Irene Riegner’s certification project involved educating her community about the invasive Spotted Lanternfly during the Sustainable Highland Park Earth Day event. Irene conducted a survey to gauge community awareness of this invasive species and its potential impact. She developed a display of the SLF life cycle and its effect on certain tree and plant species. Her presentation focused on taking action and provided homeowners with management strategies.
Irene also partnered with the Highland Park High School Environmental Science Teacher, James Mokracek, and his environmental science class. His students, who had recently studied SLFs, constructed circle traps to capture newly hatched SLFs. These traps have been placed around the school campus. They were happy to make and provide a demonstration trap for Irene’s display at the Sustainable Highland Park fair. Attendees were able to observe firsthand how these traps are built and used. A few of members of the school’s environmental club volunteered at Irene’s table to field questions at the busy event. By involving local students, Irene not only encouraged their participation but also fostered a sense of ownership and responsibility for environmental conservation. Managing SLF requires collective action and we applaud her outreach efforts.