New Jersey Invasive Species Strike Team (NJISST)


PO Box 5752
Hillsborough, NJ 08844
County: Somerset


Ms. Melissa Almendinger

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Grant Details

To protect the natural heritage and economy of New Jersey, our Strike Team works to find and destroy new populations of invasive species before they can cause significant damage. Our methodology, Early Detection/Rapid Response, is utilized worldwide and requires a centralized entity to coordinate the activities of myriad public and private stakeholders as they search for new invasive species and act quickly to eradicate them. Our Strike Team provides this service in New Jersey.

Organization Background

The New Jersey Invasive Species Strike Team started as a localized project in 2008 to track and control the spread of emerging invasive species in central New Jersey in order to prevent degradation of natural areas. Strong interest prompted the Strike Team to become a statewide non-profit organization in 2011.

The mission of our Strike Team is to prevent the spread of emerging invasive species -- plants, animals and pathogens -- across New Jersey. We do this by harnessing the stewardship potential of public and private land stewards to search for emerging invasive species, map locations where populations are detected and eradicate the invasive species that we find. We administer a data clearinghouse, prepare an annual catalog of invasive species present in and around our state, prioritize problem species, provide training for land stewards and property owners, coordinate detection and eradication programs and share our experience with the public. The Strike Team is the only entity specifically working to protect our state's natural heritage from the threats posed by invasive species.

Susan Brookman is our Executive Director. She holds a B.A. in Education from the University of Montana and an M.B.A. from Georgia College. Susan served as a founding member of our Board of Directors before becoming Executive Director in 2013. An experienced non-profit administrator, Susan spent eight years as the Executive Director of the Calusa Nature Center and Planetarium, an environmental education center in Florida, and worked in a variety of positions with Girl Scout Councils in Missouri and Georgia earlier in her career.

Education Director Melissa Almendinger holds a B.S. in Natural Resource Management from Rutgers University and has experience in education, land stewardship and project management. Melissa was co-chair of the Strike Team when it was created in 2008 as a regional project of the Upper Raritan Watershed Association and the Friends of Hopewell Valley Open Space. When the Strike Team expanded and become an independent state-wide organization, Melissa became our Executive Director. After providing outstanding leadership for over two years, Melissa scaled back her role in 2013 to focus on education and outreach.

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