Stop School Pests Self-Guided Online Training Available Now
By Alina Freund, Community IPM Manager, IPM Institute of North America
Students spend a major part of each day in school – at least 25% of the time they’re awake. An unhealthy school environment can have a profound effect on their health and well-being in the short- and long-term. Stop School Pests training for schools, a free, self-guided training package aimed at K-12 staff who are involved in the environmental health of schools is now available online.
Developed by a team of IPM experts, this training will benefit any K-12 school district that wants to improve their school’s environmental health by reducing hazards from pests and pesticides.
“Ensuring the health of students involves finding a balance in pest management efforts. This training packet will give staff the tools to effectively find that balance,” said Tom Green, President of the IPM Institute of North America and part of the team that developed the project over the last years.
Schools regularly face pest problems that affect their day-to-day operations, and there are always emerging challenges requiring new approaches, such as Zika. Because of their developing bodies and habits, children are particularly vulnerable to pests and chemical exposure.
As a result, school districts are under pressure to improve scholastic achievement and enhancements in environmental health, which lead to improvements in human health and can directly result in increases in scholastic achievement.
The nine modules of the training titled Stop School Pests provide individualized, standardized and scientifically-tested training for Facility Managers, Maintenance Staff, Administrative Staff, Teachers, Food Service Staff, Custodial Staff, Landscape and Grounds Staff, School Nurses, and Technicians/Pest Management Providers.
“I have been a school nurse for 25 years and I cannot believe I learned so much helpful information in just one hour,” said Mary Griffin, School Nurse for the Apache Junction Unified School District after taking the training during its pilot testing.
The training modules are available in two versions for the intended type of training:
- An in-class teaching version can be downloaded as a PowerPoint presentation and modified as needed.
- The online training can be taken directly on the website. Sample exam questions to test the learning results are available for download too.
The Stop School Pests project was initiated by a national multi-agency, cross-disciplinary team of IPM experts with the goal of improving school environmental health through the effective and safe management of pests. Funding for the project came from the US Environmental Protection Agency, US Department of Agriculture (NIFA) and University of Arizona – Arizona Pest Management Center.
Other parties involved included 20 academic institutions, 11 state agencies, three federal agencies, nine child health advocacy agencies, eight school districts, two tribes, four industry partners to assure a wide swath of input to inform this one-of-a-kind project. “More than 50 subject matter experts were involved in creating the training. Their collective wisdom was vast and generously given.” said Dawn Gouge, who is part of the core project team and trained school staff in the pilot testing phase.
In a later stage of the project the project team will work with national and state agencies to have the lessons qualify for continuing education credits (CEs), which could include credits for registered sanitarians or pest management staff.
Why IPM in schools?
IPM is a science-based approach to reducing risk and improving effectiveness in pest management. Because pests need food, water and shelter to thrive, the IPM approach employs common sense improvements to sanitation and building maintenance standards, all geared towards keeping pests from resources they need to survive and breed. IPM relies on a good understanding of pest biology and ecology in the school environment. IPM aims to prevent pests in the long-term, and utilizes the least-hazardous, most effective, sustainable and cost-effective methods to control infestations when they do occur.
The team of experts that developed the training modules focused on one of the earliest steps for implementing IPM – IPM education – which is why the project developed the Stop School Pest education materials. Educational efforts have several proven benefits that the team wants to leverage in helping all schools become healthier places, including:
- Increasing awareness, knowledge and understanding,
- Leveraging community involvement and investment,
- Forging connections between subject matter experts, practitioners and school staff,
- Maximizing the potential for cooperation,
- Improving emergency preparedness,
- Better responding to pest vectored diseases.
Everyone is part of making schools a healthier place to play, work and learn, which is why Stop School Pests training considers all school staff. IPM is a team effort and only by working together can these programs reach their full potential.
For any questions on the training, media requests or questions to the project team please contact Alina Freund.
Thank you to all the organizations that were involved in this project! Among them were:
IPM Institute of North America
Michigan State University
National Pest Management Association
Oregon State University
Texas A&M Agri Life
University of Arizona
University of Illinois
University of Nebraska
Washington State University
Thank you to the funders of Stop School Pests who made this possible:
University of Arizona – Arizona Pest Management Center
US Department of Agriculture (USDA NIFA)
US Environmental Protection Agency
Our gratitude goes to everyone who contributed to making this project happen, with special mention deserving: Erin Bauer, Tim Stock, Janet Hurley, Dawn Gouge, Carrie Foss, Fudd Graham, Kathy Murray and Tom Green.