The Massachusetts Introduced Pest Outreach Program is new collaborative project between the Massachusetts Department of Food and Agriculture (DFA) and the University of Massachusetts Extension Agriculture and Landscape Program. The main goal of the project is to educate professional and trade groups about the threat of invasive species and the need for early detection and response measures such as quarantine and eradication to exotic, potentially invasive pests, including plants, arthropods, and pathogens. Education about the invasive species issue results in more eyes in the field and increases the likelihood that a newly introduced exotic will be detected before it becomes established.
The outreach project consists of three basic components: (1) the development of an educational network, (2) talks or table displays at trade shows and conferences, and (3) a website. The educational network is developed by creating connections with professional and trade groups in agricultural, floriculture, nursery & landscape, government agencies, forestry, and conservation organizations. The newsletters and email lists of these organizations serve as a valuable resource for spreading the word about a specific introduced pest to a target audience who might encounter that pest in their everyday work. The educational presentations cover the impact of invasive species and specific pests that could become a problem in Massachusetts. The website contains tools for identifying pests, a web-based reporting system that allows the DFA to track new pests and respond with appropriate actions, and a series of commodity specific email listservs to distribute pest alerts.
Keywords: education, invasive species
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