Become an expert in identifying aquatic invasive species in Minnesota

The University of Minnesota Extension education program is hoping to educate everyday Minnesotans on how to identify aquatic invasive species so environmental experts can better identify where and how the species are spreading. 

The University of Minnesota has a free downloadable guide to teach people how to tell the difference between native and invasive aquatic plants and animals. They are also offering two online courses starting on May 24 and May 25.

Megan Weber, a researcher and educator with the University of Minnesota, says they, and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, learn about the spread of invasive plant and animal species to new areas thanks to everyday citizens often. It’s important that these findings are reported to them, so they can intervene with mitigation efforts. 

"It allows for control to happen or management if it’s an appropriate option at the time of that, but also it helps other people know that there’s an invasive species there and they need to be taking some extra prevention measures before moving to another water body," Weber said. 

The University of Minnesota is also looking for volunteers to participate in their 2022 "Starry Trek" program, a statewide event focused on searching for starry stonewort, one of the newest aquatic invasive species in Minnesota, on Aug. 20. 

In past years volunteers have discovered new populations of the invasive species, helping researchers contain and study the plant.