By Emily Bazydlo
Looking for a fun an innovative way to teach youth to identify plant pests and diseases in their communities?
Check out Plant Heroes, an educational campaign by the American Public Gardens Association with support from the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Serivce and Forest Service, offers free downloadable educational materials with fun characters that teach students about invasive species.
The campaign utilizes comics that demonstrate how students can be informed on various invasive species and the steps they can take when they think they have an invasive species problem. There are also games on the website and printable workbooks to engage students with "the Plant Heroes", four young adults who share a love of nature and interest in science. Together they form a "super team" to detect and combat bugs and diseases that harm plants and ecosystem health.
According to the Forest Service study 2013–2027 National Insect and Disease Forest Risk Assessment, 81 million acres of forested land have hazardous conditions for disease and insects. Plant species like the White Bark Bine and Red Bay are expected to lose 60 percent and 90 percent, respectively, of their basal area by 2027.
The situation is dire for many of our forested areas, with much of the Pacific Northwest facing the risk of tree mortality. With tools like the Plant Heroes educational materials, students can stay involved in their local forested areas and learn when to seek assistance from their state forestry agency.
The education campaign uses characters like Nate Green, a nature loving young adult interested in fungi, to tell stories about the fungus he and his other Plant Hero friends identified on their camping trip. The games and workbooks help to solidfy the lessons students will learn from these Plant Heroes. Check out the Plant Heroes website at www.plantheroes.org to learn more and download fun comics for the next generation of conservationists.
For additional educational materials, please visit the NASF store.