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Plant health hero activity book (Age 9-12)

For parents & educators

The intent of this activity book is to teach young learners about the basics of plant health in Canada and how they can participate in protecting our amazing natural plant resources.

In this book, children will learn:

  1. the importance and impact of plant health within their own community, and Canada as a whole
  2. certain dangers to plant health, like invasive species and
  3. how they can help to protect plant life

You will find answer keys and a glossary on the last page.

Prompts are wonderful tools to have when you are helping learners make their way through a workbook or to check on how well the members of your small group are understanding the text.

Here are some prompts to help you spark some meaningful conversations about plant health.

  1. What are some steps that you are already taking to protect plant health? Look up the United Nation's 17 sustainability goals to see if there is anything else you can add to your list.
  2. What do you think a world without plants would look like? Would we be able to survive without them? Which plant do you think you would miss the most?
  3. Use the iNaturalist app or other plant identification apps to see what plants you have in your garden. Are they native to Canada?
  4. Bees have been in trouble recently, meaning we have to protect them. What would happen if we didn't have enough good bugs to pollinate our plants?
  5. You should check you trees once or twice a year, in the spring and fall. Set a reminder on your calendar to give your local plants some attention.

Have fun!

(The iNaturalist app is a third party application and does not necessarily reflect the direct messaging of the Government of Canada)

Meet the Canadian Food Inspection Agency's plant health heroes!

2020 is the International Year of Plant Health! What does that mean? Well… Canada belongs to a group of countries that are working towards a sustainable future for all.

Together we are focused on keeping plants and animals healthy so we can fight global warming and hunger and protect our plants.

Why is plant health so important?

There are so many things that would be impossible without plants!

Plants provide homes and food for animals and insects. Farmers depend on having healthy crops to make money and support their families.

Plants contribute 98% of the oxygen we breathe. Plants create beautiful scenery for walks and hikes.

Plants are also very important to the Canadian economy. Farmers and businesses sell plant products and food grown in Canada to people all around the world.

Can you spot: an animal making its home, a pumpkin, a source of clean energy, someone enjoying the shade, eco-friendly transportation, someone painting nature?

Image of people enjoying a park. Description follows.
Description of image

Image of people enjoying a town that leads into a park. In the town, a bird is building a nest in a tree, a lady is selling pumpkins from a stand and a little girl is riding a bike through the streets. In the park, wind turbines can be seen in the background, a couple is having a picnic in the shade, a man is walking a dog and a woman is painting a picture of the trees.

Plant health villains

Outline of an Asian longhorned beetle.

Plant health villains such as insect pests and invasive plants can damage or kill our plants and trees. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has specially trained heroes to help fight these damaging species.

This invasive insect is called the Asian longhorned beetle. It attacks and kills maple trees. The plant health hero team kicked the Asian longhorned beetle out of Canada in 2020!

Not so fun fact: Another villain, the emerald ash borer has killed millions of ash trees across Canada.

Look up a photo of the Asian longhorned beetle. What colours should you use for this insect?

Insect pests

Even though foreign insects may not be invasive in their home country, they can cause damage to Canadian plants.

Did you know? Not all plant pests are insects!

Use these insect cards to help you spot some plant villains that might be in your area. See something suspicious? Ask a grown-up to help you take a picture and send it to

LDD moth (Lymantria dispar dispar)

Image of a Lymantria dispar.
  • Hurts: Hardwood and soft trees
  • Comes from: Europe and Asia
  • Travels by: Eggs laid on vehicles, trailers, tents, outdoor furniture and firewood

Japanese beetle

Image of a Japanese beetle.
  • Hurts: Many fruit, vegetable and garden plants as well as grass
  • Comes from: Asia
  • Travels by: Roots, soil, plant leaves, or even on cars, trains or planes

Emerald ash borer

Image of an emerald ash borer.
  • Hurts: Ash Trees
  • Comes from: east Asia
  • Travels by: Firewood, hitch hiking on vehicles, infested nursery plants

Hemlock woolly adelgide

Image of hemlock woolly adelgid.
  • Hurts: Hemlock Trees
  • Comes from: Asia
  • Travels by: Infested nursery plants, firewood

Brown spruce longhorned beetle

Image of brown longhorned beetle.
  • Hurts: Spruce trees
  • Comes from: Europe
  • Travels by: Firewood, logs

Insects like to travel just like us. Most insects hitch a ride on things like firewood, car wheels and plant products. Use your pest cards . Where did each insect come from and what is its favourite way to travel?

