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Area teachers receive education on invasive species prevention [UPDATED]

Published 9:00am Friday, April 12, 2013 Updated 11:03am Friday, April 12, 2013

Area school districts are coming together to stop the spread of invasive species thanks to the Otter Tail County commissioners and the Area Invasive Species Committee of Otter Tail County.

Local teachers met Thursday for educational sessions put on by RMB Environmental Labs in Detroit Lakes and the DNR, demonstrating strategies for informing their students about invasive species. Held at the Lakes Country Service Cooperative, the program, “Training Teachers to Train Kids,” is one of the many efforts in the area to help fight invasive species from contaminating lakes.

“The intent is to plant the seed and have the kids spread the word to one another,” said Jerry Horn, committee member and a program organizer. “We want them to be shown how to take care of area lakes, what to do and not to do.”

Horgen said hopes the event will encourage classroom activities at area lakes and teamwork between districts.

Heading the educational session was Moriya Rufer of RMB Environmental Labs. Rufer distributed kits containing audio and video resources and samples of invasive species for classroom lesson plans. Mark Ranweiler, assistant invasive species specialist at the DNR in Fergus Falls, also demonstrated the department’s methods for inspecting and regulating transported watercraft.

Rufer said the day’s session was among many efforts by the committee to educate the public on invasive species. The committee also has installed signs on lakes accesses and billboards.

“We’re working on prevention, so there are different aspects of that,” Rufer said. “If everyone learns about the problem and knows what the species are, that will go a long way.”

Rufer also said educating children is especially useful in ensuring prevention because they have a feeling of ownership in their future.

“One reason to get younger kids involved is for them to tell their parents,” Rufer said. “It’s a whole process that kind of works backwards to the adults.”

Despite the spring snowstorm that limited attendance, Horgen felt the day was a successful start to something that should help future efforts to slowing the spread of invasive species. In the coming years, the committee hopes to continue working with educators to develop plans that stress prevention.

“We’re hoping to get a network of science teachers together to work with their input and cater to their needs in order to get the word out to the children,” Horgen said. “The county commissioners are saying that the best way to deal with this issue is education. This is just a good beginning.”

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  • MichaelJ

    Way, way too much energy being spent by these people on this. Their fine educational skills should be put to a better use.

    • BrendanJanssen

      Why do you say that? It’s a great ecological topic to bring up in science classrooms and the first step to prevention is education. It’s like killing two birds with one stone.

  • MichaelJ

    Sure, it can be a great science lesson. But to fight mother nature in this way is kind of silly. We can slow this spread a bit but we can’t stop it.

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