Officials hope new initiative will help communities with Asian Longhorned Beetle

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August 1, 2013, 6:03 pm
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(NECN: Mike Cronin) - It was a unique opportunity for those affected by the Asian Longhorned Beetle to gather under one roof at Clark University.

“There are certainly times ALB policy makers are all in the room together where we're not there,” says Deborah Martin, who co-leads of a group of 12 students who are part of the hero research program.

Sponsored by the National Science Foundation, the hero program is a three-year program which looks at impacts of the beetle and eradication efforts.

“It's what's called youth inspired research, trying to really be able to be part of and contribute to the local community,” she says.

Thursday, students presented research they did over eight weeks this summer to policy makers and residents. Since the beetle was discovered five years ago, they found areas with tree loss have experienced a temperature increase of about one to three degrees Celsius.

Junior Sean Cunningham says that's significant when compared to climate change.

“Global climate are predicted to have a 3-degree Celsius increase in 100 years... This is something that's happened in a span of 3-5 years,” he says.

Students also interviewed policy makers and talked to Worcester and Shrewsbury residents about their concerns.

“A lot of people noticed less shade, so more heating cost, maybe change in environments like birds... And now they're starting to see other animals for example,” says junior Michino Hisabayashi.

“It's very encouraging for me to see the students, the involvement, the engagement,” says Clint McFarland with the USDA.

He says they're cutting fewer trees and finding less infestation. But he says it's always important to get feedback and interact with leaders and residents in the community.

“We know themes, we know ideas as the program, but it's never a bad idea to reach out and just continue to hear so we can address these issues that do arise.”

Tags: Asian Longhorned Beetle , Clark University, USDA, National Science Foundation, deborah martin, mike cronin, Clint McFarland, hero research program, sean Cunningham, eradication efforts, michino hisabayashi
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