By Jarred Shellhouse
Agricultural education and communication graduate students in the UF/IFAS College of Agricultural and Life Sciences are hosting a free electronic field trip series for middle and high school students in Florida and beyond.
Beautiful Invaders: Invasive Plants and Our Planet will allow students to connect with scientists and staff from the UF/IFAS Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants (CAIP), a multidisciplinary research, teaching and Extension unit focused on developing and disseminating strategies to address the impact of invasive plants. Through the series, students will learn about aquatic and invasive plants, how they impact the planet, biodiversity and tropical ecosystems, and how scientists work to identify solutions and practices for management.
Registration for all three EFTs is currently open at no cost to the participant. To register, learn more about the project or take a 360° tour of the UF/IFAS Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants, visit streamingscience.com/beautiful-invaders/.
“We have hosted different electronic field trips through the Streaming Science project for a few years,” said Jamie Loizzo, assistant professor of agricultural communication at UF/IFAS. “In the past, we have focused on bats, forest conservation and even alternative energy. This year, we are excited for our partnership with the Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants and have even opened up our program to offer multiple sessions.”
Three live, web-streamed EFTs will take place through the Zoom videoconferencing platform. Schools can participate in real-time or watch an archived recording at a later date. All EFTs are anticipated to last 45 minutes. Each program will feature a different member from CAIP.
- Nov. 12 at 2 p.m.: Lara Colley, Florida invasive plant education initiative coordinator, will be featured in the program. This EFT will focus on ecological and economic impacts of invasive species.
- Nov. 19 at 2 p.m.: The second program will feature James Leary, assistant professor of invasive species management. Leary will focus on invasive plants, their impact on Florida’s ecosystems and the role of drone technology in managing invasive plant species.
- Dec. 3 at 2 p.m.: Biological scientist Kelli Gladding will be featured in the third and final EFT for the year. The focus of this program will be on the impact of invasive species on Florida’s waterways and the spread of hydrilla.
“I am really excited to connect students around the state with scientists at CAIP,” said agricultural communication graduate student Valentina Castano. “We have been working really hard to create an interactive environment so middle and high schoolers that tune in can ask questions and be part of the learning experience, which I think is really special.”
Streaming Science: Electronic Field Trips are supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, hatch project #1020962.
The UF/IFAS department of agricultural education and communication, housed in the UF/IFAS College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, prepares students for successful education, communication, outreach and leadership careers in agriculture and natural resources.
The College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS) administers the degree programs of the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS). The mission of the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences is to deliver unsurpassed educational programs that prepare students to address the world’s critical challenges related to agriculture, food systems, human wellbeing, natural resources and sustainable communities. The college has received more total (national and regional combined) USDA teaching awards than any other institution.