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School Grounds Best Management Practices Workshop set for July 7

Posted: June 17, 2011

Reducing the use of pesticides in and around schools is attracting attention of parents, school facilities managers, administrators and lawmakers alike. Penn State Cooperative Extension and the Pennsylvania IPM Program are offering a workshop in Pittsburgh on July 7 to help schools manage pests using cost-effective and environmentally friendly methods.

Reducing the use of pesticides in and around schools is attracting attention of parents, school facilities managers, administrators and lawmakers alike.  Penn State Cooperative Extension and the Pennsylvania IPM Program are offering a workshop in Pittsburgh on July 7 to help schools manage pests using cost-effective and environmentally friendly methods.

According to Lyn Garling, PA IPM Manager of Programs, children are more sensitive to potential negative effects of chemicals in their environment. “Several states have passed laws mandating pest management techniques that reduce or eliminate the need for insecticides and herbicides in schools,” Garling explains. “In Pennsylvania, public schools are legally bound to practice integrated pest management, or IPM. IPM is an approach to pest management that uses knowledge of pests’ biology and multiple control tactics to improve success while reducing reliance on pesticides.”

The workshop, “Lean & Green: Best Practices for School Grounds”, is being held at the O’Hara Elementary School, 115 Cabin Lane in Pittsburgh from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and will focus on keeping school grounds both safe and attractive in the lean years by using an IPM approach and few or no pesticides. “Grounds managers are being challenged to control pests while keeping students safe and costs contained. The workshop will give them a practical perspective on cost-effective and environmentally friendly methods to manage pests,” says Dr. Jennifer Grant, assistant director of the New York State IPM Program and a workshop presenter.

The workshop will also include outdoor demonstrations of practices, walking discussions and presentations by experienced educators. Participants will see comparison plots showing the effects of different practices on lawn health and weed suppression. Participants should include those with responsibility for grounds maintenance including public and private schools staff, commercial landscape contractors, cooperative extension educators, and parks & recreation staff.

Speakers include Dr. Grant, who will discuss prioritizing and selecting best management practices for turf maintenance. She has many years of experience working with turf and grounds managers. Some golf course managers working with Dr. Grant on IPM methods were able to reduce the environmental impact of pesticides by as much as 93 percent. Dr. Grant will also lead a discussion on how grounds managers can communicate their program to administrators, school boards, parents and staff. Another presenter, Jeff Fowler, cooperative extension agent in Venengo County, will lead a field walk to show demonstrations of side-by-side comparisons of practices and discussions of challenges and opportunities. Sandy Feather, cooperative extension agent in Allegheny County, will speak on and demonstrate IPM techniques for ornamentals on school grounds.

Registration for the workshop is $20 and includes lunch and a number of valuable informational resources. Pesticide credits will be provided in Categories 6,7,18, 23 and “private”. Attendance is limited to 50 participants on a first come basis. To register, go to http://www.event.com/d/4dqhsn.

For more information on the workshop, contact Sandy Feather at (412) 473-2540. The workshop is sponsored by the IPM Institute of North America and USEPA, USDA Northeastern IPM in Schools Work Group, New York IPM Program at Cornell University, Pennsylvania IPM Program at Penn State, and Penn State Cooperative Extension.