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Train Now To Become Forest Pest First Detector

East Charleston--Would you like to be on the front line of defense in your community for three devastating insect pests?

Vermont's Forest Pest First Detector Program, a partnership between University of Vermont (UVM) Extension and several state and federal agencies, will offer free training this month, which includes online modules and a day in the field on May 18 from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the NorthWoods Stewardship Center in East Charleston. Rain date is May 19.

You will be trained to monitor trees in your community for the first signs of the Asian longhorned beetle, emerald ash borer and hemlock woolly adelgid, pests that can cause serious damage to forests once they get a toehold in an area. The training will cover pest biology, impacts and identification; survey protocol and tools and responding to screening calls about various pests.

Once certified as a First Detector, you will receive a special toolkit containing a manual, sample collection supplies and other tools and reference materials. You will have opportunities to assist foresters and agricultural staff with site visits and sample collection as well as gain access to National Plant Diagnostic Network's resources and participate in other trainings and research projects.

In addition, you will be asked to help increase public awareness of these pests by setting up displays, writing newspaper and online articles and giving presentations at meetings. A two-hour commitment per month for a year is expected.

Contact Caitlin Cusack, Forest Pest First Detector Program coordinator, at (802) 656-7746 or caitlin.cusack@uvm.edu by May 15 to register or request a disability-related accommodation to participate. Ask about continuing education credits for both the online and in-person training.

A separate training will be offered in the Rutland area on June 8 (rain date June 9) at Merck Forest and Farmland Center, Rupert. Registrations will be accepted for that location through May 15.

To learn more about Vermont's First Forest Pest Detector Program, a joint initiative between UVM Extension; the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation; the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets and U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, go to www.vtinvasives.org/tree-pests/first-detectors/program

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