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Kids In Action is a collaborative project designed to increase student recruitment and retention. We do this by developing biological weed control skill sets and providing opportunities to implement these skills with teachers and land managers in Utah’s natural areas. Pictures on this page represent students ages 12 to 18 during Logan City Schools USTAR 2014 Summer Academy workshops at Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, Hardware Ranch Wildlife Management Area. The work was supervised by Cache County Weed Department staff and funded in part by U.S. Forest Service — Forest Health Technology Enterprise Team.

We are exploring the habitats in our backyards and making connections in nature.

   
Drawing a fly
Our science teacher, Andrew Semadeni says observation combined with journaling helps us identify insects. The “w” pattern on the wing is a key identifying feature of the Canada thistle gall fly.
Geo Caching
Cache County Weed Program staff made sure that all of us in Logan City Schools 2014 USTAR Summer Academy workshop at Hardware Ranch Wildlife Management Area know how to navigate to an existing waypoint using Garmin xTrex GPS units.
Inspecting insect damage
We used professional grade tools to find evidence of damage by Canada thistle stem weevils. The larvae of Hadroplontus (Ceutorhynchus) litura are producing damage in this early June photo. We discussed the realtime damage in the field with agency scientists.

We are searching out invasive plants that threaten our wildlife habitats, and we are taking action.

   
Searching for invasive plants
We learned how to identify Utah's top five invasive plants in Cache County. Breaking into groups, we used GPS skills to create waypoints to document the geographic coordinates so we could report sightings to the county weed supervisor, Joel Merritt.
Learning the difference between insects
We quickly learned that the insects in a knapweed-infested hillside are different from those in a Canada thistle infested meadow. We reported the GPS coordinates in our journal along with the weeds and insects we identified.
Insect damage in Canada thistle stem
We found larvae mining the stem in the Canada thistle-infested meadow and we found flea beetles in the knapweed hillside. By the second day, we were piecing together the evidence of life cycles–the Canada thistle gall fly larva and the knapweed adult beetle feeding in two different habitats in early June.

We are collecting and releasing insects to manage the spread of weeds and improve wildlife habitat.

   
Collecting insects with sweepnets
U.S. Forest Service — Forest Health Technology Enterprise Team provided us with heavy duty sweep nets for collecting insects in mountain terrain. We formed teams and sifted through the plant material, seeds, and insects looking for the insects we learned about in the classroom. Amber Mendenhall of U.S.D.A. APHIS Plant Protection and Quarantine taught us how to use aspirators to collect only the insects we wanted.
Using asperator to seperate insects fromother debris
Aspirators made it possible to ensure we were collecting the desired biological control insect without seeds and plant parts that could spread weeds to other sites.
Knapweed weevil
It was early and we weren't sure that we would be able to collect the knapweed root boring weevil called Cyphocleonus achates. Here it is. Evidence that Cypho is here the first week of June in a late spring year.

We are using evidence based activities to discover how weeds and insects interact and how we can improve plant communities over time.

   
Collecting insects
Our teams worked with Cache County Weed crew and agency land managers to identify the plants and insects at each site. We knew what we were looking for and we learned the key identifying features to connect what we learned with what we found.
Larning in the class room
We wrote in our journals throughout the day to collect our thoughts about what we learned, what we observed, and what to look for in the next field site. Liz Hebertson is an entomologist for Forest Health Protection. Liz, Mr. Semadeni, and Hardware Ranch WMA Assistant Director Marni Lee kept us moving from one activity to the next.
Insect collection at hardware Ranch
In two days we visited six different habitats at Hardware Ranch Wildlife Management Area. We worked individually and in teams. We learned how to take positive actions using insects to improve wildlife habitat. Most important, we learned how to work with our county weed department and the various groups who work with invasive species.

You can learn more about Kids In Action by contacting our partners:

Utah Division of Wildlife Resources Hardware Ranch Wildlife Management Area
Cache County Weed Department
Logan City Schools
USTAR Summer Academy and Mount Logan Middle School
U.S. Forest Service — Forest Health Technology Enterprise Team
InterMedia Productions Partnerships LLC
U.S.D.A. APHIS Utah Plant Protection and Quarantine
Utah Weed Control Association

A traveling exhibit is available for checkout for your county fair, classroom presentation, or workshop. Contact Cache County Weed Department at (435) 755-1562 or Hardware Ranch Wildlife Management Area at (435) 753-6206 or (435) 753-6168.

Leafy spurge bannerKA exhibit   KIA booklet

ABOVE: 4 pull-up banners.

ABOVE RIGHT: The Kids in Action Nature Identification Booklet features the top five native plants, top five invasive plants plus a biological control insect for each available in northern Utah, and top three wildlife species. The booklet contains games, sensory activities, and interesting facts. CLICK HERE or on the image to download (7 MB) and print a copy for yourself or others.

KIA tables   KIA "Spit For Elk

ABOVE LEFT: 16' leafy spurge roll out. ABOVE MIDDLE: 2 tables containing the nature circle collection activity. ABOVE RIGHT: "Spit for Elk" banner sunflower seed spitting distance contest.

Copyright © 2015 Utah Weed Control Association