Background

The formation of the Midwest Invasive Plant Network was initiated by about ninety people attending an Invasive Species Symposium hosted by the Chicago Botanic Garden in October of 2002. A second meeting was held at the Natural Areas Conference in Madison, Wisconsin in September of 2003 to further develop the MIPN concept and create organizational focus areas. These focal areas were further solidified in a strategic vision developed in 2009 and include the following:

  • Development of invasive  species spread prevention measures, particularly those that engage the green (nursery and landscape) industry
  • Promoting early detection and rapid response programs and methods
  • Promoting consistent regional methods for inventorying, monitoring and tracking invasive plants and encouraging cross-boundary data sharing
  • Serve as a bridge between the research and land-management communities by compiling and sharing research findings with land-managers and communicating research needs observed by partners in the field to research institutions.
  • Development of regional outreach and education, including publications and conferences.
  • Cultivation of sustainable financial support for MIPN and its mission


As a regional network, MIPN draws on the knowledge, experience, and enthusiasm of a diverse group of participants and partners. MIPN’s full-time Coordinator position is funded through both federal and private funding sources, including membership contributions. The Morton Arboretum hosts MIPN’s Coordinator, providing office space, basic supplies, and administrative and accounting services. The Nature Conservancy of Indiana, Purdue University, the U.S. Forest Service, and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources each played a major role in MIPN’s development over the years.




MIPN Member Organizations

We would like to acknowledge and thank our 2016/2017 member organizations and businesses who support us in our mission of reducing the impacts of invasive plants across the Midwest. We also enjoy the support of numerous individual members. If you are interested in membership, either as an individual or for your organization or business, please click here to learn more.


Non-Profit and Government Members

Business Members

Champaign County Forest Preserve District, Mahomet, IL

4 Control, Inc., Menomonie, WI

City of St. Louis Park, MN

Green Shoots, LLC, St. Paul, MN

Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, Batavia, IL

Liberty Prairie Restoration, LLC, Libertyville, IL

Kansas Forest Service, Manhattan, KS

Mark M. Holeman, Inc., Indianapolis, IN

Lumberjack Resource Development Council, Inc., Rhinelander, WI

Midwest Groundcovers, LLC, St. Charles, IL

The Morton Arboretum, Lisle, IL

Tallgrass Restoration, LLC, Schaumburg, IL

Oakland Township Parks and Recreation, Rochester, MI


Ontario Invasive Plant Council, Peterborough, ON, Canada


Ramsey-Washington Metro Watershed District, Little Canada, MN


Riley-Purgatory-Bluff Creek Watershed, Eden Prairie, MN


Southern Indiana Cooperative Invasives Management, Bedford, IN


St. Croix River Association, St. Croix Falls, WI


Wild Rivers Invasive Species Coalition, Kingsford, MI





MIPN Staff and Board Leadership


Clair Ryan, MIPN Coordinator, Lisle, IL, (630) 719-5649, mipn@mortonarb.org

Clair is the Midwest Invasive Plant Network’s full-time Coordinator and works out of an office generously provided by The Morton Arboretum, located about 25 miles southwest of Chicago. She began in this role in December of 2016. Prior to joining MIPN, Clair worked on interstate water quality programs in the Eastern U.S., including the Chesapeake Bay Program, the Lake Champlain Basin Program, and the Long Island Sound Study. This experience allowed her to specialize in the engagement of diverse stakeholders on a regional scale to develop solutions to challenging environmental problems, and she is looking forward to putting these skills to further use with MIPN. Clair holds M.S.E.S. and M.P.A. degrees from Indiana University – Bloomington and a B.S. from Cornell University, all focused on environmental management.


Mark Renz, MIPN Board President, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI, (608) 263-7437, mrenz@wisc.edu

Mark Renz (Ph.D.) is an Associate Professor and Extension Weed Specialist with the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Mark researches and extends information about the biology and management of invasive plants. Research goals in his lab are centered on developing information that will improve management by improving the knowledge and understanding of invasive plant biology. Mark has over 15 years of experience with management of invasive plants throughout the United States in a wide range of habitats including riparian zones, roadsides, floodplains, prairies, wetlands, and forests. Education efforts focus on providing technical information and educational opportunities for agency staff, consultants, companies, and citizens concerned about invasive plants. Mark has served on MIPN’s Board of Directors for 10 years and is currently the board president.

