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Minnesota seeks lookouts for invasive pests

Minnesota is looking for volunteers to join the hundreds of citizens who already have stepped up to help keep an eye out for new infestations of emerald ash borer and other destructive invasive pests. These volunteer “first detectors” form part of the state’s early warning system for invasive tree pests, making it more likely that infestations will be found in early stages when they are easier to control.

Registration is now open for Forest Pest First Detector workshops to be held in late February and early March. The six one-day workshops will be conducted by experts with the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA), University of Minnesota Extension and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The sessions will provide in-depth information on identification of invasive tree pests. After completing the training, participants are qualified to serve as volunteers in the state’s First Detector Program. The role of these first detectors is to serve as public contacts for information about these pests and to help investigate reports of potential infestations.

“One key to slowing the spread of invasive pests is to find new infestations quickly,” MDA Plant Protection Director Geir Friisoe said. “Many of the new infestations in Minnesota have been discovered by people like first detectors — informed citizens who know what to look for and who to call when they find something. The more help we have, the better our chances to contain infestations.”

Participants who complete the one-day sessions will become part of an award winning program. The Minnesota Forest Pest First Detector Program has been recognized by the National Plant Diagnostic Network (NPDN) for its outstanding training of volunteers. The NPDN is an internationally respected consortium of plant diagnostic laboratories from across the United States.

Forest Pest First Detector training sessions are scheduled as follows:

  • February 22 – Chaska   8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. – U of M Landscape Arboretum, Snyder Auditorium
  • February 28 – Altura – 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. – Whitewater State Park, Visitor Center/Park Office
  • March 1 – Grand Rapids – 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. – U of M Northwest Research and Outreach Center, Multipurpose Room
  • March 6 – St. Paul – 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. – TIES Building (Larpenteur and Snelling Aves.), Larpenteur Room
  • March 9 – Duluth – 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. – Duluth Entertainment and Convention Center
  • March 14 – Alexandria – 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. – Alexandria Technical and Community College, Room 211

More details are on the Minnesota Forest Pest First Detector page.

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