Become an AIS Detector
Join a trained network of volunteers and be part of the solution.
As the threat of AIS continues to grow across Minnesota, there is a need for an organized statewide surveillance network of trained volunteers eager to make a difference. In partnership with University of Minnesota Extension, we are filling that need with the AIS Detectors program. This program provides participants with high-quality training, developed and reviewed by AIS experts. Participants will learn principles of basic aquatic ecology, AIS identification, impacts, and biology, Minnesota rules and regulations, preventing the spread of AIS, and reporting. Upon completing the training, participants are equipped to volunteer around the state and make a difference in the areas of citizen science, outreach and education, stewardship, and support of AIS programs. We offer training each spring so that material is fresh for new volunteers as the summer season begins. Registration is currently closed for the season, but stay tuned! We will be announcing workshop dates and locations in January and opening registration in early 2019.
Who can become an AIS Detector?
Any motivated adult over the age of 18 can become an AIS Detector! It’s ideal for lake association members, recreational lake users, Master Naturalists, conservationists, young professionals seeking resume-building opportunities, local AIS task force members, and any member of the public who has a desire to learn more about and get involved in the fight against AIS.
What is the time commitment?
Certification requires completing approximately 16 hours of training, both online and in-person. The online portion can be completed around your schedule anywhere you have access to the internet. The in-person portion consists of a single, full-day workshop. You must complete both to become a certified AIS Detector.
Once certified, Detectors must complete 25 hours of volunteer service and 8 hours of advanced or refresher training each year to maintain their active status.
What will I do as an AIS Detector?
As an AIS Detector, you will serve a critical role in improving Minnesota’s capacity to detect, respond to, educate about, and manage aquatic invasive species. Examples of activities that count towards volunteer service hours include:
- Citizen Science: Completing new detection surveys, participating in Starry Trek, providing support to DNR detection and research projects, helping MAISRC scientists in the field, reporting incidental AIS discoveries
- Education/Outreach: Staff educational booths at the State Fair, county fairs, and other local events, help develop informational brochures, speak at your next Lake Association meeting or other event
- Stewardship: Build sampling equipment for AIS such as zebra mussel samplers or aquatic plant rakes, hand-pulling of AIS
- Program Support: Help with data entry from AIS projects, coordinate a volunteer event, stuff envelopes with AIS informational mailings
What is the cost?
The fee for the program is $195. Your registration fee covers unlimited access to the online course, a printed companion for the online training, the full-day in-person workshop (including refreshments and lunch), a copy of our new AIS identification field guide, and networking opportunities with other AIS Detectors and experts. Scholarship opportunities are available if the cost presents a hardship; a form will be available when dates and locations are announced.
It's a great program, and you don't have to just take our word for it: in 2018, the AIS Detectors online training won a silver award from the Association of Natural Resources Extension Professionals!