Who are First Detectors?

This growing team of individuals, equipped to notice and report pests and pathogens, includes over 17,000 people across the country. Most First Detectors are in positions to notice unusual outbreaks or pest symptoms through roles as cooperative extension county educators, crop consultants, pesticide applicators, growers, master gardeners, master naturalists, industry representatives, NRCS conservationists, and other agricultural professionals. By completing NPDN First Detector training either online or through in-person events, they have honed their pest detection skills. 


Why be a First Detector?

Our agricultural and ornamental industries, crop biosecurity, and natural ecosystems can be threatened by invasive pests and diseases that affect plants. To protect our ecosystems, economy, and personal wellbeing, we need as many people as possible monitoring for these significant pests and diseases.

Becoming a First Detector

You can become a First Detector by attending an in-person workshop or by completing a series of online e-learning courses. By the time you have finished either of these training options, you will:

  • Be prepared to submit diagnostic samples to your local plant diagnostic clinics and understand the diagnostic process
  • Be familiar with some national and/or local pests of concern and able to monitor for them
  • Obtain a certificate of completion and CEUs
  • Receive local and/or regional updates from NPDN state and regional coordinators as information is available.




Training Opportunities

First Detectors learn about local, regional and national target pests so they know what to look for in their communities and are equipped to report occurrences or submit samples to their local diagnostic lab for confirmation. Training courses, available in person or easily accessible through the learning modules on this website, will teach you to:

  1. identify the symptoms of specific pest outbreaks and
  2. report them or submit samples to your local diagnostician lab for identity confirmation.


Take Online



A Workshop.