Since 2021, FOCA and the Invasive Species Centre (ISC) have partnered in a community science program called IsampleON (Invasive Species Awareness and Monitoring Program for Lakes Education Ontario), with funding from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry.

Action is needed to protect inland lakes that are free from or at high risk of aquatic invasion.

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May 2023 – FOCA is very pleased to announce that the Invasive Species Awareness and Monitoring Program for Lakes Education Ontario (IsampleON) is continuing in 2023. 

FOCA has selected 2023 volunteers on additional lakes this year to help collect water samples from selected waterbodies. Utilizing the latest in eDNA detection technology, FOCA will be working with select lake associations through the summer of 2023 to broaden our collective understanding of the spread of harmful invasive species. Target species this year include European water chestnut (Trapa natans), and Water soldier (Stratiotes aloides).

The region of greatest concern for spread, and the monitoring target for 2023, is broadly the eastern and central portions of Ecoregion 5E (roughly Ottawa through Parry Sound-Muskoka; click on the map at the side to enlarge).

APPLICATIONS WERE ACCEPTED UNTIL JUNE 12, 2023. Selected Associations were contacted by email in mid-June, and our volunteer samplers from more than 70 lakes across the province have been selected for sampling to take place in later August.

Learn more about the program and the invaders! Share news about preventing the spread of invasive species in your association newsletter or e-news, and on social media channels.

July 2023 – share one of the following draft social media posts with your fellow members:


  • right click an image below and choose “Save Image As” to save it to your computer so you can upload it to social media along with your post.
  • copy and paste the words, or use similar words of your own choosing about the program, invasive species prevention, and your sampling.
  • after posting on Facebook, please “Tag” FOCA in your image so we’ll see your post.
  • if posting on Twitter (X), please include our handle @foca_info at the end of the message, so we’ll see your tweet.

Find it. Report it. Monitor it. Prevent the Spread. This August, our Association is taking part in the IsampleON program to promote invasive species awareness, and monitor our waterways in Ontario! Learn more about the program from FOCA, here:

How can you help prevent the spread of invasive species in cottage country? Some general best practices are to garden using only non-invasive plants, dispose of bait properly, buy firewood locally, and inspect and clean your boat & motor when changing water bodies (it’s the law!).

Learn more about the IsampleON program to promote invasive species awareness, and monitor our waterways in Ontario! FOCA posts information and handy links here:

Today I sampled Lake __[your lake name]___ for invasive species as part of the IsampleON program! Learn more about your role in preventing the spread of invasive species, how to identify invaders and what to do if you find them in Ontario’s waterways. The IsampleON program promotes invasive species awareness, and water monitoring by volunteer community scientist like me. FOCA posts information and handy links here:

SAMPLERS: use your own photo with this post! Get a friend or sampling buddy to take a picture of you while you’re on the lake sampling. If you’re in a boat, please wear your PFD so FOCA can share your picture on our social channels too! On Facebook Tag FOCA after you make your post. On Twitter (X) add us @foca_info to your post, so we’ll be prompted to share it!

June 2023 – The first program commitment is to watch the 1 hour webinar about this year’s sampling target species and protocols.

SAMPLERS: Please review the 1 hour program overview video at the side (click to enlarge and unmute the video). This includes information about the species being sampled for, eDNA, sampling protocol and more.

Thanks for being part of this volunteer citizen science effort!

The IsampleON program (Invasive Species Awareness Monitoring Program & Lake Education in Ontario) which FOCA launched in 2021 with colleagues at the Invasive Species Centre (ISC), continued in 2022 with targeted outreach, education, and sampling for invasive mussels and spiny water flea in lakes on the Canadian Shield. Thank you to the 58 volunteers who collected water samples and eDNA samples for lab analysis at ISC, and who shared educational information about local invasive species prevention throughout 2022. We know early detection is essential to protect our lakes and rivers from the negative impacts of aquatic invaders on these key ecosystems.

From the 2022 program: 

FOCA webinar: Zebra Mussels in Ontario & IsampleON training Q&A (June 2022). Watch the recording of this overview with FOCA and Renata Claudi, M.Sc. about one of the 2022 target species: Zebra Mussels – the history in Ontario, where and how they are spreading, and how they impact our waterways. (Online, 1 hour)

Related resources:

Environmental impacts of zebra and quagga mussels are serious. Invasive mussels filter plankton out of the water, depleting food sources for native species. Large colonies can take over fish spawning areas and beaches. Zebra and quagga mussels can reduce native mussels and increase the presence of aquatic weeds and toxic algal blooms, which can have health impacts on people, pets and native wildlife.

Please note: the following is archival material, and some links to third-party resources may no longer be active.

One 2021 program volunteer in the Township of North Kawartha got their Mayor to participate in hanging the “Help Protect our Lakes” sign at the local boat launch, to remind boaters to “Clean & Drain & Dry” to prevent spreading invasive species! 

Earlier Media Coverage:

For more about FOCA’s work on invasive species, visit our webpage: