Invasive species are a growing problem, and European frogbit is no exception. When Kyra Steenbock first read about Amanda Smith’s work with the species, she was struck by several aspects of the situation. The non-native species could potentially choke out wild rice which is important to many Indigenous Peoples of Wisconsin. It also threatens the habitat of many native fauna, such as the American Black Duck, the American Bittern, and the Sedge Wren, shown in the wild rice in the acrylic painting.
However, both Smith and Steenbock wanted to emphasize that invasive species are not inherently bad. The species themselves have no bad intentions; they are simply introduced to new areas, often accidentally by humans, and are able to spread widely and outcompete native species. There is still beauty in European frogbit, as seen by the vibrant green leaves and small white flowers. Originally brought to North America for the water garden industry, European frogbit escaped cultivation in the late 1930s and has been spreading throughout the Great Lakes since then, facilitated by boaters, waterfowl hunters, wildlife, and vectors such as flooding and currents.
Steenbock hopes that Unintended Consequences portrays and contrasts the beauty and value of both the native and non-native species of Wisconsin while serving as a reminder to water users that they have a responsibility to protect the natural areas they love.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Kyra Steenbock is a second-year student at UW-Madison double majoring in Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies with the Biocore Honors Certificate. She spends most of her time busy with STEM classes and working in experiential learning (a fancy name for facilitating team building workshops and working at a summer camp), so she was thrilled by the opportunity to merge her artistic hobbies with her love of science. Her art spans from landscape paintings to portrait sketches to quirky clay earrings to fake tattoos with a ballpoint pen and can be found on Instagram @paint_stained_plant.
ABOUT THE Water Partner
Amanda Smith is a Regional Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Coordinator for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Based out of the Green Bay Regional Headquarters, Amanda’s work area covers 15 counties in Northeast Wisconsin where she is responsible for leading response efforts to NR 40 Prohibited and other locally signficant AIS. Additionally, her role supports AIS prevention by overseeing the development and implementation of invasion pathway strategies and related Surface Water Grant Program grant projects. She values creativity and forward thinking inspired by the Seventh Generation and is proud to be an alum of UW-Stout and the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies.