Curriculum and website help teachers educate students about aquatic invasive species

An invasive red swamp crayfish
Morganne Price holds an invasive red swamp crayfish during a workshop about invasive species. Photo by Tiffany Woods.

Aquatic invasive species can damage water resources and eat or displace native organisms. Educating children, who can serve as models of change, about invasive species is one way to prevent their introduction.

Sea Grant programs in Oregon, Washington and California created the “Aquatic Invasions! A Menace to the West” curriculum and website to help educators teach students about aquatic invasive species. The curriculum consists of 20 lessons, an extensive glossary, and factsheets and learning activities focused on 12 aquatic invaders. Oregon Sea Grant Extension produced the curriculum and corresponding website. OSG Extension also taught 50 teachers about aquatic invasive species at two events in Newport and Salem. In May 2016, OSG Extension showed 10 students how to look for invasive species at Yaquina Head on the coast. OSG Extension also continued to loan educators suitcases containing guidebooks and examples of invasive species for use in the classroom.

After the trainings, educators borrowed the activity suitcases to use with their classrooms. Additionally, entities such as the Aquarium of the Pacific and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service used the resources in their programming. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service used the curriculum for their work with the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission. In 2016, an estimated 130 teachers implemented the curriculum, reaching an estimated 3,900 students. Two teachers who used the curriculum won an award from the Oregon Invasive Species Council in 2016 for their initiative designed to inspire students to create art and videos about invasive species.

Sources: Sam Chan and Tania Siemens, both watershed and aquatic invasive species experts with Oregon Sea Grant and OSU Extension

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