Staff Spotlight: Samuel Leininger, WeedWise Manager


Get to know the WeedWise program, through our people!

The success of the WeedWise program is in great part due to the hard work and dedication of our staff.  If you have ever called the office or stopped by for assistance with your weed problems, you have undoubtedly worked with one of our hard-working employees.  If you’ve ever wondered what our program is all about, we first recommend checking our ABOUT, our HISTORY, and our STAFF pages to fill in many of the gaps.  But we know you want more!  So we are continuing our Staff Spotlight feature to give you the opportunity to get to know our staff better.  So take advantage of this opportunity to learn more about the people behind our program.

20 questions you’ve always wanted to ask WeedWise Manager, Samuel Leininger

Q1.  What is your favorite thing about working at the WeedWise program?

A1.  I really enjoy being a part of the great work we are doing and watching the WeedWise program grow and develop.  I can still recall the early days of the program, and it is extremely gratifying to see how the program has grown from little more than an idea to the program we see today.

Q2.  If you had to choose a different career what would it be?

A2.  If I had to change careers I’d choose something completely different.   Maybe a second career as a poet?

Q3.  What is your favorite place in Clackamas County?

A3.  One of my favorite places is the Camassia Natural Area in West Linn.  The park is convenient and local and the spring wildflower displays are a real treat.

Q4.  If you could visit any place in the world, where would it be?

A4.  Antarctica.

Q5.  What invasive weed do you think has the greatest impact on Clackamas County?

A5.  This is a really tough question because different weeds impact different areas and land types in Clackamas County.  Choosing one weed speaks volumes about what resources you value the most.  That said if I had to choose one weed that really scares me it would be shining geranium (Geranium lucidum). I have personally seen a massive expansion of this weed in a very short period of time.  It flies almost completely under the radar for even experienced weed professionals.  Its ability to spread easily and thrive in dense shade will likely signal disaster for our forest understory plants.  It troubles me greatly to know that I will likely witness the entire process for our area from start to finish in my lifetime.

Q6.  What book has influenced you most?

A6.  A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold greatly influenced me and my early career.  The idea of a land ethic, that Leopold advocated is an absolute necessity for conservation.  As a young ecologist, seeing how Leopold drew upon his observations as a naturalist and applied them to his ecological understanding served as a model that I have tried to emulate in understanding the natural processes around us.

Q7.  What has been your greatest challenge working for the WeedWise program?

A7.  My greatest challenge working in the WeedWise program has been patience.  When I walked in the door to the Clackamas SWCD in 2009, I had a long list of things I knew I wanted to see happen to best serve the residents of Clackamas County.  While we have made massive strides, there are still goals that I am working to accomplish from those early days.

Q8.  Pancakes, waffles, or French toast?

A8.  Waffles with huckleberry jam and a drizzle of honey

Q9.  What is your favorite time of year and why?

A9.  Autumn.  Growing up in Eastern Oregon and dealing with the hot summers I always welcomed the cool weather.

Q10.  Who is your hero?

A10.  One of my personal heroes was a retired forester named K. D. Flock.  He is remembered as one of the people responsible for making Smokey Bear the icon of wildfire prevention.  I spent a Christmas Day with Mr. Flock, just a few days before he passed away.  Despite being frail, he was one of the most articulate minds I have ever met.  He shared with me many of his experiences and life lessons at a time in my own life when I needed to hear them.  I’ve never forgotten those lessons and I’ll never forget Mr. Flock.

Q11.  What is your favorite native plant and why?

A11.  I have to choose the Willamette daisy (Erigeron decumbens). When I first started working in plant ecology at Oregon State University I spent two years working on Willamette Valley prairies, and developed and completed a project to propagate and restore populations of this federally endangered plant into prairie restoration sites.

Q12.  If you could have any special power, what would it be?

A12.  The ability to control time.  There are just too many things to do, and not enough hours in the day to accomplish them all.

Sam and Fam

The Leininger Family

Q13.  Why should folks care about invasive weeds?

A13.  Invasive weeds impact nearly every part of our lives whether we realize it or not.  Invasive weeds increase the cost of our food and natural resources, they alter our natural landscapes and alter how we move and interact with the world around us.  The real problem is that their impact has become so pervasive in these modern times, that we often fail to recognize these impacts.

Q14.  What activities or hobbies do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

Q14.  My favorite activity is spending time with my two young boys.  As a result, I spend too much time watching cartoons and playing with legos, but any time spent with my family is time well spent.

Q15.  What WeedWise activity or project are you most excited about in the coming year?

A15.  I am most excited about the work we are doing to address invasives in the fire perimeters of the Riverside and Beachie Creek fires.  This work is being coordinated with our partners from the Mt Hood National Forest and the Northwest Oregon District of Bureau of Land Management.  There have been a lot of impacts to our county, and we are happy to be a part of the recovery effort.  I am very hopeful for the future of these efforts and I know we make significant progress to manage invasive weeds in very sensitive portions of Clackamas County.

Q16.  If you were a piece of furniture, what would you be?

A16.  I’m a “lazy boy” recliner that is trying really hard to become a treadmill.

Q17.  What invasive weed do you think is the most difficult to manage?

A17.  The invasive knotweeds (Fallopia sp.) are probably the most difficult to manage.  They are extremely resilient even to well-planned treatments.  They also have a relatively narrow season for optimal treatment.  The knotweeds also typically invade along streams and rivers which limit our control practices and can further complicate management efforts.

Sam with the Bristlecone pines

Q18.  Name one of the coolest places you’ve visited.

A18.  One of the coolest places I have had the good fortune to visit is the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Groves in California.  Seeing some of the oldest living organisms on the planet is truly an amazing experience.

Q19.  Name one thing that most people don’t know about you.

A19.  I am related to former Oregon Governor, Elmo Smith.

Q20.  What do you think is the most often overlooked aspect of responsible weed management?

A20.  Easily the most overlooked aspect of weed management is the potential for negative repercussions of weed control activities.  It is important to consider the impacts that your efforts can have on co-occurring native plants, wildlife, water quality, and soil health to ensure that we aren’t doing more harm than good.   Choosing the right time of year and the proper methods can mean the difference between managing land for invasive weeds and creating a massive disturbance on the landscape.

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WeedWise Program