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Archer Samuel Hadley

TEEA 2014 Winner: Youth

For his Eagle Scout project, 16-year-old Archer Hadley wanted to create a long-term impact on his community by preserving a native drought-tolerant species of tree called the Texas ash. Tens of millions of native ash trees have been lost across the country due to the accidental introduction of a pest called the emerald ash borer. In response, the National Ash Genetic Conservation Project was set up to encourage activities to preserve ash trees. Archer contributed to this national effort by organizing the seed banking of the Texas ash so that the species could continue to be planted in the future in many areas of Texas and restoration efforts would be possible in the event of massive tree loss.

After learning to distinguish Texas ash from other ash species that grow in the Austin area, Archer prospected for naturally occurring Texas ash trees and contacted landowners to secure permission for the collection of mature seeds later in the year. Archer recruited more than 70 volunteers from Boy Scout Troop 5, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, the University of Texas Brackenridge Field Lab, and the Texas Master Naturalists to prospect for Texas ash trees and collect seeds.

After being instructed on how to identify the Texas ash and seed-collection protocol, volunteer teams were dispersed to the prospected locations and returned with sacks of seeds throughout the day. On multiple occasions, Archer and his volunteers returned to the Wildflower Center to evaluate the contents of the sacks and submit the processed seeds to plant conservationists for long-term storage. Most of the seeds will be sent to the National Seed Lab maintained by the USDA Forest Service and some will be shared with local landowners who requested seeds for various restoration projects. The seeds that are sent to the National Seed Lab will be used for research projects in the near future and for reintroduction projects if Texas ash is extirpated in central Texas by the emerald ash borer.

Ultimately, Archer’s efforts demonstrated leadership and provided a conservation service for the community. Archer’s applied conservation initiative serves as a model for education and collection technique that the Wildflower Center plans to use and refine for additional collaborations with other groups.