The Don’t Pack a Pest! (DPAP) for Academic Travelers

A collaborative research-based project to inform outreach for academic travelers about the risks of traveling with agricultural items.

This work is part of the national Don’t Pack a Pest program, which was first launched in the 1990s by the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA), U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to educate travelers about the risks associated with carrying prohibited food, plants, and other agricultural products in passenger luggage.

We are working to research and adapt the DPAP message for the academic traveler, including faculty, scholars, international students, study abroad students, or anyone traveling internationally for their school or research.

We seek to collaborate with university/college international and study abroad programs, international agriculture programs, and faculty and scholars traveling internationally, to research and educate international travelers about the important Don’t Pack a Pest message. Join our growing national partnership to improve your students’ traveling experience. 

Products available (DPAP Toolkit) 

As a result of our survey and partnership engagement, we created a draft "DPAP Toolkit" of resources that can be used by international and study abroad programs to share with their students or colleagues. 

DPAP Brochure for Student Travelers. This quad-fold brochure highlights some of the risks posed by invasive pests and provides examples of generally prohibited items. It also introduces the Don't Pack a Pest program and outlines the process for declaring items to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The brochure is also available as a pdf

Powerpoint Presentation. For student orientations or to share with administrators

Template language. For use on a website, email, or newsletter

Linus video. A one-minute video starring the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agricultural produce detection dog, Linus. Linus informs the traveling public about prohibited items and declaring agricultural items. 

Land Air Sea Video. A highly visual 30 second video showcasing the many resources we are protecting when we "Dont Pack a Pest".

Don't Pack a website and resources including guidelines on what is restricted

Message delivery opportunities guide. A guide on how to share the DPAP message developed for International and Study Abroad Program administrators 

International student journey map. Identifies critical steps and points of engagement that students experience as they start and complete the process of coming to study in the United States. 


Why are invasive pests an issue?

Invasive species cause approximately $120 billion in damage and control costs annually throughout the U.S. (Pimentel et. al. 2005). A wide variety of damaging pests, plants and diseases are regularly intercepted in U.S. ports by CBP officials as international travelers and cargo ships arrive from overseas. For example, at least one pest or disease is introduced into Florida every month (on average), including pests new to the U.S. (Don’t Pack a Pest, 2016). These can include pests and diseases such as avian influenza, Chinese mitten crabs, giant hogweeds, khapra beetles, Mexican fruit flies, and many more.  

African swine flu is a current example of the real threats posed by pests and diseases that can hitch hike in people's luggage. This Washington Post article, The Deadly African Virus That’s Killing China’s Pigs, and a simlar Reuters article, China warns of surging wordlwide prices for pork as African swine flu spreads describes the recent spread of African swine flu in Asia and its potentially devistating economic impact. Analysts expect a 70% increase in prices for pork in China, and Chinese farmers are expected to cull 200 million pigs due to the African swine flu in 2019. African swine flu can be spread accidentally by international travelers packing pork meat products, and highlights the important role that international travelers play in preventing this devastating disease from spreading even further by taking care to not to pack items that could harbor damaging pest. 

Why work with university international student and study-abroad programs?

International and study-abroad students are the largest group of international travelers. The United States hosts the largest number of international students of any country, and over the past 15 years the number of international students in the U.S has grown by 72 percent. Working with student travelers, including international and study-abroad students, offers mutual value and opportunity to engage in learning, and to be part of the solution to invasive species and positively affect the well-being of our society as a whole. This work seeks to engage students and institutions in learning how the Don’t Pack a Pest! campaign can be used to bring value to both students and their programs.

Why a research approach?

This project is unique in that it takes a science-based research approach to fully understand the current system of international student programs and student awareness and behavior. We will use this information to develop education and outreach tools for our Don’t Pack a Pest! campaign that are designed to support and improve international and study abroad programs. 

Success through partnership building

Our success rests in our international program partners in Oregon, including the NORIE Association, which has worked with us to survey its international students and provided critical feedback on the development of outreach materials. Accurate, researched-based information on student experiences and needs as they relate to understanding the Don’t Pack a Pest! program will result in better information and support for the international and study-abroad student. 

We also work closely with our state and federal agency partners that are responsible for enforcing and monitoring travel regulations. These partners include USDA-APHIS, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Oregon Invasive Species Council, Port of Portland, and State Agriculture Departments in Oregon. Our agency partners served in an advisory role and as technical liaisons as we developed the research plan, outreach materials and technical workshops.

Join us! Become a DPAP Education and Research Partner

Would you like to join our growing network of partners working to develop the Don’t Pack a Pest! program for student travelers? We invite academic institutions to be part of this research-based effort to expand the DPAP for students by helping us conduct a student focus group workshop, or distribute our IRB-approved survey to their students. In addition, we invite institutions to utilize our educational products as part of your international student or study-abroad programs. With your help, we can develop helpful information for your international or study-abroad students that supports their overall travel experience.

Our team

This project represents a diverse partnership, including state-level agencies, international student programs at universities and colleges, and international educator associations. We come together through a mutual interest in helping to protect our land and water from the impacts of invasive species, pests, and diseases. We aim to help all student travelers in understanding and easing the process of travel regulations.

Research Team: 

  • Samuel Chan, Tania Siemens, Kayla-Maria Martin, Noelle Moen, Dulguun Baasansuren, Wiinnie Kong, and Aaron Cathcart, Oregon Sea Grant College Program, Oregon State University

  • Linda Chilton, University of Southern California Sea Grant
  • John Vreyens, University of Minnesota Extension, Director of Global initiatives
  • Doug Jensen, Minnesota Sea Grant 

Oregon Partners:

  • Clint Burfitt and Sean McMillen, USDA-APHIS

  • Helmuth Rogg, Oregon Department of Agriculture

  • Nicole Brooks, U.S. Customs and Border Protection

  • Maureen Minister, Port of Portland

National Agency Partners:

  • David Pegos, California Department of Food and Agriculture

  • Joe Scheele, US Customs and Border Protection, California Agriculture Liaison

  • Jared Franklin, US Customs and Border Protection, Texas Agriculture Liaison

  • Christina Bunch, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services

  • Heather Curlett, USDA APHIS, Washington, DC

  • Mark Hitchcox, USDA APHIS, Ohio

  • Julie Scott, USDA APHIS PPQ, Illinois

  • Heidi Kennedy, USDA APHIS SITC, Illinois

  • Eunett James-Mack, Customs and Border Protection, Florida Agriculture Liaison

  • Owen Shiozaki, USDA APHIS Supervisor, Seattle, WA

  • Dennis Martin, USDA APHIS

Institutional and Program Provier Partners:

  • Ryan Dye, Director, Study Abroad at Miami University

  • Vanessa Walton, Study Abroad Program Director, University of Minnesota

  • Rachel Weber, Oregon State University

  • Kelsey Toyoda, Spanish Studies Abroad

  • Johann Besserer, Executive Director, Intercultural Opportunities Exchange

Additional resources:

Blog: The “Don’t Pack a Pest!” Campaign: Outreach to all International Educators

Don't Pack a Pest website and resources including guidelines on what is restricted

Oregon Invasive Species Council

US Customs and Border Protection

United States Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service

Contact Us

Please contact us at [email protected] with questions or for more information about participating in this research.