Become a Detector

The AIS Detectors Core Course is an introduction to aquatic invasive species (AIS) science, identification, and surveillance. You will learn how to report invasive species, best practices for preventing the spread of AIS, relevant rules and regulations, and how to search for AIS on your own.

About the Course

Become an AIS Detector! This course consists of two portions: a self-paced online course and a live workshop with the instructors. The self-paced online course takes approximately 8 hours to complete, followed by either a one day in-person workshop or two 3-hour virtual workshops via Zoom. You will select which workshop(s) you will be attending during registration. 

The self-paced online content must be completed prior to the start of the live workshops. You must complete both workshop sessions in order to receive credit for the course and become a Certified AIS Detector. 

Your registration fee includes unlimited access to the self-paced online course, access to the live workshop(s) of your choosing, a copy of our AIS identification field guide, and networking opportunities with other AIS Detectors and experts. Lunch is provided for in-person workshops.

If the registration fee for the other workshops presents a barrier to your ability to participate in the Community Member track of the AIS Detectors Core Course, please visit our scholarship page to learn more about scholarship opportunities ( 

Tribal citizens:

The University of Minnesota Extension acknowledges we have an obligation to Tribal nations and their citizens to reduce barriers to participate in our programs and access our services. We are committed to strengthening our relationships with Tribal nations and their citizens and continue to take meaningful actions towards meeting our responsibility. Therefore, we are waiving the fees associated with Aquatic Invasive Species Core Course for Tribal Members.


The course has three tracks: community member, AIS professional, and group workshops. The community member track is for those who are planning to volunteer as AIS Detectors and who are not conducting AIS activities professionally. The professional track is for those who do not plan to volunteer and are instead looking to increase their knowledge base for work-related activities. Group workshops are intended for county AIS coordinators, lake association leadership, or anyone who wants to support a larger number of people becoming AIS Detectors. In a group workshop, you will work with AIS Detectors program staff to individually set up a workshop date and location.  

Frequently Asked Questions

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What is the benefit of becoming an AIS Detector?

Where do we start? There are so many great benefits of becoming an AIS Detector! To start with, you will:

  • Receive high-quality, scientist-reviewed training and resources 
  • Build your skills and confidence in AIS identification and reporting 
  • Gain new ideas for your education and outreach efforts 
  • Network with fellow AIS professionals as well as motivated volunteers in your area. Become part of the solution to AIS problems in Minnesota! 

What species are included?

The list of species focused on in this program was developed in conjunction with MAISRC’s Technical Committee. It includes some species that have already been found in Minnesota, as well as future threats. The course covers invasive plants including Eurasian watermilfoil, hydrilla, and starry stonewort; invasive invertebrates including spiny water flea, rusty crayfish, zebra mussels, and quagga mussels; and invasive fish including bighead carp, silver carp, round goby, and ruffe.

The Core Course for AIS professionals course includes an additional module on identifying invasive wetland vegetation that is not required for the community member AIS Detectors course. This module covers invasive plants including purple loosestrife, hybrid cattail, and invasive Phragmites.

The course will cover identification of each of these invasive species as well as their native lookalikes, and how to distinguish them. Advanced training opportunities will cover additional species. 

Who can take the AIS Detectors Core Course?

Any motivated adult over the age of 18 in Minnesota can participate. The AIS Detectors Core Course for professionals is designed for those who will use AIS knowledge in paid positions, rather than through volunteering. This can include county staff, state agency staff, consultants, educators, and other environmental and natural resource management professionals. You can learn more about community member involvement in the AIS Detectors Core Course on the AIS Detectors Community Member page.

What is the cost?

Your registration fee is dependent on the track (community member/professional/group). Registration includes unlimited access to the online course, access to two online workshops, course materials that will be mailed to you, an advance copy of the new edition of our AIS Identification Guide Book, and networking opportunities with other AIS Detectors and experts. If the registration fee presents a barrier to your ability to participate in the AIS Detectors Core Course as a community member, please visit our scholarship page to learn more about scholarship opportunities.