Fact Sheet: Classroom Plants and Animals
Great Lakes Coastal Youth Education - News

(STONE SOUP © 2013 Jan Eliot. Used courtesy of the creator and Universal Uclick. All rights reserved.) / Courtesy of Oregon Sea Grant

Buffalo, NY, June 24, 2016 - Teachers who use living plants and animals in their classrooms praise the many benefits of these organisms - from encouraging scientific observation to teaching student responsibility.

Unfortunately, at the end of each school year, animals are often released into the wild by teachers who have no idea they can be introducing invasive species that can harm the environment and impact populations of local native plants and animals.

The benefits of classroom plants and animals are explored in a two-page fact sheet from New York Sea Grant (first released in June 2015) (pdf), though so is the potential for them to be released back into the environment, thereby making them a potential invasive species.

"Although useful as teaching tools, living plants and animals that are no longer wanted, have outgrown their tanks or enclosures, or become a burden to care for, can become invasive species if released into the wild," says NYSG Coastal Education Specialist Helen Domske, author of the publication.

Detailed in the fact sheet are the proper steps that teachers should carry out to prevent classroom animals or plants from becoming invaders to the natural environment. Also offered are suggestions for classroom critters that are both appropriate and ones to avoid.

More Info: New York Sea Grant

New York Sea Grant (NYSG), a cooperative program of Cornell University and the State University of New York, is one of 33 university-based programs under the National Sea Grant College Program (NSGCP) of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The NSGCP engages this network of the nation’s top universities in conducting scientific research, education, training and extension projects designed to foster science-based decisions about the use and conservation of our aquatic resources. Through its statewide network of integrated services, NYSG has been promoting coastal vitality, environmental sustainability, and citizen awareness about the State’s marine and Great Lakes resources since 1971.

New York Sea Grant maintains Great Lakes offices at SUNY Buffalo, the Wayne County Cooperative Extension office in Newark and at SUNY Oswego. In the State's marine waters, NYSG has offices at Stony Brook University and Stony Brook Manhattan, in the Hudson Valley through Cooperative Extension in Kingston and at Brooklyn College. 

For updates on Sea Grant activities: www.nyseagrant.org has RSS, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube links. NYSG also offers a free e-list sign up via www.nyseagrant.org/coastlines for its flagship publication, NY Coastlines/Currents, which is published several times a year.

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