Invasive Species Council of British Columbia

2023 Together in Action Award Winners

By Lisa Houle | June 14, 2023

Every year, ISCBC presents the Together in Action awards during Invasive Species Action Month in May, acknowledging people in two categories, for the outstanding work they do in invasive species management and prevention.

“It is so encouraging to see the dedication of individuals making such a positive difference for our natural spaces and our communities. That’s what these awards are all about – recognizing leaders in invasive species prevention, management, and education,” said ISCBC Board Chair Nadia Chan. “This year’s winners are stand out leaders who go above and beyond in the prevention and management of invasive species. They are both incredible role models and so deserving of these awards. Congratulations!”  

ISCBC is pleased to announce the 2023 Together in Action winners in the ‘Student Leadership’ and ‘Innovation & Leadership’ categories:

The recipient of the Together in Action Student Leadership Award – acknowledging the work of an individual student who demonstrates leadership and innovation in invasive species prevention, work and management in BC – is April Kornitsky. April has been a passionate part of ISCBC’s youth volunteer program ever since she joined in 2021. She is well known in the volunteer community for her enthusiasm and genuine dedication to making a difference in invasive species management through education, knowledge sharing and more. From her presentation on utilizing invasive plants at the Invasives 2023 Forum in New Westminster, to a guided woods walk, April leads with a natural curiosity that is infectious!

Here is an excerpt from the letter written by the person who nominated her:

“April has grown into someone who is excited about invasive species management and finding ways to use invasives in encouraging more sustainable lifestyles. She has gone from being curious to learn about what invasive species are to speaking at the annual forum and telling everybody in her class what invasive species are and why her classmates should care.”

April is an instructor at a forest school where she teaches kids about nature and empowers them though connection with the natural world. She likes to forage and bird watch and enjoys creating art through painting, sculpting, and learning how to utilize invasive plants in her art.

April got involved in invasive species work when she met a few friends who were volunteers and saw the brilliant community they were part of. She wanted in.

“Growing up in Port Coquitlam, I was surrounded by the woods and land with my dad. I got to see the impacts of invasive species and watch how one new plant could decimate a part of the forest. I started learning the names of the plants and what I could do to help, and my passion for invasives bloomed,” said April. 

April feels like this award honours all the work volunteers do to make a big impact.

“I was nominated without my knowledge, and it fills me with joy that some of the people I hold dearest – and ISCBC – think I deserve recognition for my passion to create change,” she said.

The 2023 recipient of the Together in Action Innovation and Leadership Award – recognizing and celebrating the efforts of those who demonstrate leadership and commitment to the field of invasive species – is Mary Rose Argonza-Oberhoffner. Mary Rose was nominated for going above and beyond in her role with the Japanese Beetle (JB) program.

Here’s an excerpt from the folks who nominated her:

“Mary Rose helped streamline all aspects of communications for the 10 plus JB program partners. She goes above and beyond to ensure all are on the same page and sharing the same accurate information and common messaging. She always spends the time to revise and provide thorough feedback to the countless JB partner resources, letters, notifications, etc.”

“Mary Rose is always the first to volunteer to speak at partner and stakeholder events, create PowerPoint presentations even when it is not her job, as well as support where needed. Her work has most definitely impacted how residents, landscapers, retailers, impacted First Nations, developers, strata organizations, and industry better understand this program and subsequently show compliance in the lower mainland.”

Mary Rose is grateful to receive this award, calling it a special honour that represents the collaborative work being done to raise awareness about Japanese beetle in BC.

“Japanese beetle poses a serious threat to BC’s landscape and Canada’s plant resources. We all play a part in helping to prevent the spread and introduction of pests; the actions we take individually and collectively, to report pests (like Japanese beetle or other species) and follow plant health guidelines and restrictions, help protect the environment, along with the horticultural and agricultural sectors,” she said. “Thank you to those who took the time to nominate me and to ISCBC for this recognition. Thank you to my dedicated colleagues across the response who demonstrate receptiveness to and support of my thoughts and ideas every day that we work together.”

ISCBC extends a huge thank you to all 2023 Together in Action award nominees and recipients. Your contributions towards invasive species management and prevention in BC are noted and gratefully appreciated.

Lisa is a Communications and Outreach Coordinator at ISCBC. She values a diverse environment and connecting with others about environmental protection. In her spare time Lisa enjoys spending time at the ocean and beach combing for sea glass. You can reach Lisa at