Match each insect to the "vehicle" it uses to travel to and around Canada. Hint: Some insects have more than one!

We can do our part as plant health heroes by making sure we don't bring these pests with us on our travels.

Match each insect to the 'vehicle' it uses to travel to and around Canada. Description follows.
Description of image

Two lists of images. The left side consisting of hemlock woolly adelgid, a Japanese beetle, a Lymantria dispar dispar, a brown longhorned beetle and an emerald ash borer, while the list on the right has a car pulling a campervan, logs, a nursery plant, a plane and a plant with leaves.

Invasive plants vs. native plants

Some plants can be villains too.

Bringing plant across Canada or from other countries to areas where they don't grow naturally can be dangerous to our plants. That's why it is important to do your research when creating a garden and choose plants that are not invasive.

Look up plants that are native to your area. Pick your favourite four plants and draw them!

Good insects

Most insects are not bad. In fact, less than 1% insects cause damage to our plants by chewing or eating leaves and stems. Pollinators are so important to plant health in Canada that the CFIA carefully controls the import of bees to ensure they are free from pests and diseases.

Pollinating is when good insets take pollen from one plant to another so the plants can create seeds.

Pollination is very important to plant health, which makes good insects like butterflies and bees some of our plant health heroes.

Help the bee pollinate the flowers and get back to its hive.

The original plant health heroes

Long before Canada was a country, Indigenous people have used their respect for nature and knowledge of plants, to thrive in the country's diverse environments.

Did you know: Japanese beetles, spotted lanternflies and brown marmorated stink bugs are invasive species that can damage these important plants.

Image of a maze where a bee must collect two flowers then get back to its hive.

In a number of Indigenous communities, corn, squash and beans are called the "Three sisters."

When planted side by side, these three crops help each other grow, and provide each other with important nutrients. This is called companion planting.

Companion planting is a sustainable form of agriculture.

Image of a squash plant
The protector sister shades and cools the soil, keeping it moist. She prevents weeds and keeps pests away.
Image of a corn
The eldest sister stands in the middle and offers support.
Image of a bean pod
The giving sister pulls nutrients from the air into the soil. As the beans grow, they pull the sisters close together.

How to tree check

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency helps protect our plants and trees by searching for pests and diseases. Our plant health heroes team up with partners across the country to trap insects, test plants and soil and search the environment for invasive species.

Find a tree in your neighborhood and inspect each part to make sure it looks healthy.

The whole tree, the leaves, the branches, the trunk, the roots.

Can you spot: dieback (branches missing leaves), discoloured leaves, insects, holes, cracks and tunnels caused by insects, sawdust.

Image of a tree.
Image of a yellow and green leaf.
Image of a branch with small holes in it.
Image of a tree trunk with a crack.
Image of sawdust around the base of a tree.

Plant health hero checklist

Everyone has a part to play in protecting Canada's plants. That means you!

You've got this!

Spot an invasive species? Take a picture and send your findings to:

Plant health hero badge

Did you complete the plant health hero checklist? Congratulations! Now you can call yourself a plant health hero!

Plant hero badge with a plant hero image outline, name line, superpower line and favorite plant line.


  1. Colour in your plant health hero self portrait.
  2. Fill out your name, superpower & favourite plant.
  3. Cut out along the dotted lines. Carefully cut out the circles, or use a hole punch.
  4. Cut a string about 30" long. Thread the string through both holes. Tie a knot with both ends of the string.
  5. Now you can wear your badge!

We want to see you wearing your finished badge! Have a grown-up take a picture and post it to social media, using the hashtag #CDNPlantHero.


Were these words new to you?


A way of living that does not damage the earth, allowing us to keep the earth healthy for generations to come.

Clean energy

Power that comes from sources that won't run out. For example, wind turbines use the wind.


How money is made and used within a region. A region's economy depends on things like how many goods and services are produced and how much people spend on things.

Invasive species

Insects or plants that are foreign to Canada and that are harming our ecosystem.

Native plants

Plant that have always grown in Canada.


To bring something into a country from another country.


Match each insect to the 'vehicle' it uses to travel to and around Canada (answers). Description follows.
Description of the image

Image of hemlock woolly adelgid matched with logs and the plant with leaves.

Image of the Japanese beetle matched with a car pulling a campervan, a nursery plant and a plane.

Image of the Lymantria dispar dispar matched with a car pulling a campervan and logs.

Image of brown longhorned beetle matched with logs.

Image of emerald ash borer matched with a car pulling a campervan, logs and a plant with leaves.

Image of the trail the bee must take to find its way through the maze.

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