One of the best ways to help protect Wisconsin waters from aquatic invasive species is by being a watercraft inspector with the Clean Boats, Clean Waters program. Watercraft inspectors are trained to organize and conduct a boater education program in their community. Both adult and youth teams work with boaters to learn how invasive species are most likely to hitch a ride into waterbodies. Inspectors perform boat and trailer checks for invasive species, distribute informational brochures and collect and report any new waterbody infestations.
According to Erin McFarlane, CBCW educator for the University of Wisconsin Extension Lakes program, inspectors are trained to tailor their conversation with boaters according to situation. “There are many different variables that an inspector needs to observe in order to best reach the boater. Is the boater entering or leaving a waterbody? Is the waterbody invaded or uninvaded? Is this the first time the boater is being inspected, or have they visited with an inspector multiple times during the season? All of these can factor into having a meaningful conversation with a boater.”
It’s no secret that practice makes perfect, and experienced watercraft inspectors will find this tailored conversation approach to be second nature. But what about the new inspectors? To help, McFarlane worked with the Wisconsin DNR video production crew and current watercraft inspectors to produce a set of training videos that cover common inspection scenarios.
The videos can be viewed on the UW-Extension Lakes website, and in the short amount of time they have been available they have already been utilized in Clean Boats Clean Waters trainings. McFarlane hopes that they will continue to help inspectors feel comfortable doing inspections. “We want to empower lake lovers to take action to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species in Wisconsin, and we’re confident that utilizing new technologies and formats like these training videos will help us do just that.”
Thanks to Dane County, Walworth County, Golden Sands Resource Conservation and Development, and Wisconsin Sea Grant for assisting with the filming of this video.