A playing card game based on Australia’s National Priority Plant Pests is being launched for the International Year of Plant Health 2020 to provide school students with an educational tool to learn about biosecurity threats to Australia’s natural environment and plant health.
Australia is lucky to be free from many of the world’s most damaging plant pests. It is estimated that 40% of food crops are lost worldwide due to plant pests annually.
The National Priority Plant Pests have been identified as Australia’s most important pest threats capable of damaging our natural environment, destroying our food production, agriculture industries and to a certain extend our way of life.
The special cards have been developed by Assistant Director, Carol Quashie-Williams, an agricultural and environmental scientist and entomologist with the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment. Carol aims to promote and raise public awareness for the International Year of Plant Health ‘Protecting plants, protecting life’ among school students with the cards.
With the department’s support, she has volunteered in the STEM Professionals in Schools program for more than 15 years and recently won Volunteer of the Year at the ACT Excellence in Education awards 2019.
The cards include information researched by students from Farrer and Mawson Primary Schools as part of a STEM Professionals in Schools project.
The information may be used to play a Top Trumps style game as each card includes the following information: National Priority Plant Pests ratings – with bacterial pathogen Xylella being considered the most important at No. 1; the number of countries where each pest is known to occur; and the number of hosts a pest can infect, infest, or feed on.
An increased awareness of the most important biosecurity pest threats can help us and future plant health heroes in our schools protect Australia. Essentially, the project will equip students with a few tricks up their sleeves to identify pest threats and protect plants.