Wild Parsnip is the devil – and the Midwest Conservation Dogs are here to save us from this nasty plant. (oh and a tortoise )


This is going to be known as the summer of wild parsnip.  Earlier in the summer I was at a shoot for Bast Durbin, and posted photos of our truck in the field on to Facebook.  I thought it looked cool, but Facebook thought I was nuts (that in itself is normal…).  Apparently we had parked in a bunch of wild parsnip, and I was walking right in it saying “ohhhh ahhhhh – this is so beautiful”.  I had no idea what I had stepped in to and how HORRIBLE this stuff was. Here is some info on it: Wild Parsnip at Mequon Nature Preserve.   I was extremely lucky to only get a few blisters – however my feet look like I have permanent chicken pox on them.Yikes! The oil on the plants stays forever if you don’t wash it off, so I ended up re- contaminating myself by accident when I put the sandals I had been wearing back on.  Doh!

Backing up just a bit, before the wild parsnip episode, I had been contacted by Midwest Conservation Dogs to do some photos of their work in action. The dogs are trained to find invasive AND endangered species of all kinds – both plants and animals. The group occasionally trains at the Mequon Nature Preserve (which, but the way is AWESOME – and you must go) – and the Preserve actually now has it’s own canine team member named Tilia!  When I arrived, I was itching and scratching and whining about wild parsnip.  Laura Holder (the woman who had contacted me about photographing the group) basically started laughing, and informed me that wild parsnip was the plant being trained on that day.  How convenient!  Universal karma was being returned to the devil plant!

The Mequon Nature Preserve also has a tortoise named Louise – which – in true “Hannah has ADD” fashion – I spent 15 minutes laying on the ground taking photos of before we even started photographing the canines in action.  Ahem:

I digress… So here is the devil plant that they are sniffing out:

And here are the awesome Conservation Dogs in action:

At the end we tried to get group portrait of Tilia the Dog, Louis the Tortoise, and Kristin Gies the Executive Director.   One of my all time favorite attempts ;).  

If you are interested in learning more about this VERY cool project – please check out their Facebook page.  I’ll also be teaching a workshop in October with Laura – you can see details about that here: Training Thoughtfully.



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1 Comment

1 Comment on Wild Parsnip is the devil – and the Midwest Conservation Dogs are here to save us from this nasty plant. (oh and a tortoise )

  1. Karen Armstrong
    September 14, 2017 at 1:15 am (5 years ago)

    So great you are blogging again. Love your sharing of the adventures you gat be on.
    YOU take care of you. Thank you for being you.
    Always with kindness, Karen in Washburn