2018 Partner Survey Results

This spring, campaign administrators sent out a partner survey for two purposes. One was to gain a better understanding of the motivations and needs of our partners. The other was to gain some understanding of how folks are using PlayCleanGo (PCG) materials and what accomplishments we can share with potential funding sources. Of a total of 521 partner organizations, we had 468 current emails to which we sent our partner survey. Of those 112, responded and 92 completed the survey.  

By far the majority (79%) of our respondents signed up to enhance local outreach efforts. An even greatly majority (94%) are putting PCG materials to use. Of the PCG products they most appreciate, the brand signature, graphic materials, hand held boot brushes, Dropbox library and welcome kits scored the highest among all brand assets (of 11 items mentioned). Of those assets they least appreciate, 57% replied "None", and 15% listed the Dropbox library. We know some of our federal partners are not able to access Dropbox for internal security reasons. So we’re looking at other options. Others (8% or less) mentioned difficulty finding the order form, purchasing boot brush kiosks, and our ball caps and tee-shirts as among their least favorite items.

Primary reason for becoming PCG partner pie chart

Of those partners responding, 71% have modified existing PCG materials to fit local needs, with adding logos or swapping photos being the two most common modifications made. 58% have created their own PCG materials, with brochures and posters being the most common. That suggests the majority of those responding are comfortable manipulated and integrating PCG materials into their local outreach efforts.

The three greatest challenges facing our partners trying to engage outdoor recreationists are 1) perceived barriers to cleaning, 2) limited staff time available for outreach and 3) a general lack of awareness around the issue and the role of recreationists in spreading invasive species. Specific perceived barriers mentioned, were not seeing cleaning as a priority, not believing they can make a difference, not sure what to do, or simply not caring.

Challenge to engaging recreationists bar chart

The lack of staff time (both those implementing and those receiving outreach) and perceived barriers to cleaning are by far the greatest challenges in engaging field workers. A lack of buy-in by field workers was also listed among the obstacles managers face trying to engage outdoor enthusiasts – “the agencies aren’t doing it so why should I” is a too common reaction.

Challenge engaging worker bar chart

We want to acknowledge the accomplishments of the responding partners in spite of the obstacles listed above. Just think of the hundreds of thousands of folks who have heard or seen PCG prevention messaging in the short time since the campaign was launched. That benefits all of those active in the PCG campaign by building brand recognition and advancing a new social norm of personal accountability.

  • Installed 649+ boot brush kiosks
  • Hosted 391+ local events
  • Staffed 181+ booths at large trade shows or fairs
  • Gave 534+ presentations
  • Published 286+ articles or blogs
  • Reaching around 340K+ subscribers

Responding partners shared a lots of ideas on things PCG administrators could do to support local outreach. Some of the ideas include:

  • Create more WorkCleanGo materials for various audiences
  • Create plant ID materials
  • Create region-specific messaging and materials
  • Create materials for developed areas/urban landscapes
  • Provide grants, grant info or partner discounts to ease fiscal constraints
  • Create an events page on the website with a mechanism to sign-up volunteers

As the campaign moves forward, the PCG Steering Committee and staff will be using these and other results to guide future decisions on new products and services, and the best delivery methods. So we greatly appreciate your input.Thanks to all of those who responded to our survey.

If you would like to see all of the survey results, please send your request to

PlayCleanGo Graphic “Myths”

In our recent partner survey, we received several comments indicating some of you are not confident or not able to use PlayCleanGo (PCG) graphic materials. Hopefully, this will clarify a few things and ease some concerns. 

Myth: Using PCG graphics is risky

Because the primary strategy of PCG is a broad reach (i.e. across North America) with consistent messaging (across ownerships and management), it does not make sense to limit its use. We want folks to use it as much as possible, which is why we are giving it away. Our commitment is to work with our partner organizations to show them how to effectively use and adapt our materials to address local needs. We have no interest in penalizing our partners for using our materials “incorrectly” and instead want to work with our partners toward shared goals.

That being said, it is important to maintain brand integrity in order to accomplish the goal of changing at-risk public behaviors. If the brand logo is used inappropriately, we will fail to create that visual trigger needed to remind folks to clean their gear.