Laura Van Riper, MIPN Board Vice President, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, St. Paul, MN, Contact: (651) 259-5090, Laura.Vanriper@state.mn.us

Laura is the Terrestrial Invasive Species Coordinator for the Ecological and Water Resources Division of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. Previously, Laura earned a Ph.D. in ecology from the University of Minnesota. Her position at the DNR focuses on terrestrial invasive species prevention, management, policy, and outreach. Laura joined MIPN’s Board of Directors in 2011 and currently serves as its board vice-president.


Kurt Dreisilker, MIPN Board Treasurer, The Morton Arboretum, Lisle, IL, (630) 725-2093, kdreisilker@mortonarb.org

Kurt is the Head of Natural Resources for The Morton Arboretum located in Lisle, Illinois. Since 2004 he has been planning and implementing ecological restoration throughout the Arboretum's 900 acres of natural areas. The Arboretum’s status as a public garden and world-class tree museum gives Kurt a unique perspective on the management of invasive plant species. He has a B.S. and M.S. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where he studied plant biology and natural resources management. Kurt was a founding steering committee member of Northeast Illinois Invasive Plant Partnership and has served on MIPN’s Board of Directors since 2012. He currently serves as MIPN’s treasurer and helped to foster the new arrangement with the Arboretum as MIPN’s host and fiscal sponsor.


MIPN Board Members


Kim Bogenschutz has been the Aquatic Invasive Species Program Coordinator for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources since 2000. She has a BA in Biology from Gustavus Adolphus College and an MS in Fisheries Science from South Dakota State University. She has worked on aquatic habitats in Minnesota, Indiana, and Iowa for over 25 years. Kim is vice-chair of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies Invasive Species Committee, served as chair of the Mississippi River Basin Panel on Aquatic Nuisance Species (ANS), and is a member of the ANS Task Force and American Fisheries Society Introduced Fish Section. She has also served on MIPN’s board since February of 2016.


Theresa Culley (Ph.D.) is a Professor of Biological Sciences at Cincinnati University. In addition, she serves as the University’s Provost Fellow for its honors program and the interim director for its Nationally Competitive Awards program. Theresa’s research focuses on the evolution of plant breeding systems and the interplay between species’ reproductive biology and population genetics. One of her current projects explores the hybridization and spread of the invasive ornamental tree Callery pear (Pyrus calleryana). Theresa has been a member of MIPN’s board since January of 2016.


Michael Daab serves as the Director of Natural Resources for the Champaign County (IL) Forest Preserve District. As part of its mission, his team deals with the management and prevention of spread of invasive plants within Champaign County’s forest preserve system. He has been a member of MIPN’s board since October of 2013.


David Gorden is a Partner with Mark M. Holeman, Inc., an Indianapolis design-build firm he joined over 25 years ago.  He is a Trustee of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), and a past president of both the Indiana Chapter of ASLA and the Horticultural Society of the Indianapolis Museum of Art. David has been involved in invasive plant issues and their role in the designed landscape since 2001. Hi is a graduate of the landscape architecture program of the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana. He has been a member of MIPN’s board since 2014.


Bob Hartzler (Ph.D.) is an Extension Weed Specialist and Professor of Agronomy at Iowa State University. As such, his work combines extension education to farmers, research, and higher education teaching. Much of his work focuses on an integrated weed management approach for corn and soybean crops and the influence on weed biology on the effectiveness of various control techniques. He holds a Ph.D. in crop physiology from Iowa State, an M.S. in weed physiology from Virginia Tech, and a B.S. in Plant Protection from Purdue University. Bob has been on MIPN’s board since 2010.


Chris Henze is the Roadside Vegetation Manager and County Weed Commissioner for the Johnson County Secondary Road Department in Eastern Iowa. Chris has been managing noxious weeds and invasive species in roadsides for nearly 20 years while being in charge of the Integrated Roadside Vegetation Management Program (IRVM). While on the job you may find Chris conducting prescribed burns, planting native grasses and wildflowers in roadsides, installing erosion controls, in a tractor or running a chainsaw. Chris is also chairperson of the Hawkeye Cooperative Weed Management Area and is active in grant activities as well as invasive species management and educational efforts. Chris has served on MIPN’s board since 2010.


