Online Education

Current Program

Invasive species education is for anywhere you are. The lessons we have developed can be used in the classroom as stand-alone topics, supplement classroom concepts, but also these lessons are for the curious learner who just wants to open the door and learn about topics on invasive species and water.

Each topic starts with a short video lesson and can be followed up by Creativity Corner activities on each topic. These activities work as extensions to every lesson. Click on the topics below to get started!

Online Learning Topics

Who doesn’t like bugs?! Macroinvertebrates are a fascinating window into how nature works. Watch a video to learn about the life cycle of a few different bugs, and how their behaviors differ between bug type and even between life stages. In this video, Mr. Matt also introduces the idea of Indicator Species and what they mean for bugs, and for us. To watch the video and access the activities, click here.
What do wolves, elk, beaver and cutthroat have in common? No, this isn’t the start of a bad joke. It’s the start of a whole new lesson by Mr. Matt! Learn what keystone species are and why they’re important to the world around us by watching the video then completing the activities here.
Have you ever seen a tiny turtle and thought, “I want one of those!” But what do you do with a pet you once thought you wanted but can no longer keep? Releasing pets into the wild can have unintended consequences for animals already living there. Learn what can happen when you release a pet into the wild by watching the video here.
Do you know what aquatic invasive species are and why we really don’t want them around? In this video, Leah walks us through the key information on impacts, spread and prevention of invasive species. Learn about a few different types of AIS and why they’re so bad for our favorite places, then try your hand at some fun and challenging activities here.
Do you know why our planet is sometimes called the Blue Planet? Watch this video to learn all about the water that gives the Earth its nickname. Matt teaches us about the continuous movement of water that’s above, below and on the surface of the Earth. Watch the video here.
Here at ISAN, we love water. We like to recreate on it, we like to drink it, and we like to help protect it from invasive species. And we’re betting you like water too! Watch this video to learn about where all the water in the world is and how people use it. Then learn what you can do to use it wisely. Watch the video here.
In this lesson, we walk you through what riparian zones are and talk about the different types of riparian areas there are in the world. You’ll also learn about why they’re so important to plants and animals both big and small. Watch the video here.
Interested in digging deeper into invasive species? Learn about one of the most prolific aquatic invasive species the United States has ever seen. Watch the video here.
We like hearing from you! Email us at: info@stopais.org

Additional downloadable activities for fun:

Aquatic Invasive Species Crossword  (AIS Crossword Answer Key)

Aquatic Invasive Species Word Search   (AIS Word Search Answer Key)

Aquatic Macro-Invertebrates Crossword   (AMI Crossword Answer Key)

Aquatic Macro-Invertebrates Word Search (AMI Word Search Answer Key)

Cutthroat Crossword (Cutthroat Crossword Answer Key)

Fish Dissection Crossword (Fish Dissection Crossword Answer Key)

Fish Dissection Word Search (Fish Dissection Word Search Answer Key)


Read more

ISAN & Didymo

Past Project

Why didymo? Contrary to other algae species, didymo represents an interesting paradox where didymo mats form under very low nutrient conditions. Also, managers continue to grapple with how best to address this species when faced with extraordinary mat formations. For the past decade, ISAN has had an interest in this unique species because of its management implications.

The alga, Didymosphenia geminata, commonly referred to as “didymo”, is a freshwater microscopic diatom. It is found in streams and rivers across much of North America. Didymo attaches to the streambed by a stalk and it forms thick mats that can alter aquatic ecosystems. These mats have a rough texture similar to wet wool and can look like strands of toilet paper.

In recent years, streams in New Zealand, North America, Europe, South America and Asia have noted unprecedented masses of “didymo”. This diatom is able to blanket up to 100% of stream surfaces by with thicknesses of greater than 8 inches, potentially altering physical and biological conditions within streams.


Cleaning equipment between uses on different freshwater systems is important to prevent the spread of didymo and other invasive species. If you can follow the simple Clean, Drain and Dry steps, then you will do a world of good.

For decontamination methods specific to didymo, you can learn more from the links below in the report “Decontaminating Equipment”. For more information on general cleaning practices, go to cleanangling.org.

Other resources of note include:


The Conference was held on March 12-13, 2013 in Providence, Rhode Island USA and proudly hosted by the Invasive Species Action Network and Northeast Aquatic Nuisance Species Panel.

The conference successfully brought together natural resource managers, researchers, conservationists, fishing clubs and others with an interest in learning more about didymo.


For management recommendations, read the Management Challenges of Didymosphenia geminata.

For a complete list of presenters and conference agenda, download the Conference Booklet.

