Teaming Up with the Outsmart Invasive Species Project
By Julia Sullivan
The Northampton Tuesday Farmers’ Market on July 9th was our fourth farmers’ market of the summer, but the first one to have an Outsmart Invasive Species Project specialist join our booth! The Outsmart Project is a collaboration of individuals from UMass, the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Nature Conservancy working to stop the spread of non-native plants and insects that threaten the health of our environment. The Project has developed an awesome smartphone application that allows users to report invasive plant and insect species quickly and easily. It includes identification training videos and lots of other helpful information.
This summer, the Outsmart Project is focusing on mapping the distribution of five plants: glossy buckthorn, Japanese knotweed, multiflora rose, autumn olive, and invasive honeysuckles. With such similar missions, Outsmart and Don’t Move Firewood made a great team. Our table was brimming with both insect and plant samples, and the combination allowed us to convey the gravity of invasive species as a whole. In one case, an avid herbalist was drawn to the table because of the plant samples. He had a lot to talk about with our Outsmart representative, and we were able to provide him with some important information about the emerald ash borer and Asian longhorned beetle. Who better to keep an eye out for these insects than someone who frequently traipses through the woods!
We had a great setup and spoke to swarms of people who were truly interested in what we had to say. There were kids constantly surrounding our prize wheel, begging to take more quizzes on the emerald ash borer and Asian longhorned beetle. We had some brave souls demand invasive insect tattoos on their cheeks, and we continued to surprise and impress people with our freebies. (I ran into someone rocking one of our Tree shirts yesterday at my brother’s soccer game! Turns out she’d won it on our prize wheel at the farmers’ market!) All in all, it was a great day.
If you have an iPhone or Android: Download the FREE Outsmart Invasive Species application through iTunes or Google Play, and you’ll be prepared to identify and report invasive species anytime. Check them out on Twitter @outsmartapp!