Starry Trek returns this August, as a new crew of volunteers will set out to explore new lakes, seek out new AIS, and to boldly go where no volunteer has gone before (ok, maybe not that last one). On Saturday, August 21st, volunteers will rendezvous at local training sites across the state to receive training on sampling and identifying aquatic plants and AIS before setting out to their assigned lakes to search for starry stonewort and other priority invaders. Since 2017, Starry Trek volunteers have found over 40 new occurrences of AIS in Minnesota, including four new populations of starry stonewort.
Local training sites are a huge part of the success of Starry Trek. Every year, Starry Trek includes over 20 local training sites statewide that are hosted by Soil and Water Conservation Districts, lake associations, AIS Detectors volunteers, City and County Parks departments, and small businesses. Local site coordinators contribute to Starry Trek in multiple ways. First, they provide insight into which lakes in their area would benefit from being monitored, such as lakes with high boat traffic, lakes that are geographically close to other infested waters, or lakes that have not been monitored recently. The AIS Detectors Program team takes these insights into careful consideration when selecting which lakes and public accesses to assign to Starry Trek volunteers. Local coordinators also help prepare for Starry Trek by recruiting volunteers to their local training site and communicating with their volunteers in the lead up to the event.
On the day of Starry Trek, local site coordinators play many roles, including training and supporting volunteers at the local training site and submitting reports of potential AIS to AIS Specialists at Minnesota DNR. While this work may seem a little daunting at first, local site coordinators receive training from the AIS Detectors team, MAISRC, and MN DNR about AIS identification, sampling procedures, and volunteer management. Although we may not be able to offer holodeck training exercises (yet), all local site coordinators are thoroughly prepared to step into their role as Captain when it’s time for Starry Trek to engage!
If you are interested in participating in Starry Trek as a volunteer, registration will open on July 2nd. If you are interested in being a local site coordinator, please contact [email protected] for more information.
Live long and monitor!