Help protect Vermont’s trees: become a Forest Pest Detector

The trap, above, is used for determining the extent of the emerald Ash Borer invasion.

Volunteers are needed to become Vermont Forest Pest First Detectors. Responsibilities include monitoring trees in their communities on a regular basis for the first signs of three destructive insect pests – the emerald ash borer, Asian longhorned beetle, and hemlock woolly adelgid.

First Detectors also will assist state agencies with site visits and sample collection and help increase public awareness through community outreach efforts such as meetings, exhibits and newspaper articles. Volunteers are asked to commit to at least two hours a month for a year.

Free training will be provided through University of Vermont (UVM) Extension and includes seven online modules and one day of field training. The online sessions must be completed prior to the all-day training, which will be offered from 9:45 am to 4 pm on two Saturdays in September. Volunteers may attend either session.

These trainings are scheduled for Sept. 15 at Castleton Community Center, Castleton, and Sept. 22 at Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller Forest Center, Woodstock.

To register, or if requiring a disability-related accommodation to participate, contact Caitlin Cusack, Forest Pest First Detector Program coordinator, at (802) 656-7746 or caitlin.cusack@uvm.edu by Aug. 31. Continuing education credits are available for both the online and in-person training.

The training will cover the roles and responsibilities of a certified First Detector as well as pest identification, survey protocol and tools, and how to respond to screening calls about various pests. First Detectors will receive a toolkit with a manual, sample collection supplies and other tools and reference materials.

Once certified, volunteers will have the opportunity to participate in other trainings and research projects; gain access to the National Plant Diagnostic Network’s resources and receive up-to-date information on forest pests threatening Vermont’s forests. Local federal and state agency personnel will be available for technical assistance and support.

To learn more about Vermont Forest Pest First Detectors visit www.vtinvasives.org/tree-pests/first-detectors/program.

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