2022 – Central District All Faculty Symposium – Natural Resources
K. Stump, UF/IFAS Extension Osceola County, Kissimmee, FL.
Situation: Invasive plants are non-native plants that cause damage to the environment, economy and/or human health. Invasive plant control is costly and complicated, requiring multi-agency management efforts and significant funding. Public awareness and education can encourage behaviors to help limit the spread of invasives. In addition, public support helps maintain government funding for invasive control. Methods: A systems-based investigative activity was developed to better educate residents about the complexity of invasive plant management. Ten participants of a Florida Master Naturalist Invasive Plant virtual course selected one local invasive plant to investigate. They investigated its social, ecological, and economic impacts then created a systems map to illustrate its impacts. Results: Each student shared their map in class followed by a group discussion. 100% of participants (n=10) reported learning something new about invasive plant management from the activity. 100% also indicated that they are more likely to support invasive plant management efforts after completing the course. Conclusion: Residents better understood the complexity of invasive plant management after engaging in a self-guided investigative activity. Public education can lead to greater support of invasive plant control – a much needed public service to protect our environment, economy, and well-being.