Students from Millstone Township in New Jersey have done amazing work researching Invasive Phragmites and presenting their findings and action plans at Community Problem Solving Competitions. Now they have developed tool kits for teachers so that more students can get involved.
Phragmites Australis, also known as the European Common Reed, is an invasive species from Eurasia. Invasive Phragmites grow in extremely dense stands, outcompeting other native plant species and reducing open water surface area in wetlands. They also release toxins from their roots that can kill off native plant species. This reduces biodiversity and leads to a loss of habitat for wildlife. They can grow up to 22ft tall and have a much more dense seedhead than their native counterpart.
The Phearless Phragmites Phighters Millstone Township Elementary School Community Problem Solving Team has developed a digital strategy to get New Jersey students involved in tackling the Phragmite Invasion. They have developed an online teachers kit—PHRAGKIT4TEACHERS—to create awareness and give students the tools to take action. The kit will help students to differentiate between the invasive Phragmites Australis and its native counterpart. It will also encourage students to develop creative solutions and get local government involved. You can contact the Phearless Phragmites Phighters at email@example.com and follow them on Twitter @PHRAGPHIGHTERS.
The Phragmites are not only an issue in New Jersey. This invasive plant species has been spreading north of the border as well, in Southern Ontario and all three of the Prairie Provinces. In 2005 the “Phrag” was named Canada’s worst invasive plant by Agriculture and Agrifood Canada. For more information about Phragmites Australis in Ontario you can visit Ontario’s Invasive Species Awareness Program and the Ontario Phragmites Working Group website.