Stop the Emerald Ash Borer by Educating Kids

By Susan Littlefield

The emerald ash borer (EAB) is an introduced pest that is devastating our native ash trees. First discovered in Michigan less than a decade ago, it has killed tens of millions of trees so far in sixteen states. Many more trees are at risk if this invader is not contained.

While it is thought that the borer arrived in wooden packing materials brought in by ship or air, its spread within this country is usually the result of human activity. One important way the borer can be introduced to new areas is when people unwittingly move infested firewood to their property or to campgrounds, fishing spots, and parks as they enjoy these natural areas.

Educating the public about how to prevent the spread of this beetle is vital to protecting ash trees from destruction. Educating youth about this problem has a double benefit. Kids learn what they can do and can then take those lessons home to spread the word to their families, friends, and neighbors.

To help, the USDA has prepared educational materials specifically for summer camps and programs, scouting organizations, schools, and environmental education organizations working with youth from ages 8-12. The materials are ready to use, fun, engaging, and free!

At the Kid's Corner of the USDA's Stop the Beetle website, you can order a free Leader's Kit (or print it as a PDF) that includes a four page leader's folio and creative activities, including an origami-style trivia game to make and a group-oriented outdoor activity. Also available on the site are an animated video describing the EAB life cycle, an on-line memory game, and more printable activities. Other sections of the site include lots more adult-oriented information.

To print or order a free leader's kit and find out more about ways to stop the EAB, go: Kids' Corner: Stop the Beetle.

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