Invasive Plant Species Module- Teacher


Welcome Teachers!

Thank you for selecting this service learning module through the Coalition for the Upper South Platte (CUSP). 

When it comes to the environment, we tend to “sweat the big stuff” like massive forest fires, climate change, and pollution from factories.  As we deal with these very visible issues, we sometime overlook the less obvious problems.

Invasive species are currently the second leading threat to biodiversity.  Habitat destruction is the leading threat (  However, unlike pollution and fires, invasive species do not generate much media attention. 

This module focuses on invasive plant species.  Throughout this module you and your students will learn the ecology behind why invasive species can be so destructive.  Students will gain an understanding of how invasive plants spread and will be exposed to some of the methods of removing such plants.

Invasive plants is an issue of concern in the Upper South Platte Watershed.  CUSP focuses on noxious weeds, one category of invasive plants.  After completing this module, students will have the opportunity to participate in a service-learning day with CUSP staff in the watershed to remove noxious weeds.  They will learn first-hand the challenges of removing invasives and the importance of preventing the establishment of invasive species.


Sarah Lykens
Outreach Assistant
Coalition for the Upper South Platte

Service opportunities through CUSP that would complement this curriculum include activities such as noxious weed removal and noxious weed prevention.  To schedule a service-learning activity, please click here.

 Teacher’s Guide
Walking Through the Curriculum
The Invasive Plant Species Module consists of a pre- and post-assessment, three classroom activities for your students, and a service learning day with CUSP.  The activities and supporting documents provided will cover information on the biology of invasive plants, their ecological impacts, and control methods.  

The online pre-assessment can be accessed here.  The access code is ESD9W.  Please give your students the access code and assign them a “first” and “last” name with which to enter to take the test.  Because the test results will be visible to CUSP, we suggest that you assign your students a unique number sequence for their “first” name and your school name and grade for their “last” name so that they remain anonymous to us yet identifiable to you. Example:  First name – 123, Last name – Arapahoe 9th.

Once your class has completed the service learning module, they need to take the post-assessment here.  The access code for it is E4SAF4, and they can use the same name as they used for the pre-assessment.  CUSP will send you the results of the assessments.

Teacher’s Master Guide is a detailed, step-by-step guide to follow as you complete this module.

Students will: (1) understand the significance of invasive plant species and population interactions in an ecosystem; (2) understand ways in which human actions affect ecosystems and the evolution of individual species; (3) Research and discuss methods for invasive plant species removal and begin to understand the many factors involved in making environmental decisions; (4) Participate in fieldwork to observe and mitigate effects of invasive plant species.
Objectives and Education Standards 

Teachers will be required to show proof of classroom work before going into the field.  The entire curriculum will take approximately 5 to 7 hours, plus a day of volunteering.

Pre-Assessment:                   20 minutes

Weed Invasion Activity:          1 to 2 hours

Ecological Impacts Activity:   2 class period or 2 hours

Control Activity:                      1 hour plus homework

Post Assessment:                 20 minutes
Estimated Time Required in .pdf format


Plant Invasion:
Magnifying glass (per student if possible), Variety packet of seeds, Plant Invasion worksheet (per student), Calculators, White board

Ecological Impacts:
Student Activity Instructions (per group), Invasive plant species or noxious weed lists for county or state (use provided links), Ecological Impacts Reading, Ecological Impacts Worksheet (per group), library or internet access, writing instrument (per group), poster board, colored pencils, or other supplies for visual aspect of presentations

Control: (all documents are per students*)
Management Think Sheet, Control Methods handout, Case Study Summary, Mechanical Case Study, Chemical Case Study, Biological Case Study, ‘Plant Invasion’ story (found in Plant Invasion Activity), Spotted Knapweed Study, Spotted Knapweed Management, Invasives and Economics article, Herbicide Resistance article, Mechanisms of Herbicide Resistance document
* Several of these documents can be used at the teacher’s discretion.
Supply List in .pdf format

