OLYMPIA – School children in the Puget Sound area soon will be getting lessons on invasive species, thanks to a grant from the Washington State Invasive Species Council.
The council awarded $12,000 to the Pacific Education Institute, a public-private consortium of agencies, industries and educators, to teach students about invasive species. The institute will incorporate invasive species education and field trip opportunities into elementary, middle and high school curricula. The work will be led by the institute and five Puget Sound school districts: Issaquah, Tahoma, Highline, Federal Way and Auburn, and the Puget Sound Skills Center.
The goal is to teach students about invasive species, the harm they cause and how to prevent their spread. The institute also will develop policies for science programs to discourage the use of invasive plants and animals in the classroom.
“Invasive species cost Washington millions of dollars a year to combat,” said Chris Christopher, chair of the Invasive Species Council. “They can devastate crops, clog our rivers and streams, displace native wildlife and harm business dependent on Washington’s rich natural bounty. It’s important to teach children and adults about how they can be part of the solution.”
The institute also will educate teachers about not using invasive plants and animals in the classroom, what alternatives exist and how to properly dispose of them. Sometimes, plants and animals are released unintentionally into the wild or dumped outside where they can establish easily.
In other work, the Invasive Species Council was the recipient of a federal grant to help to spread the word about the potential dangers of transporting firewood carrying live invasive insects and diseases.
The $130,000 grant is part of the 2010 farm bill passed by Congress and part of a three-state campaign involving Washington, Oregon and Idaho. The “Don’t Move Firewood Education and Outreach Campaign” may include billboards and radio spots, firewood exchange programs, a pilot project that includes free firewood in campgrounds and an evaluation of the effectiveness of campaigns to help reduce the spread of invasive species.