Volunteers are important! They help create new knowledge needed to protect environments from the harms of invasive plants.

Ready to get started? Click here to access the self-paced training.

Want to find out more before signing up? Volunteer roles and activities are described below.


Pesky Plant Volunteer

Pesky Plant Trackers badge, plants and text

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Time & location

Time commitment: 4-6 hours upfront then 5-30 minutes per week

Location: Volunteering works best for people who have wild parsnip or Japanese knotweed growing nearby. Because you will observe an individual plant once a week, ideally from ~March through ~October, think of locations that are convenient.

Not sure if you can locate a plant to observe in your area? Contact Pesky Plants staff at [email protected] to discuss options.

Is it right for me?

Do you like being outdoors and making careful observations of plants' leaves, flowers, and fruits? Do you enjoy learning about how plants respond to the environment? Would you like to contribute to the science of weed management by collecting important citizen science data?

Volunteer activities: Observe a single or small group of plants (wild parsnip or Japanese knotweed) at least once a week. Record changes such as flowers appearing and fruits ripening. See below for details and links to get started.

Volunteers do not remove plants. Instead, we generate new knowledge needed by specialists who do remove plants.

I'm ready! How do I begin?

  1. COMPLETE THE TRAINING. Click for details and access
  2. LOCATE wild parsnip and/or Japanese knotweed. This step is explained in the training.
  3. JOIN Nature's Notebook. This step is explained in the training.
    • When: after locating a plant (or plants) to observe
    • Time commitment: about 20 minutes
  4. TRACK plants & SHARE what you observe. This step is explained in the training.
    • When: ideally once a week (or as often as is convenient)
    • Season: March through August for wild parsnip; March through October for Japanese knotweed
    • Time commitment: ~20 minutes per week
    • How: Use Nature's Notebook mobile app, website, or paper datasheets
    • Note: Protective clothing is required when working around wild parsnip (click for safety information)
    • Optional: attend Pesky Plants events such as Tea Tuesdays for guidance from staff and participants


Other than becoming a Pesky Plant Volunteer, how else can I participate?

New in 2021, two additional volunteer roles are being planned. Field Site Volunteers and Incidental Observers. Details below.

Accessibility and inclusion: If activities on this page are not a fit for you, please reach out to staff ([email protected]) to discuss other ways to participate. We are more than happy to be creative and think about what being a citizen scientist means for you! Thanks in advance for your interest in this project.

Field Site Volunteer

Volunteer at a Field Experiment Site

Above: Field site (Sand Plains Research Farm) near Becker, Minnesota

Field Site Volunteers work closely with scientists to collect data at University-operated research facilities. This position entails 1-4 hours per week. Contact Abbie ([email protected]) with questions or to apply. Details below.

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Locations & time commitments

Location: Currently seeking volunteers near Waseca or Becker/Monticello. Positions are filled for Cloquet and Grand Rapids.

Time commitment: 1-4 hours per week

Season: Season lasts through October.

Background: Master Gardeners and Master Naturalists are encouraged to apply.

Is it right for me?

This high level of service is recommended for people who enjoy being outdoors, observing plants, and working closely with scientists. Volunteers contribute significantly to the science of invasive plant management. Volunteers spend up to 4 hours per week doing outdoor activities (i.e., observing plants) in variable weather. Weekly time commitment can be shortened by forming a team of 2 or 3 volunteers. This opportunity is recommended for people who live in or near Waseca, Becker, or Monticello, Minnesota.

Please see full descriptions for this high-level volunteer position:

I'm ready. How do I begin?

Contact Abbie ([email protected]) to apply. In your message, indicate which field site is convenient for you.

Incidental Observer

Using the iNaturalist app to upload a photograph

Being an Incidental Observer requires less time than being a general volunteer. Details below.

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Time & location

Time commitment: 5 minutes, minimum one-time activity, no training required.

Locations: Visit a marked plant. (A map of marked plants is being developed. Check back later.)

Is it right for me?

A map of marked plants is being developed.

Being an Incidental Observer is right for you if you encounter a marked plant and can upload 2 or 3 photographs of the plant to iNaturalist. This can be a one-time activity, or you may repeat it as often as you like. (For example, if your neighborhood park has a marked plant, take a photo every time you visit. Or, challenge yourself to find marked plants at multiple locations.)

Before participating in this way, join iNaturalist (5 minutes) and learn how to upload an observation (5 minutes). This option requires no training.

I'm ready! How do I begin?

This opportunity is under development. Please check back for a map of marked plant locations.