Programs & Services

Education Video Series

Experts Explain It & Education Animations

Invasive species come in many forms and from many places. When introduced to an environment, an invasive species can quickly cause that environment to spin out of balance. Aquatic invasive species, invasive terrestrial weeds, bullfrogs, forest pests  are just a few examples of how species can live relatively quietly in their native range but wreak havoc when moved into a new environment. animations

Watch the animation for quick takes on invasive species, or watch the experts explain their fields in more detail. Below each video, we’ve included education packets to augment learning for fourth, fifth and sixth graders.

Education Animations

This animated video series walks us through the complex subject of invasive species and simplifies it into two minute consumable bites. 

Aquatic Invasive Species

Student Resources: AIS Education Packet

Invasive Bullfrogs

Student Resources: Bullfrog Education Packet

Invasive Forest Pests

Student Resources: Forest Pests Education Packetexplain

Experts Explain It

In this video series, we speak with three experts who have committed themselves to understanding the problems different kinds of invasive species pose. They answer common questions about what their jobs entail and why they study the species they study. They also explain why invasive species are such a problem, how invasive species affect Montana and its residents, and what we can all do to stop the spread of invasive species. Below each video, we’ve included education packets to augment learning for fourth, fifth and sixth graders.

Invasive Weeds

with Jane Mangold

Student Resources: Weeds Education Packet

Invasive Bullfrogs

with Adam Sepulveda

Student Resources: Bullfrog Education Packet

Invasive Forest Pests

with Alex Nordquest

Student Resources: Forest Pests Education Packet

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Virtual Classroom

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

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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)


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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.
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Forest Pest Program

Current Program

Invasive pest insects are a significant threat to our urban and wild forests. Gypsy moths, Asian longhorned beetles, murder hornets, spotted lanternflies and many other species have the potential to devastate our plant and natural resources. Just one species, the emerald ash borer, has killed tens of millions of trees and is rapidly expanding to new areas. The 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.

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.

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.


Fly tiersYou can learn to tie

realistic pest flies and conduct public demonstrations to teach others. Learn more about the program by downloading our Forest Pest Project Fly Tiers  Handbook. 

Outdoor enthusiastsWhether you spend time outdoors hiking, fishing, camping or gardening paying attention to insects and signs of their activity can be a big help.  You can report unusual sightings to First Detector Report a Pest

Check out some of the forest pests we are most concerned about here

Forest pests can be moved on firewood. The next time you go camping remember to buy it where you burn it and please don’t transport firewood long distances. Learn more about firewood and forest pests here

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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.

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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

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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.

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Highlighted Work

what are we putting here

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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. If you are looking for options now, please visit our Don’t Let It Loose website to locate the help you need.

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!

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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 and 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 learn more about the program or to become a card distribution partner, please contact marya@stopais.org.



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