Become A First Detector

First Detectors are volunteers who are on the front line of defense against high risk forest pest infestations. Vermont's Forest Pest First Detectors program prepares these volunteers to meet, work with and educate the public about exotic tree pests. The following volunteer position description provides an overview of the responsibilities of a Vermont First Detector.  The position description is also available as a PDF.

Basic Skills or Education Required

  • Able to identify common tree species.

  • Willing to be contacted by and work with the public.

  • Able to visit sites and collect pest samples, if necessary.

  • Have regular access to the internet and e-mail.

  • Report invasive pest related activities on a quarterly basis.

  • Willing to sign a volunteer agreement.


The Forest Pest First Detector program prepares volunteers by providing training on technical information about the most wanted tree pests and how to be an effective First Detector.

The training takes place both online and in a face-to-face meeting. The online training consists of 7 modules and is expected to take about 60 minutes to complete. We ask participants to complete the online training before the in-person training, which will last 7 hours.

First Detectors will be given a toolkit that includes a manual, hand lens, ruler, sample collection supplies, and mounts of ALB and EAB.

Below is a sample of the types of information a First Detector will receive:

  •     Pest biology
  •     The potential impact of the pests on Vermont's forests
  •     Screening for potential pests
  •     Sample collection
  •     Working with the media

Upcoming Trainings

September 12th, 2015, 9:30am-4:30pm

Manchester Elementary Middle School, Manchester, VT

For more information or to register, contact Gwen Kozlowski at or (802)-656-6646.

To request a disability-related accommodation to participate in this program, please contact Gwen at (802)-656-6646 or 800-571-0668 by August 21st, 2015 so we may assist you.


First Detectors will be required to sign up for at least one town. Some communities have two First Detectors.  The map below shows the distribution of First Detectors around the state.Time Commitment

First Detectors are expected to commit to a one year term, with an opportunity to continue. Participants are expected to respond to monthly requests for assistance from program coordinator, as well as requests from the public. 


  • Be on the front line of defense against forest pest infestations.

  • Keep up-to-date on forest pests threatening VT’s forest.

  • Prepare your community for an infestation- the earlier we detect an infestation, the better the outcome.

Interested In Becoming A First Detector?

Contact Gwen Kozlowski, University of Vermont Extension, or 802-656-6646 if you are interested or have questions about the program.