Project Leader, Organisation

Jordan Bailey, NSW DPI

Status

Contracting

Background

2020 is the International Year of Plant Health and the Foundation, in conjunction with NSWDPI, will highlight the importance of biosecurity, the role it plays in protecting Australian agriculture and how citizen scientists can help. We are aiming to reach a large number of the general public and educate them on biosecurity and current exotic threats.

After observing how much fun children have searching for insects on fake plants at the NSW DPI Science Week marquee at the Royal Botanic Gardens in 2019, the DPI thought it would be great to expand the activity and hold a biosecurity plant pest and disease hunt.  This will be held during science week 2020, at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney.

Objectives and impact

Objectives – Raise biosecurity awareness and foster an appreciation for plant health and biosecurity efforts.

Methods – Participants are provided with an activity book and map and have to undertake biosecurity “surveillance” to find the exotic threats. It would be organised as a scavenger hunt where they would have to solve basic clues to locate the pests and diseases e.g. “This pest is a major threat to vegetables” would lead them to the vegetable garden. Staff would be located at these areas to hand out custom chocolates. The chocolates would have custom stickers displaying a select number of exotic threats. The stickers can be removed and placed in the workbook.

Once participants have visited all the booths, they’ll receive biosecurity warrior merchandise as prizes.

Impact – This will be a unique and engaging way to raise awareness to a large number of people in a positive way. Having people solve clues to find the booth locations would engage them in the activity and help confer information about exotic pests and diseases. The ‘hunting’ aspect of the activity can be used to raise awareness of the extensive surveillance that is undertaken at both state and national level and the important role of citizen scientists in biosecurity.