However, “brand integrity” is specific to how the brand signature is displayed. While we encourage folks to use our other graphic materials to expand our reach, the taglines, photos, action steps and formatting are all strong suggestions, not hard and fast rules. They are meant to provide a foundation on which you can build your own campaign. Most partner organizations have their own identity, so the extent to which they can use PCG materials varies. If the best you can do is add the PCG logo to your website as a resource hyperlink, or to the back of your publication as an endorsement, so be it. If have you the resources and the flexibility to utilize all of our brand assets, fabulous!!

Myth: You have to have your own graphic artist to use PCG graphics

You can order our pre-printed supplies and use them as is, or you can download the existing files and modify them before printing your own. Most printers can handle .pdf files and many can make minor changes for you, such as dropping in your logo. We also offer basic graphic services to modify any of the existing materials to meet your needs. That can include adding a logo, swapping photos, or tweaking PCG headlines or action steps to reach out to specific audiences. Try it, you’ll like it.

Myth: You can’t access the PlayCleanGo Graphic Library

Currently you have to have a Dropbox account (free for 2GB) to access our full graphic library. However, some organizations do not allow their employees to use Dropbox for security reasons. If you have run into that issue, let us know. We have created a folder for USFS employees on CloudVault and have loaded some of our graphics there. If you let us know what you want, we can load more. We can also zip up some files and send them to you directly. Again, our commitment is to work with our partners toward shared goals. If you need assistance accessing our files, please send your request to

Myth: You have to buy PlayCleanGo trail signs from us

Being in the business of outreach and not manufacturing, we do not sell the 18x24” trail signs. We instead give the graphics away so you can have your own made locally. This gives you the opportunity to switch the invasive plants included to raise awareness of those in your particular area. It also gives you the opportunity to design your own stand. They can be all metal, all wood or a combination as best suits your budget. We have partners who have used volunteers and donated materials to build their own stands. We also have partners who have built portable stands so they can use them for field trips and events. We have photos of different styles and structural drawings in Dropbox to help you decide what you want and how you might construct them. If you need something else, please let us know.

Again, our best hope of success is to expand the reach of PCG materials across North America and across ownership boundaries. The more often folks see the PCG logo in different settings, the more likely they are to associate the PCG logo with the reminder to Come Clean, Leave Clean!!

Partner News

Transitioning National PCG Campaign Management to NAISMA

By: Belle Bergner, NAISMA Executive Director; Intro by Susan Burks, MNDNR

In May 2017, PlayCleanGo (PCG) and the North American Invasive Species Management Association (NAISMA) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to begin the process of transferring management of the U.S. campaign from the Minnesota DNR (MNDNR) to NAISMA. This happened about the same time, the Canadian Council on Invasive Species (CCIS) began work on a parallel campaign to serve as the Canadian campaign. Both efforts should be wrapped up by early next spring.

The NAISMA MOU has four phases in the transfer process and we are currently in phase two. Phase two consists mainly of setting up the infrastructure needed to begin to manage PCG partner services, including graphic requests and orders for PCG materials. Belle Bergner, NAISMA Executive Director, has been hard at work putting the pieces in place and has taken on management of some processes. One you’ll notice is that the fall newsletter will be delivered through MailChimp rather than GovDelivery.

Building the capacity to grow and sustain the PlayCleanGo campaign has been a primary focus over recent months. Read on to meet NAISMA’s new hire, view new Contributor opportunities, an invitation to participate in the PlayCleanGo Summit at the UMISC – NAISMA Joint Conference this October 15-18, 2018, a USDA – Forest Service MOU with NAISMA that includes PlayCleanGo, and an invitation to Partners in Eastern US States to participate in the development of new outreach materials catered to Eastern US invasive species awareness needs.

Hannah Bowers, NAISMA Communications and Program Manager, joined the team in early July. Hannah lives in the Florida panhandle and comes to us with great communications, outreach, and nonprofit program management skills. Hannah will be dedicating 50% of her time to the PlayCleanGo campaign, particularly on the USDA APHIS Farm Bill – funded outreach work and partner communications. Welcome Hannah!

Contributor guide A lot of work and thoughtful creativity from staff and the Steering Committee was put in to developing a new Contributor Prospectus. Expanded benefits provide companies and organizations more opportunities to support and partner with the PlayCleanGo campaign. Download and share it with businesses you think should support the campaign.

