Oregon Sea Grant Extension helps higher-ed travelers avoid spreading invasive species

Sam Chan is an expert in aquatic invasive species and watershed health
Sam Chan stands along the Willamette River in Corvallis. Photo by Tiffany Woods.

International travel can contribute to the spread of invasive plants, animals, fungi and diseases that can harm environments, economies and human health. As more international and U.S. students study abroad, there are more opportunities for invasive species to be transported in luggage.

In 2016, Oregon Sea Grant Extension adapted the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s “Don’t Pack a Pest!” campaign to raise awareness among academic travelers about risks and penalties associated with carrying prohibited species and materials into the U.S. As part of the project, Oregon Sea Grant Extension surveyed more than 700 international and study-abroad students at six major Oregon universities and colleges. The survey identified critical control points at which invasive species are known to spread during travel.

Oregon Sea Grant Extension also held two workshops that engaged more than 40 participants, including international program administrators from a range of Oregon institutions. Attendees suggested essential outreach information to share with students, including customs and border patrol regulations, packing tips, and alternative sources for desired products, along with effective outreach and engagement products. Distributed products included a flyer and a “Student Journey Map,” a travel diagram outlining where critical control points may occur during travel.

Source: Sam Chan, a watershed and aquatic invasive species specialist with Oregon Sea Grant and OSU Extension

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