Over fifty school teachers in Wisconsin raise and release Galerucella beetles as a part of their science programs, playing a valuable role in the biological control of Purple Loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria), an Eurasian import whose invasion of wetlands can be observed along any major highway in Wisconsin. These and other teachers have indicated they need a package of specific teaching aids and activities to help them frame the year-long beetle growth and release effort.
In August, Wisconsin Wetlands Association (WWA) teamed up with Brock Woods, the DNR’s Purple Loosestrife Biocontrol Coordinator, and ten educators for a three-day workshop to take the best of existing activities from Michigan, Illinois, and other programs on the biological control of Purple Loosestrife, modify them, add a few new ones, and standardize them to state environmental education and science standards. The goal was to produce a set of teaching activities that can be used by teachers across the state. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency supported the workshop.
During the workshop the teachers produced 15 activities, complete with background information, Internet references, and the state learning standards for environmental education and for science. Once they pass a final review by our teachers, we will seek funding to print the materials as a collection of curricular activities for statewide distribution. Within a year we hope to have a polished handbook of Purple Loosestrife and wetland activities for teachers of grades 6-12.