Do you have a great boot brush station or other PlayCleanGo outreach material you want to show off? We want to see it! The PlayCleanGo Summit on October 17, 2018, the third day of the UMISC – NAISMA Joint Conference in Rochester, Minnesota will end with a PlayCleanGo Partner and Vendor Showcase. Contact Hannah Bowers to reserve a FREE spot today. Conference registration is required.

NAISMA has a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the USDA – Forest Service that supports the Forest Service adopting the PlayCleanGo campaign. This will open the door for PlayCleanGo brand placement at thousands of trail heads, education centers, and other Forest Service outreach opportunities. If you work for a Forest Service Region or partner with one, we look forward to working together with you!

Are you an Eastern US State partner (anywhere East of the Mississippi)? Contact Hannah Bowers to sign up to serve on an Eastern US Advisory Committee to provide your input into new outreach materials with imagery and invasive species messaging that will be most useful for you.

Volunteers – the Answer to Spreading the Word

By: Kathleen Preece, Exec Dir MN Forest Resources Partnership

Question: What do a retired physician, farmers from Iowa, and teachers who have traveled through Bolivia, Greece, Indonesia, and Pakistan have in common? 

Answer: PlayCleanGo and the North Country Trail.

VolunteersThis seemingly disparate group of people gathered early one morning in June, deep in the woods of north central Minnesota’s Hubbard County. Equipped with hammers and drills, bags of cement, shovels, and a bag of sweet rolls, they prepared the ground and installed a PlayCleanGo kiosk. The kiosk shares information about invasive species and provides a boot brush for hikers to clean off their footgear before and after hiking.

The common denominator among this group of volunteers is their love of the outdoors and a commitment to educating trail users about the simple things they can do to prevent the spread of terrestrial invasive species along the North Country Trail (NCT).

The NCT is the longest hiking trail in the United States. The 4,600 miles of trail extend from Lake Champlain on the Vermont-New York border to the Missouri River in central North Dakota. In the process, the trail connects New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and North Dakota.

The passion of these volunteers for the vitality of the NCT spills logically onto the mission of PlayCleanGo to stop invasive species “in their tracks!” In fact, the North Country Trail Association (NCTA) is an official partner with PlayCleanGo.

That partnership has special meaning for this gathering. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MNDNR), which provided materials for ten kiosks along the NCT, shares the NCT’s mission to preserve our natural resources, educate citizens and visitors, and provide opportunities for enthusiasts to get outdoors.

According to Matt Davis, NCTA’s regional coordinator for Minnesota and North Dakota: “These volunteers build trails with the same attention to detail as they do their own personal projects.” Matt explains that all ten kiosks will be installed on state forest lands by NCT volunteers.

Volunteers Who are these early morning volunteers? Carter Hedeen, who has been dubbed the “founding father of the NCT” in the Hubbard County area, spearheaded an effort to develop an additional loop off of, and back to the NCT around the pristine Waboose Lake where the team was setting up the boot brush kiosk.

The Hedeens believe in volunteering, starting with Carter’s wife, Florence Hedeen’s two-year stint in the Dominican Republic with the Peace Corp in the 1960s. Now, in their retirement years, the Hedeens’ passion is the NCT. Of particular interest is the 45-mile segment if the NCT from the Cass/Morrison County line west to Itasca State Park. 

Volunteers Jerry and Melinda Carter would seem to be far from the fields of their Iowa farm. But since retiring to live in Minnesota’s woodlands, the Carters have found new fruits of their labors in the fields: the satisfaction of caring for the NCT.

Bruce Johnson is not only a volunteer, he is a disciple preaching the gospel of keeping invasive species from spreading, and caring for the trails of Minnesota. “There are some gifts that only nature can provide,” Bruce testifies.

Member of the Moraine Chapter of the NCTA, Chair Haugland is no stranger to the woodlands of the area. He grew up in Park Rapids and returned to the area three years ago after serving as a park ranger for the National Park Service for 33 years.

As Matt says, thanks to PlayCleanGo and the MNDNR.  And a special thanks to our fabulous volunteers.

New Products

Children’s’ PlayCleanGo Material: Tucker the Turtle

Tucker the TurtlePlayCleanGo (PCG) is pleased to announce two new publications available to all PCG partners working with children, with a third to be released shortly. These include the story book The Pests that Girdle the Home of Tucker the Turtle and the children’s’ field guide Fighting Invasive Pests: Tucker the Turtle’s FIELD GUIDE. The third piece is a children’s coloring and activity book to be completed soon.   

