Penn State DuBois Introduces Kids to Environmental Issues
DuBois – Two Penn State DuBois Wildlife Technology students recently had the opportunity to inspire a new generation of environmental stewards. Students Doug Kessler and Liz Williams assembled a display titled, Invasive Species of Pennsylvania, for the 2010 Elementary Science Expo on April 12, at DuBois Area Catholic Elementary School. Their presentation detailed some of the non-native organisms that are the most damaging and threatening to Pennsylvania's environment.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, an invasive species is defined as a species that is non-native, or alien, to the ecosystem under consideration, and whose introduction causes or is likely to cause economic or environmental harm, or harm to human health. Invasive species can be plants, animals, and other organisms. Human actions are the primary means of invasive species introductions.
For their presentation, Kessler and Williams concentrated on mammals, like the feral hog, and insects, such as the Gypsy moth, Emerald Ash Borer, and Asian Ladybug Beetle. They also provided information on fish, like the Asian Carp, and plants, like Japanese Knotweed. Kessler and Williams were invited to present at the Expo after word spread that the students had completed a similar assignment in the fall for their Terrestrial Wildlife Management course. "Doug and Liz were required to develop an activity focused on invasive species for an elementary school-aged audience. Children were invited to class to participate in the activities the Penn State students had developed. I think it was quite a learning experience for both parties," said Keely Roen, Instructor of Wildlife Technology.
"Liz hand drew four or five invasive species and turned them into a coloring page for the kids. Also, we had a revolving picture show that played constantly at our booth," said Kessler. "We also had photos of both plants and animals, two pieces of ash tree, damaged by Emerald Ash Borers, preserved Emerald Ash Borers, and Asian Ladybug Beetles. Throughout the course of our demonstration we handed out pamphlets, magnets, and sticker tattoos."
The wildlife majors said they designed this demonstration specifically to get the importance of their message across to elementary age children, and they believe it worked. "The children acquired some knowledge about what some invasive species can do to harm the environment," Williams said. "I think teaching the kids that came to our booth about invasive species was a very good experience for me, and for the children."