Forest Pest First Detectors

Forest Pest First Detectors

Want to do something about Invasive insects?

Did you know that most invasive insect infestations are first discovered not by professionals, but by alert community members? In response to the growing threat of invasive pests to Vermont’s forests, state and federal partners identified a need to train local volunteers to assist with ongoing outreach, education, and local planning and surveying efforts. To address this need, the Vermont Urban and Community Forestry program developed Vermont's Forest Pest First Detectors (FPFD) program in partnership with the Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation and the Agency of Agriculture, Farms and Markets. Vermont FPFD volunteers are on the front line of defense against forest pest infestations. Since 2008, over 160 people across the state have completed the training and become Forest Pest First Detectors.

Winter 2022 On-Line Training: For the Birds!

This is a self-paced, on-line, introductory level course. This version of the course will have a special emphasis on the relationship between forest health, invasive pests, and birds, and is co-hosted with Audubon Vermont, Vermont Center for Ecostudies, VT Fish and WildlifeVT Dept. of Forests, Parks, and Recreation and the VT Agency of Agriculture, Farms, and Markets. It will cover the importance of Forest Pest First Detectors and what they do; basic information on the life cycle, signs and symptoms of specific pests; how to report suspected infestations; and opportunities for volunteering and educating others in your community. The course focuses on emerald ash borer, hemlock woolly adelgide, and Asian longhorned beetle. New material will address: spotted lanternfly, jumping worms, oak wilt and beech leaf disease. There will be the opportunity to have hands-on experience through three field trips: 

  • Monitoring for hemlock woolly adelgid (Jamaica State Park)
  • Managing Forests for Birds and Forest Health (Green Mountain Audubon Forest)
  • Emerald ash borer infestation and biocontrol site (South Hero) 

Who should participate?

The course is designed for anyone who wants to learn more about invasive forest insects, look for them, and educate others about them. It is appropriate for people with little to no prior experience with invasive insects or who are looking for a refresher to a previous Forest Pest First Detector course. * Please note: no continuing education credits will be offered for this course.

About the Course

  • This is a free, self-paced course, designed to introduce participants to basic concepts and resources.
  • Composed of eight sections with optional exercises to test your knowledge.
  • Each section has videos and content that can be completed on your own schedule.
  • Live optional webinar discussions with state experts on different topics (these will be recorded).
  • This course requires internet access.

Course Schedule

February 21 - April 17

This is a self-paced course, hosted online and accessible when you have time to complete the materials. All events below are optional. Live Webinars and Discussions will be offered via Zoom Meetings.

  • Feb 21, 7 pm: Welcome & Introduction webinar
  • Feb. 22, 12pm: Live webinar: Intro to Insects
  • March 2, 7pm: Live webinar: Seeing Forests for the Birds
  • March 5: Field trip (Jamaica State Park)
  • March 20: Field trip (Huntington)
  • March 30, 12pm: Live webinar: Q&A on Spotted Lanternfly
  • April 2: Field trip (South Hero)
  • April 5, 12pm: Live webinar: Oak Wilt and Beech Leaf Disease
  • April 13, 12pm: Live webinar: Taking Action

By the end of this course, participants will be able to:

  • Understand and explain the threats posed by invasive forest pests.
  • Identify the host trees, signs and symptoms, and common look-alikes of emerald ash borer, hemlock woolly adelgid, and Asian longhorned beetle.
  • Locate information on and other resources on invasive forest pests.
  • Submit reports of suspect infested trees or pests to
  • Participate in volunteer opportunities to prepare for or address these pests in your community.

Registration is closed for the spring 2022 course.

Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA):  To request a disability-related accommodation to participate in this program, please contact Ginger Nickerson at or (Cell) 802-505-8189 or (Office) 802-476-2003 by February 7, 2022, so we may assist you.


Contact Ginger Nickerson at or 802-505-8189.