Sixth grade students in Rowann Hoy’s science class at Polk County Middle School got up close and personal with invasive species growing on the school campus as Max Howes, Conserving Carolina’s AmeriCorp’s Project Conserve Habitat Restoration and Volunteer Coordinator, provided two lessons on identification and eradication of these plants.

On the first day, Howes taught students key differences between native, non-native and non-native invasive species. The students were shown pictures of non-native invasive species that are currently found on the cross country trail right behind the school and then taken out on the trail on a scavenger hunt to see if they could find the actual plants.

Students were amazed at the amount of kudzu growing behind the school and at how the leaflets of the Tree of Heaven smell like peanut butter.

On the second day, the students learned what is being done by the community to control and eradicate these plants. One student said that she was talking to her sister, who attends Polk County Early College, about what she learned from the hike the first day, and her sister said that she is also learning about invasive plants. Another student asked how he could join the volunteer group to become a “Kudzu Warrior” himself!