Invasive species pose a serious threat to Maine’s ecosystems and native species. Few students understand this better than those at Massabesic Middle School, who hosted an Invasive Species Forum this fall.
The school has been conducting research about invasive species through GMRI’s Vital Signs program since 2010. This forum provided students a way to share knowledge with the community and recruit their help.
The students worked in teams to become experts on different groups of invasive species. On Nov. 6, about 500 students, teachers, community members, and scientists from across the state turned out to engage with the students on this critical topic.
“I liked that I got to teach my parents and grandparents something, rather than them teaching me,” said Victoria, a Massabesic student. “Also, I like that we got to work next to scientists who spend their lives studying invasives.”
Students led, and participated in, engaging activities throughout the day. They listened to presentations, handled live specimens, and teamed up with scientists to run educational stations. Several students even dressed up as invasive pests and wandered through the crowd answering questions. Throughout the day, students encouraged their guests to participate in Vital Signs to help monitor their community.
“This invasive species forum is something I will never forget,” said Jeffery, a Massabesic student. “It was exciting, fun, and full of fun facts, information, and people. It was, to me, an exciting, once in a lifetime experience.”
Special thanks to Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund and the Leonard C. and Mildred F. Ferguson Foundation for their funding support of Vital Signs.