The US Forest Service and Potomac Highlands Cooperative Weed and Pest Management Association CWPMA) produced the original books focusing on eastern invasive species. The books, now co-branded with PlayCleanGo, include 9 new species important to western audiences.

The story book The Pests that Girdle the Home of Tucker the Turtle can be purchased online for $10.50 each. The proceeds go to support Potomac Highlights CWPMA activities. The Field Guide has been posted in the Dropbox graphic library in the folder “Childrens Matls” available to partners only. The Field Guide is also available for purchase through the PCG order form.

Tucker the TurtleCheck out the illustrations, they are beautiful! They are based on original watercolor paintings done by Molly Swailes. All of the paintings will be framed and eight of the nine new species paintings will be auctioned off at the annual PlayCleanGo Summit. All proceeds will go toward national PCG campaign management. Be sure to attend the “Meet the Artist” session to talk to Molly and view the paintings.

Use all three Tucker the Turtle publications to help kids understand how invasive species threaten the places where we live, and the natural resources that support us all.

Bonus! Let kids cut out Tucker and take him on the road on their next outdoor adventure. Have them take their picture with him and send it to Tucker at, perhaps adding a new state or country to the places Tucker has visited. To see the map of places he’s visited and check out his photos, visit Tucker's Travels (map on the bottom of the page).

Rep. Spotlight

Katie GrzesiakKatie Grzesiak, Coordinator of the Northwest Michigan Invasive Species Network (ISN), graduated from Northern Michigan University with a Bachelor of Arts in Ecology. She continued her education with a Master of Science from the University of Michigan’s School of Natural Resources and Environment (now the School of Environment and Sustainability), focusing her Master’s thesis on the a long-term study on the effects of herbicides native and invasive plant communities while leading the Exotic Plant Management Team at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Katie has been with ISN since 2013, has been the Coordinator since 2014, and has enjoyed applying her enthusiasm and teaching experience to outreach and education efforts as well as overseeing efforts in the field.  In concert with her work at ISN, Grzesiak currently helps wider invasive species efforts shine through serving on the Michigan Invasive Species Coalition Core Team and the tri-national steering committee for the PlayCleanGo® campaign.


Share your Stories!

Do you have a great invasive species curriculum, lesson plan or fun educational game you play while teaching about invasive species or PCG event you’d like to tell us about? If so, we’d like to hear about it and share it our quarterly PCG newsletter! Please send your article (don’t forget to include photos) to Shantell ( so that they can be featured in the June 2018 edition of the PlayCleanGo Newsletter.

From the Advisory Council

The PlayCleanGo Steering Committee recently changed their name to the PlayCleanGo Advisory Council to reflect their role in guiding the national campaign. They also added a new member, Michael Katz of Earth River Stand-Up Paddle Boards, to represent non-motorized water sport enthusiasts.  Welcome Michael!!

Active Partners Needed

The Advisory Council is looking to fill two other positions. These include one to represent motorized water sport enthusiasts and one to represent non-motorized land-based sport enthusiasts, such as hiking or biking. The only pre-requisite is that you and your organization be active PlayCleanGo partners. If you are interested in either position, please fill out the PCG Nomination form and send it to


Register Now! PlayCleanGo Summit: October 17, 2018 in Rochester, MN

By: Belle Bergner, Executive Director, NAISMA

Register Now! PlayCleanGo Summit: October 17, 2018 in Rochester, MN

Join fellow PlayCleanGo partners at the Second Annual PlayCleanGo Summit on October 17, 2018 at the Mayo Civic Center in Rochester, MN. This event will be part of the 2018 Upper Midwest Invasive Species Conference (UMISC)/annual North American Invasive Species Management Association (NAISMA) joint conference from October 15-18, 2018. Expected attendance is over 700 people, plus 50 exhibitors including major corporations, local nonprofits, federal and state agencies, and more.

The Summit will facilitate networking among PlayCleanGo partners from across North America; provide sessions on how to customize PlayCleanGo materials to your local needs including co-branding; showcase tools and resources that partners are using to display and market the brand; and will inspire you to find ways to get the message to new audiences. Contact Belleif you are interested in participating as a speaker or exhibitor at the Summit.

Discount room blocks are available and registration will open by early May.

Play Clean Go