Conference presentations:

  • Aunins – Genomic characterization of D. geminata: current progress and future directions.
  • Cary – A sensitive genetic-based detection and enumeration method for D. geminata.
  • Gills – Impact of D. geminata presence on juvenile Atlantic salmon: A project overview.
  • Kilroy – Plenary Speaker: Didymosphenia geminata: an extraordinary organism.
  • Klauda – Didymo infestation in Maryland, USA: A state agency’s reactions, responses and Felt/Results.
  • Kuhajek – Laboratory-based experiments to investigate didymo distribution patterns in New Zealand.
  • Montecino – On the biogeography of D. geminata in Chile: niche requirements and potential habitats.
  • Nelson – Identification, enumeration and measuring cell dimensions of D. geminata using an imaging particle analyzer (FlowCAM).
  • Pillsbury – Are the recent blooms of D. geminata in Lake Superior (USA) caused by an aggressive strain on environmental changes?
  • Richardson – Spatial distribution and ecosystem effects of a nuisance, bloom-forming diatom (D. geminata) in Catskill Mountain streams, New York.
  • Sanson and Gerbeaux – D. geminata in New Zealand:an update on current managment and research approaches.
  • Spaulding – Paleolimnological records of Didymosphenia geminata in North America.
  • Sundareshwar – Does sulfation of Didymo stalks facilitate iron adsorption and phosphorus concentration in mats?
  • VanPatten – Missouri’s proactive approach to didymo.
  • Zarnetske – Integrating invasion history with environment to model D. geminata hotspots across New Zealand.
Read more

Forest Pest Project

Past Program

The mission of this program is to teach people about the forest pest problem. Fly tying is a great way to gain attention for the education message but the important thing is the message. Forest pests affect us all and anyone can help spread the word.

Invasive pest insects are a significant threat to our urban and wild forests. Gypsy moths, Asian longhorned beetles, Sirex wood wasps and many other species have the potential to devastate our tree resources. Just one species, the emerald ash borer, has killed tens of millions of trees and is rapidly expanding to uninfected areas. The increased pace of global shipping has increased the ability of invasive insects to reach North America and we all need to take action to help protect our trees.

The best hope we have of dealing with these these invasive pests is to discover them early and the best way to do this is if lots of people are looking.

ISAN has developed a unique program that teaches people to recognize and report some of the worst invaders. This program uses fly tying as a basis for educating about the problem. Few people spend more time looking at insects than fly anglers and they are can be a great resource in the effort to identify new introductions.

Through the Forest Pest Fly Tying Project professional and recreational fly tiers learn to tie fly patterns that accurately represent the insects we are concerned about. These trained tiers attend fly fairs and sport shows and teach others about the problem and the solution.

Tiers are the backbone of the program and we need your help! We need tiers of all skill levels to help in various ways. In all cases we are able to supply fly tying materials if needed.

Demo tiers learn to tie realistic pest flies and conduct public demonstrations to teach others. We provide demo tiers with lots of support materials – information cards, handouts, banners, etc. We need demo tiers in all parts of North America.

Production tiers help by tying the flies that we use as handouts when we present the program to the public. At a busy sports show we can easily give away more than a hundred flies a day so we are always seeking tiers who are willing to send us flies for this use.

Realistic tiers help by tying the most realistic flies possible. We use these flies to teach about the program. They are especially useful when we present the program to non-anglers who are typically unaware of the ability of tiers to accurately represent any insect. We use realistic flies to accompany magazine articles and in many other ways.

You can learn a lot more about the program by downloading our Forest Pest Project Fly Tiers Handbook.


  • Volunteer: You can learn a lot more about the program by downloading our Forest Pest Project Fly Tiers Handbook.
  • Contact Us: Questions, ideas, or want to volunteer? Feel free to contact us.
  • Report Sightings: Learn to recognize the pest insects that are of most concern – if you ever see one report it immediately to your local USDA Forest Service, USDA APHIS, Conservation District, Extension office or state forestry department.
  • Don’t Move Firewood: Use local wood when you go camping. Learn more here: https://www.dontmovefirewood.org/.
Read more

Smith River Project

Past Program

In 2010, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks worked with ISAN to create invasive species outreach materials to influence the behavior of Smith River floaters about invasive species through the permitting process.

Smith River AIS Postcard

The program utilized three primary outreach contact methods. The first is the inclusion of information about AIS and protecting the Smith in the floater packet sent to all permittees.

The second contact comes via a post card mailed to the individual and timed to arrive about a week before their float.

The final outreach contact occurs at the Camp Baker put in where all floaters are required to receive an informational briefing from a Smith River Ranger.

Read more

Riparian Weed Mapping

Past Program

A Collaborative Effort to Address Noxious Weeds

Riparian areas are among the most diverse and important components of our ecosystem. Healthy riparian areas act as filters to maintain water quality, reduce streambank erosion, maintain a higher water table, provide forage and shelter for livestock and wildlife, and provide recreational and fisheries values. However, riparian areas are especially vulnerable to weed invasion because they are easily degraded by natural and human-caused events. 

