Workshops are scheduled around Minnesota this month for volunteers to serve as the state's early warning system for invasive species.
The training will focus on invasive species that attack trees.
Trained volunteers help find invasive species, but also help respond when invasive species are detected, said Minnesota Department of Agriculture Entomologist Mark Abrahamson. Trained volunteers are often the first to find a new invasive species.
"A good example of that is in 2009 after Emerald Ash Borer was found in St. Paul, we received approximately 2,000 calls from people who suspected they had also found Emerald Ash Borer, which was way more than we had the staff to cover," he said. "But using this volunteer network we were able to whittle that down to where we just had a couple hundred we had to follow up on. So it was very helpful to have those folks helping us out."
The network of detectors has been operating for about four years and now has about 400 citizen volunteers.