Sustain Our Nation's Forests and Grasslands

Tucker the Turtle returns, educates about non-native invasive species

Tucker the Turtle teaching kids about the dangers of invasives.

WEST VIRGINIAMonongahela National Forest and the Potomac Highlands Cooperative Weed and Pest Management Association partnered with PlayCleanGo to develop educational resources about non-native invasive species geared at 5th and 6th grade students and beyond.

One happy result, is the return of Tucker the Turtle. A new field guide featuring Tucker, covering 24 non-native invasive species, can be downloaded for free from PlayCleanGo. A free activity book will be available soon as well. Tucker was created in partnership with the CWPMA to help spread the word that taking action to prevent and control non-native invasive species is crucial for people of all ages. It began with a children’s book – “The Pests that Girdle the Home of Tucker the Turtle,” which was recently updated and is available for purchase.

Non-native invasive species like garlic mustard, zebra mussel, emerald ash borer and tree of heaven can have devastating impacts on native plant communities, fish and wildlife habitats and populations, recreational opportunities, and ultimately local economies. In the United States alone, costs and losses due to these species adds up to over $138 billion per year. These species are a huge threat to our forests, farms, rivers, streams, lakes, and ponds. 

That is why it is crucial to get everyone, especially kids interested in learning more. That is what makes the Tucker the Turtle resources so special. They are written in plain language which appeals to kids and adults alike. In fact, many adults pick up the Tucker field guide and use it before they pick up ones we created specifically for adults. It also helps that the illustrations, created by a local artist in West Virginia, are vibrant, interesting and fun!

The goal is to engage as many people as possible in the fight against non-native invasive species. We need a lot of trained eyes on the ground to find infestations quickly in order to manage them. Partnering with PlayCleanGo will help spread the word even further.

In celebration of the release of these new materials, Tucker is trying to travel around the 50 states before his first book signing in October. To participate, go Tucker's webpage, download his picture, take him somewhere amazing and grab a quick pic. Then share it with us through Tucker’s personal email account at

Tucker inspired 5th graders at Petersburg Elementary School to take action and pull garlic mustard in West Virginia’s Monongahela National Forest. Forest Service photo.