However, riparian areas are especially vulnerable to weed invasion because they are easily degraded by natural and human-caused events.

The presence of noxious weeds in Montana’s riparian areas is poorly documented. Many of these areas are difficult for a landowner to access and, in the case of many islands, it is not clear who the landowner is. It is important that we survey our riparian zones to determine the extent of weed invasion and to begin to understand how control might be implemented. 

The Riparian Weed Project is a collaborative effort that brings together recreationists, landowners and weed managers to work on weed mapping and control projects. Since 2009 we have been compiling maps of the presence of terrestrial noxious weeds along the river banks of some of Montana’s rivers. 

Riparian Weed Maps

ISAN has archived maps available to those interested in this historic data. Please contact us if you are interested in requesting this data. Maps available include: 

  • The Upper Yellowstone River, 2009 (Paradise Valley downstream to near Billings)
  • The Madison River, 2010 (Reynolds to Ennis Lake)
  • The Madison River, 2010 (Warm Springs to Silver Bridge)
  • The Madison River, 2011 (Reynolds Pass to Ennis Lake)


Read and learn more about weed issues and ways you can tackle them.

Montana State Extension Service

Montana Weed Control Association

USDA Noxious Weeds

Read more

Felt Information & Regulations

Interested in a quick hit of information? Check out our sister site, CleanAngling.org:

Felt Information & Regulations

All kinds of equipment, vehicles and materials can transport invasive species to new locations. But felt is one material that has been the focus of attention for its ability to trap and transport invasive species. Felt is a material that is used on fishing boots and other river shoes, and can be difficult to clean. Studies have shown that sediment and invasive species can be trapped in felt. 

In some circumstances management agencies have taken measures to restrict the use of felt to prevent invasive species spread. Keep in mind, other materials can also transport invasive species particularly if they are not clean. We have provided a number of resources here for you to learn more on the issue of felt and invasive species.

Read more

Highlighted Work

what are we putting here

Read more

Don’t Let It Loose

Current Program

Since 2010, ISAN has worked with western state governments and independent pet stores to publicize options for pet owners who are no longer able or willing to care for their exotic pets. 

Why releasing a pet into the wild is never the right thing

Most pets released to the wild do not survive, and many suffer before they die. Pets are usually unable to find food or shelter in the wild and they are often an easy meal for another creature. If it does manage to survive, your pet becomes an invasive species that native wildlife may not have the defenses to compete against. Invasive species cause harm to the environment and the economy.

What to do if you can no longer care for a pet

It’s simple. If you have a pet you can no longer care for, you need to find it a new home – and never, ever, release your pet to the wild. If you are not able to place your pet with another caring owner, your best course is to contact an animal shelter, agency or even a pet store near you. The knowledgeable personnel in these places can help you find the right place for your pet. Use the resources on Don’t Let It Loose to locate the help you need!

Read more

Non-motorized Boater Outreach

Current Program

The non-motorized boater outreach project seeks to engage non-motorized boaters through a combination of mass market outreach combined with one-on-one interactions with boaters.

Clean, Drain, Dry Postcard

ISAN focuses on several regions to tackle this work: the Greater Yellowstone Area, the Grand Canyon, and nationwide.

One-on-one interactions with non-motorized boaters help to emphasize that they have a role in AIS transport and an awareness of the action they need to take to avoid spread.

With this in mind, ISAN reaches non-motorized boaters in a number of ways. First, ISAN employees and volunteers attend regional whitewater festivals and other water-related events.

Second, ISAN is working to enable permitted river managers throughout the West to adequately teach and engage permit-holding recreationists.

Third, ISAN and non-motorized boating manufacturers throughout the US work collaboratively to ensure that non-motorized boating customers receive Clean, Drain, Dry message with each purchase.

To become a Non-Motorized Boating Partner Manufacturer, please contact marya@stopais.org.



Read more

Education Workshops

Current Program

As invasive species issues attract more attention, it’s not unusual for agencies to receive requests from schools or teachers to provide programs dealing with invasive species. Unfortunately, many who are asked to provide these programs are not trained to lead educational programs or may be very uncomfortable at the task.

The ISAN Education Workshop is designed to address the training needs of agency personnel, teachers or other adults working with kids. The program helps people become comfortable at providing high quality invasive species education programs when requested.

The ISAN Education Workshop combine presentations about how to work with schools and students with hands-on training and how to deliver programs. Training is provided on how to interact with teachers and schools, how to deal with students of various ages and how different learning styles impact the ability to reach students.

Participants are supplied with the materials they need to conduct these same activities for groups of students. All participants leave our workshops with confidence that they can conduct a quality program.

ISAN Education trunks may be purchased separately from the workshops.  Please feel free to call with questions, or email info@stopais.org

See ISAN in the classroom, using what we teach in our Education Workshops:

Read more