Dakota County Environmental Resources

Water Resources - 4.01 - 10.31: Aquatic Invasive Species Detector (AIS)

General Description

As the threat of AIS (aquatic invasive species) continues to grow across Minnesota, there is a need for an organized statewide surveillance program that targets high-risk areas with trained observers. In partnership with University of Minnesota Extension, this program will train you to identify and report potential aquatic invasive species such as Starry stonewort and zebra mussels. Early detection is one of the most effective ways to help stop the invasion and spread of AIS.


Who can become an AIS Detector?

Motivated adults over the age of 18 can become AIS Detectors!


What is the time commitment?

Certification requires completion of approximately 16 hours of training, both online and in-person.  The online portion can be completed around your schedule anywhere you have access to the internet and the in-person portion consists of a single, full-day workshop. Once certified, Detectors must complete 25 hours of volunteer service and 8 hours of advanced or refresher training each year to maintain their certification.


What will I do as an AIS Detector?

As an AIS Detector, you will serve a critical role by helping identify new invasive species occurrences. Examples of activities you'll do include:

  • Responding to reports of new potential AIS which have been submitted to the DNR. By filtering out false positives, you will allow the DNR to more efficiently focus their efforts
  • Reporting incidental AIS observations. After taking the course, you will have the knowledge and skills to identify and report AIS that you may come across as you are out enjoying Minnesota’s water resources
  • Participating in new detection surveys. After additional training, you will be able to help search lakes for new AIS.
  • Assist with outreach or other AIS projects. You may be asked to participate in other outreach activities or AIS-related projects in coordination with the DNR, University of Minnesota Extension, and the Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center. Examples including helping out at MAISRC’s annual Research and Management Showcase, presenting at lake association meetings, or sharing AIS information with your community.


As a Detector, you will be required to use EddMapS to report findings. This can be done on the mobile app or the website. If you do not use a smart phone, you can take detailed notes on paper and enter the finding into the program from a computer with internet access (home, library, coffee shop, etc.).

What is the cost?

The program costs $195 but Dakota County has funds available to help offset the cost for Dakota County residents. To qualify for the reimbursement, we will need:

  • Have an active account within the Dakota County Volunteer Database
  • Payment Confirmation page from the U of M website
  • Certificate of completion from the online class - and -
  • Certificate of completion from the in-person class


Registration includes unlimited access to the online course, a printed training manual, the full-day in-person workshop (including refreshments and lunch), an AIS identification field guide and networking opportunities with other AIS Detectors and experts.


Contact Information

Garrett Zaffke | Community Relations and Volunteer Services Coordinator

Dakota County Communications

1590 Highway 55| Hastings, MN 55033

Direct: (651) 438-4635 | Fax: (651) 438-4405 Email: garrett.zaffke@co.dakota.mn.us


Qualifications Required

  • Accepted Data Privacy Notice - Tennessen Notice Must be Yes
  • Signed Volunteer Waiver Must be at least Yes

Schedule Summary

This activity occurs between Monday, April 01, 2019 and Thursday, October 31, 2019