Forest Pest First Detector Volunteers Needed

ST. PAUL, Minn. (MDA) – Minnesota is looking for volunteers to join the “first detector” early warning system to help keep an eye out for new infestations of invasive pests. These volunteer “first detectors” make it more likely that infestations of emerald ash borer and other invasive tree pests 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 February and 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,” said MDA Plant Protection Director Geir Friisoe. “Many of the new infestations in Minnesota have been discovered by these 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 these destructive pests.”

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 12 - St. Paul, 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., Fort Snelling State Park, Thomas Savage Visitor Center
February 20 - Callaway, 8:15 a.m. to 2:45 p.m., Maplelag Resort, Middle Conference Room
February 26 - Little Falls, 8:15 a.m. to 2:45 p.m., Morrison County Government Center, Meeting Room 1
February 28 - Lamberton, 8:15 a.m. to 2:45 p.m., University of Minnesota, Southwest Research and Outreach Center
March 6 - St. Peter, 8:15 a.m. to 2:45 p.m., Linnaeus Arboretum, Melva Lind Interpretive Center
March 12 - Arden Hills, 8:15 a.m. to 2:45 p.m., Bethel University, Benson Great Hall Lobby

More details can be found online at http://www.myminnesotawoods.umn.edu/forest-pest-first-detector/.

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