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Forest Pest First Detectors honored with Carol Mortensen Invasive Species Management Award

Media Contact: Catherine Dehdashti, University of Minnesota Extension, office 612-625-0237, cell 651-329-2427,

ST. PAUL, Minn. (11/9/2012) —The Forest Pest First Detector Program was honored receiving the Carol Mortensen Invasive Species Award for Team Achievement, presented at the Upper Midwest Invasive Species Conference, in La Crosse, WI on Oct. 30, 2012. This award from the Minnesota Invasive Species Advisory Council recognizes the contributions of an individual or team devoted to managing invasive species. It is presented in honor of Carol Mortensen, a pioneer on invasive species work in Minnesota.

The Forest Pest First Detector Program is a joint project shared among University of Minnesota Extension, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources with significant contributions from the Tree Inspector program. In the first two years of the program, more than 400 people committed to become First Detectors and many more attended training sessions. This training program was modeled after the soybean rust First Detectors program, to address tree pests in a similar fashion. First Detectors look for the establishment of invasive species, and greatly improve management options.

First Detectors have played a key role in a number of pest detections, including the first find of Emerald Ash Borer in Minnesota. They have also helped to preserve the ash tree gene pool by gathering ash seeds and collecting information for storage. Additionally, First Detector efforts include other new invasive forest pests such as Oriental Bittersweet. This team established a presence, developed the expertise and knowledge base, and rapidly deployed an effective outreach education and management program statewide and beyond using a train-the-trainer model to exponentially increase their impact.

Team members include Extension faculty and educators: May Kay Ferguson, Angela Gupta, Jeffrey Hahn, Dean Herzfeld, Gary Johnson, Mike Reichenbach, and Gary Wyatt; University of Minnesota Department of Entomology assistant professor Brian Aukema; Minnesota Department of Agriculture's Mark Abrahamson, Monika Chandler, Bob Koch, Kathy Kromroy, and Lucy Hunt; Minnesota Department of Natural Resources' Val Cervenka and Ken Holman; plus numerous detectors and supporters throughout Minnesota.

The Minnesota Invasive Species Advisory Council congratulates the Forest Pest First Detector Team on their achievements.

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