Starry Trek

University of Minnesota Extension and the Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center (MAISRC) are again planning a coordinated, statewide search effort—Starry Trek—to identify new populations of the invasive green alga starry stonewort. We are also partnering with colleagues from University of Wisconsin Extension to make this a two-state effort. This is our second year organizing this event and we hope that you will join us as a local coordinator for volunteers in your area. This year Starry Trek will take place on Saturday, August 18th, 2018. If you would like to join us as a local host this year, there is a link to a form to complete at the bottom of this message.


More about Starry Trek

After new discoveries of starry stonewort in Minnesota lakes in 2016, UMN Extension and MAISRC organized the first Starry Trek in August 2017 to engage community volunteers to meet at local hubs, undergo a brief training by local host coordinators, and then be sent out to area lakes (public accesses) in pairs or small groups to implement a standardized shoreline search protocol. While this effort primarily targets starry stonewort, it also provides an opportunity to locate new records of other AIS as well; therefore, training materials cover other AIS that volunteers may be likely to come across. At the end of the day, volunteers return to their rendezvous point with completed datasheets and specimens of possible AIS where local hosts process these materials and report findings through the online portal EDDMapS. Last year volunteers participating in this event discovered the then 10th known infestation of starry stonewort in Minnesota enabling the local lake association and DNR to begin a rapid response control effort.


What Extension/MAISRC will provide

  • AIS monitoring kits: Rakes, rope, free tote bags for volunteers, boot brushes for AIS removal, waterproof labels for collected specimens, etc. [note, if you participated in Starry Trek last year, you will be expected to use the same equipment provided to you then (not including consumables)]
  • Local host coordinator training: Detailed information on how to coordinate local rendezvous sites and volunteer protocols will be presented via webinar and accompanying handouts.
  • Logistical support: We will work with coordinators ahead of time and be available on the day itself for questions that arise.
  • Standardized monitoring protocols for volunteers: These have been developed jointly by University of Minnesota and University of Wisconsin Extension programs focused on AIS.
  • Statewide promotion of the activity: We will use our networks to help recruit volunteers and refer them to local hosts in their areas and will manage statewide sign-up and registration of volunteers.


What we ask of hosts

  • Attend host training: Either by attending the live webinar or by viewing an online archive.
  • Commit to be available August 18, 2018 (and hold August 19th as a rain day): To train volunteers, staff your rendezvous location, and handle intake of specimens/datasheets. We anticipate the day starting by 8 AM and ending by 1 PM.
  • Provide input on search locations: We will use existing lake datasets and input from local host coordinators to prioritize locations for volunteers to search.
  • Communicate results: Enter information from volunteer datasheets into EDDMapS,  identify and/or ship specimens to Extension/MAISRC/DNR
  • Miscellaneous hosting duties: Perform some printing of materials to provide to to volunteers, offer modest refreshments (e.g., bottles of water, snacks).
  • Local promotion of the activity: Use your networks to recruit and engage volunteers.


Would you be interested in helping to coordinate this Starry Trek enterprise?

  • If so, please follow this link to provide further information: Starry Trek local coordinator form to provide us more information about yourself, your organization, and sites you feel should be targeted during monitoring efforts.
  • Please complete the form by June 7, 2018.

Please feel free to reach out with any questions you may have.


Thank you!!





Megan M. Weber  Extension Educator, Aquatic Invasive Species | Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center |

Assistant Extension Professor | Extension | Bunker Hills Activities Center

550 Bunker Lake Blvd Suite L1, Andover, MN 55304

University of Minnesota | | 763-767-3874