Aquatic Invasive Species provide ample opportunities to engage your students in local stewardship opportunities. Contact state and local organizations to find out about watershed needs and opportunities. Here are some quick ideas on how you and your students can make a difference in your local community.

The Lesson Plan Watershed Warriors guides teachers and students through the beginning steps in needs assessment and planning a community stewardship project with a local partner.

Encourage your students to learn to identify and report the invaders. Your local Watershed Council, Soil and Water Conservation District, Fish and Wildlife Conservation Agency or local government can help you indentify the top invasive species to report in your area.The data will be used by natural resource managers to prioritize and control new invaders.  

Find Local Resources: 

Report Invasive Species

By reporting invaders, you are contributing to important distribution data needed by scientists and managers.

Preventive Actions

Below are some responsible actions and behaviors by individuals and groups that may help generate student activities

Boaters:

  • Inspect. For motorized boats, look closely at the hitch, rollers, motor, propeller, axle and bilge. For non-motorized boats, look along the paddles and the hull. Remove any plants and animals that you find before entering the water.

  • Drain & Empty. Your motor, wet well and bilge should be entirely drained on land after leaving the water. Empty your bait bucket on land after leaving the water and never release live bait into the water or release aquatic animals from one water body into another.

  • Rinse & Dry. High-pressure, hot water is ideal for rinsing your boat. A garden hose is an option if there is nothing else available. Then let the boat air dry if possible.

Outdoor Enthusiasts:

  • Inspect and remove mud from boots, gear and vehicle. Invasive seeds can hitch a ride on your gear, boots and vehicle, so scrape and spray off any caked-on soil.

  • Use weed-free hay and local firewood. Avoid carrying invasive seeds into your favorite natural areas by bringing weed-free hay and buying firewood within a 50-mile radius of your campsite.

  • Don't “pack a pest” when traveling. Fruits and vegetables, plants, insects and animals can carry pests or become invasive themselves. Be sure to clean your bags and boots and throw out any food when you travel from place to place.  

Consumers or Travelers:

  • Know the origin of what you’re buying. Imported goods can be a pathway for invasive species, so buy local when you have the option.

  • Declare all food and plant materials at the airport. Many of these items are safe and legal, but let professionals make the decision instead of putting your natural resources at risk.

  • Don’t be a human pathway for invasives. When buying goods packed in crates or wood packaging, take a look. Report any holes or evidence of insects in the wood.

Pet owners:

  • Don’t ever dump your home or classroom pets. Don't release aquarium fish and plants, live bait or other exotic animals into the wild. If you plan to own an exotic pet, do your research and plan ahead to make sure you can commit to looking after it.  If you have a pet that you can no longer care for, contact your local pet store, humane society, veterinarian or other expert for guidance on appropriate and humane options.

  • Don’t dump your aquarium water into natural habitats. Many aquarium plants are invasive so if you’re going to throw them out, seal them in plastic bags before you put them in the trash.

  • Make responsible pet purchases. Many pets may live longer, grow bigger and take more care than you realize. Before you choose a pet do your research and be sure you’re ready to care for it long term.

  • If you not longer want your pet: 1) Give it back to the store, or ask a store for advice. 2) For aquatic plants. Strain and put water in the sink. Then freeze for 24 hrs. 3) Contact your department of fish and wildlife for guidance. Find someone willing to adopt it and aske them to take the pet adoption pledge. 

Anglers:

  • Inspect & clean. Be sure to remove any plants, dirt and water from your gear and clothing.

  • Dispose of bait properly. Empty your bait bucket on land after leaving the water and never release live bait into the water or release aquatic animals from one water body into another.

  • Never move live fish from one body of water to another. Other than floods, human pathways are often how invas]sive species move into aquatic ecosystems – like your favorite fishing hole.

  • Remember, everyone can make a difference in reducing and preventing the spread of invasive species.

Students:

  • You are actually our teachers, through examples, and through your efforts. “Be the Change!” is an important message to spread to your friends, family and teachers. By making the right choices and taking action, then telling your friends family and teachers what you did, you serve as a model and mentor, which is the most influential thing anyone could do.