Chris May is the Director of Restoration for The Nature Conservancy in Michigan. He directs statewide natural resource management and restoration efforts, including invasive species management. Chris has been involved in research and management of natural resources for over 28 years. He received his B.S. in Biology from Baylor University in Waco, Texas and his M.S. in Wildlife Management from Humboldt State University in Arcata, California. His past work experience includes restoration of aquatic, wetland, and upland habitats; invasive species management; prescribed fire and wildland firefighting; and use of GIS for natural resource management. He has been a member of MIPN’s board since 2013.


Tim Power recently retired from his position as the Legislative Affairs Manager for the Minnesota Nursery and Landscape Association (MNLA). He had previously served as a Government Affairs Director and a regulatory consultant to the Association. Prior to working for the MNLA, Tim served as the Association’s board president while also co-owning Law’s Nursery, based in Hastings, MN, for over 30 years. Tim has served on MIPN’s board since 2012.


Ron Rathfon serves as Purdue University’s Extension Forester in southwest Indiana, and he works office out of the Southern Indiana Purdue Agricultural Center (SIPAC) in Dubois County. His time is split between conducting applied forestry research and forestry outreach (extension) activities directed to private landowners, professional foresters and other natural resource professionals, youth groups, educators, and the public.  In addition, he manages over 600 acres of departmental forest at SIPAC where much of his research is conducted. He has a M.S. in from Virginia Tech, a B.S. from University of Idaho, and an A.S. from Penn State, all in forestry management. He has been a member of MIPN’s board since 2014.


Darcy Rutkowski is the Executive Director of the Upper Peninsula (UP) Resource Conservation and Development Council and is also the UP Phragmites Coalition project manager. Her role is to coordinate the efforts of key coalition partners representing conservation districts, state and federal agencies, and private landowners that are collaborating to implement a coordinated strategy of education, mapping, and sustainable management of non-native phragmites in the UP. Darcy has managed multiple grant-funded programs for the Council over the past 10 years, including the RRIP-IT-UP (Rapid Response Invasive Plant Intervention Team for the UP) Project, and an UP-wide garlic mustard project. She represents the UP RC&D Council as a partner of all 5 Cooperative Invasive Species Management Areas in the UP, and is a member of the Michigan Invasive Species Coalition core team. She has been a member of MIPN’s board since 2014.


Kellie Sherman is the Coordinator of the Ontario Invasive Plant Council and has been with the organization for three years. Kellie spends most of her time coordinating and working on current projects (centered on invasive plant awareness, training, and early detection/rapid response), managing council’s website, applying for funding, coordinating the committees and managing finances. She graduated from the Ecosystem Management program at Fleming College in 2010, and then went on to receive her Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Resource Science from Trent University. Her past experience includes work with the Community Stream Steward Program (Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters), the Natural Heritage Information Centre (Ministry of Natural Resources) and Kawartha Conservation, working as a Stewardship Technician. She joined MIPN’s board in 2015.


Jason Stevens is a Regional Rangeland Management Specialist, Rangeland Ecologist, and Invasive Species Program Coordinator for Region 9 of the U.S. Forest Service, and is based out of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Forest Service Region 9 spans the Eastern U.S. from Minnesota to Maine. Its mission is to manage 16 National Forests and associated grasslands for multiple beneficial uses and to advise state, local and private land managers on the integrated natural area management. Jason is particularly interested in the impacts of invasive plants on the health of our region’s forests and grasslands. He has served as the MIPN board’s Forest Service liaison since April of 2016. In this role, he participates in board discussions but is not a voting member.


Ryan Wheeler is the Terrestrial Invasive Species Biologist for Michigan’s Department of Natural Resources, Forest Resources and Wildlife Divisions. Ryan works on many aspects of comprehensive invasive species management, with an emphasis on building and strengthening collaborative partnerships. Some of Ryan’s key responsibilities include serving as a technical contact for projects funded by Michigan’s invasive species grant program and acting as the chair of a multi-agency committee working on decontamination policy and recommendations for preventing the spread of invasive species in Michigan. Ryan is the most recent addition to MIPN’s board, joining in July of 2016.