Background Information

Plant Invasion
Ecological Impacts

Background Information
Plant Invasion Worksheet  
Ecological Impacts Worksheet
Ecological Impacts Student Instructions
Ecological Impacts Reading
Management Think Sheet
Control Methods Handout
Case Studies Summary
Mechanical Control
Chemical Control
Biological Control
Spotted Knapweed Study
Spotted Knapweed Management
Invasives and Economics Article
Herbicide Resistance Article
Mechanisms of Herbicide Resistance

Bailey, Nikki.  “Spotted Knapweed (Centaurea maculosa): A Study of the effects of a       biological control agent by students from Fort Benton High School, MT.”  Johnson, E. & Liebers, S.  February 2003.  Web.  March 2012.

Case Studies for Managing Invasive Plants.  U.S. Department of the Interior: Bureau of Land Management.

Early, David.  “A Bear Trap Rite of Spring.” U.S. Department of the Interior: Bureau of Land Management, Dillion Field Office.  March 2012.

Early Detection & Distribution Mapping System. The University of Georgia – Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health.  (Interactive map.)

Legner, E. Fred.  Klamath Weed (=St. John’s Wort) Hypericum perforatum L. – Hypericaceae.  University of California.

Penn State.  “Integrated weed management best response to herbicide resistance.”  ScienceDaily, 9 Feb. 2012.  Web.  March 2012.

“Piedras Blancas Light Stations Outstanding Natural Area Native Plant Restoration.”  U.S. Department of the Interior: Bureau of Land Management, Bakersfield Field Office.  March 2012.

Plants Database.  Natural Resources Conservation Service.  United States Department of Agriculture.

Species Management and Control Information: Spotted Knapweed Centaurea maculosa Larmarck or C. bierbersteinii DC.  DCNR Invasive Exotic Plant Tutorial for Natural Lands Managers.  March 2012.

State Resources.  National Invasive Species Information Center.  United States Department of Agriculture National Agricultural Library.

Tharayil-Santhakumar, Nishanth.  “Mechanisms of Herbicide Resistance in Weeds.”  Plant & Soil Sciences.  University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA 01003.

USDA/Agricultural Research Service.  “Eliminating weeds could put more cows on the pasture.”  ScienceDaily, 28 Apr. 2010.  Web.  March 2012.

C. E. Bell,  J. M. DiTomaso, C. A. Wilen.  “Invasive Plants.”  UC IPM Online.  11/07.  University of California Agriculture & Natural Resources.

Hall, M.  “Ecological Impact of Invasive Plants” Brown University.  Center for Environmental Studies.

Integrated Weed Management.  CSIRO.

Invasive Plants: Change in Fire Regime.  National Invasive Species Information Center.

Invasive Plants: Methods of Control.  National Invasive Species Information Center.

Simberloff, Daniel.  “Introduced Species: The Threat to Biodiversity & What Can be Done.”  American Institute of Biological Sciences.  2000.

“Under/Out of Control.”  Invasives: Plants on the Move.  March 2012.

United States.  Definitions Subcommittee of the Invasive Species Advisory Committee.  Invasive Species Definition Clarification and Guidance White Paper. Approved April 27, 2006.

United States. Federal Noxious Weed Act of 1974 (Summary).  January 3, 1975 as amended 1988 and 1994.

“Weed Invasion.”  Invasives: Plants on the Move.  March 2012.

What is Integrated Weed Management?  Minnesota Department of Agriculture.

Center for Invasive Plant Management.  2012.  Department of Land Resources of Environmental Sciences, Montana State University, Bozeman, MT.  March 2012.

Invasive Plants.  August 2008.  The United States National Arboretum.  March 2012.

Plants Database.  Natural Resources Conservation Service.  United States Department of Agriculture.

State Resources.  National Invasive Species Information Center.  United States Department of Agriculture National Agricultural Library.

Volunteers and Invasive Plants: Learning and Lending a Hand.  21 August 2008.  U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service National Wildlife Refuge System.

“Weeds Affect Millions of Acres of Public Lands.”  25 August 2011.  U.S. Department of the Interior: Bureau of Land Management.  March 2012.