Learning about aquatic invasive species: One of Keith Pearson’s science classes poses for a photo after listening to Ellie Kriese and Jerry Horgen talk about aquatic invasive species. The group listened to presentations by the duo as part of the AIS program’s Train the Teachers to Train the Kids.

Aquatic invasive species (AIS) are a major issue in the lakes in Otter Tail County. Keith Pearson, science teacher at Kennedy Secondary School is a leader among his peers in exposing his students to the prevention of the spread of AIS in the county.

On Sept. 24, Ellie Kriese, aquatic ecologist from RMB Labs in Detroit Lakes and Jerry Horgen from the Otter Tail County AIS Task Force were in all six of Pearson’s classes for the purpose of giving additional exposure to AIS issues in the county and state.

Kriese gave a presentation on “How AIS are spread,” “How can we prevent the spread,” “Where are AIS in Minnesota?” “Zebra Mussels, Bighead and Silver Carp, Spiny Water Flea, Curly-Leaf Pondweed, Flowering Rush, Eurasian Watermilfoil, Starry Stonewort etc.”  Horgen gave an overview of prevention measures and what the AIS Task Force is doing in the area of prevention.

As part of this AIS program (“Train the Teachers to Train the Kids”), students are offered the opportunity to make videos on how they would “tell their friends about prevention of AIS.”  Further, students are offered a cruise on Pelican Lake at Fair Hills Resort where students are taken out on a three-hour program on the water and followed up with an exercise on how to “Clean, Drain and Dry” your boat.

“The purpose of the program is to have kids train other kids on prevention of AIS,” Horgen said. “The future belongs to the kids and in Pearson’s classes, the kids were very attentive and were given a test and knew the answers to questions posed.  Our future is very bright with our young kids taking care of our lakes.”


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