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Aquatic Invasive Species Detectors featured

Legacy magazine, Summer 2017

From Legacy magazine, Summer 2017, University of Minnesota Foundation

Seven years ago, Anthony Vavoulis bought a place on a lake in Washington County, a short drive from his home in St. Paul. An avid kayaker, Vavoulis often found himself drawn to the edges of the water, where wetlands dominated. As Vavoulis’ boat slipped silently through the reeds and rushes, unfamiliar plants and animals surfaced as if from nowhere—it was a tiny magical kingdom hidden in plain sight. “Often, these plants looked the same, but up close they were actually quite different,” Vavoulis says.

His adventures in this watery world led him to a greater appreciation of Minnesota’s diverse ecosystem. As a U of M student, he had taken an elective course that focused on the state’s native plants—“It was one of my favorite classes!”—and his up-close interaction with plants, animals, and the landscape around his lake home reignited his interest. 

When he heard about a volunteer program that involved learning about native and nonnative aquatic species, Vavoulis jumped at the chance to participate. The program, Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Detectors, was recently launched by the University of Minnesota Extension and the Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center (MAISRC), in partnership with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR). 

Read full story Guardians of the waterways in Legacy magazine.

Visit Extension's Aquatic Invasive Species website to learn more and apply to become an AIS Detector.

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