Back in 2013, the Northeast School IPM Working Group (NESIWG) received a Partnership Grant from the Northeastern IPM Center to develop a Best Management Practices (BMP) website.
Reducing pest and pesticide exposure is important for children, just as it is for district staff and visitors. But schools are especially challenging to manage because they include such varied and heavily used settings such as classrooms, cafeterias, laboratories, auditoriums, theaters, playing fields, playgrounds and gardens.
The burden of use on an athletic field. (NYSIPM photo)
With the help of many contributors, the NESIWG both created and collected resources for school IPM. We wanted to help administrators, school boards, parents, teaching and support staff, athletic directors, groundskeepers, kitchen staff and custodians how a designated pest management plan can reduce both pests and the need for pesticides. The website was a success.
By 2018, NESIWG members saw the need to update old links and fill out gaps in the content. Eager to keep the website a useful and comprehensive resource, the working group applied for and received a NEIPM Communications grant. Again using focus groups, the following changes were made:
a reorganization of the pest species list,
additional information on relevant pesticide use regulations in all Northeastern states,
grouping resources by stakeholder roles,
the addition of two new pages: Breakfast in the Classroom and Playgrounds
Additionally, the recent grant included an update of the working group’s homepage, a new ranking of regional school IPM priorities, a current membership list and an index of school IPM contacts in the Northeast.
Front (Outside) of Brochure
Now, with changes soon to be complete, the NESIWG welcomes your visits and assistance in sharing this helpful site. After all, finding and using the website is key!
December’s wintery breath is already clouding the pond, frosting the pane, obscuring summer’s memory… ― John Geddes
Winter had an early showing in New York this year. So when the temperature hit 50oF yesterday, I took the opportunity to spend some time outside. And, as I had warned people that follow me and NYS IPM on social media with this great graphic by Matt Frye earlier today, the ticks were out and about. (Side note: follow us at www.facebook.com/NYSIPM and twitter.com/NYSIPM for up-to-date information you can use.)
Now, the ticks weren’t as active as the 70 oF day last February. I had to put in a little more effort to find them. But while tick dragging, I noticed where others regularly go off the beaten track (or, rather, create their own beaten track). We’re going to call this The Dog Zone.
There’s a perfectly good paved path, but the dog print laden path is inches from the woodline.
Let’s face it. Dogs want to stick their noses into interesting places, and there just aren’t that many interesting places on the pavement. So they will take advantage of the length of the leash to get off the pavement and follow the scent trails. And the smells of mice, chipmunks, squirrels, raccoons, deer, rabbits (you get the idea), are more likely to be wafting at the edge of the woods than in the short grass. I watched dog walkers leave the pavement themselves to indulge their furry friends. Unfortunately, ticks are more likely to be in those areas.
Talk to your vet about options to protect your pets from ticks and tick-borne diseases.
But the really important message here is that ticks are active during the winter. And even if the air temperature is less than 37oF, a protected, sun-exposed area next to a woodline can be significantly warmer. Last week a site we were monitoring had an air temperature of 40oF, but the ground temperature was 50.6oF. So I will end by emphasizing the need to protect yourself from ticks year-round and conduct a tick check EVERY DAY.
Year in and out, outreach to schools has our community IPM staff going back to school. Literally. We work with maintenance staff, nurses, groundskeepers, teachers, and parents. We provide the insight and know-how it takes to keep kids safe from pests and pesticides both. But schools are tricky to manage because—well, think of them as a village. You’ve got your cafeterias, laboratories, auditoriums, theaters, classrooms, athletic fields, playgrounds. Add in vacation and after-hours use for public meetings, community sports teams, summer schools and camps. Plus, New York’s laws restrict when, where and how pesticides can be used at school.
Which means you’ve got work. Because chances are, you’ve got pests.
Worried about ticks? By rights you should be. The hazards can hardly be overstated. We help teachers, school nurses, and entire communities learn how to stay tick-free regardless the season—and warn them that old-time remedies could increase the likelihood of disease.
Two years. Yup. Ticks know how to make good use of their time.
Get yourself some super-pointy tweezers, the type that airport security would probably confiscate. Be firm: steady and straight up until that sucker lets go.
Named for the white dot on the female’s back, this tick has a few tricks up its sleeve. More to come in another post.
Next up—unsafe playing fields. Is there goose poo on athletic fields and playgrounds? It’s not just unsanitary—it makes for slick footing and falls. And take it from us: weedy, compacted soil is a “slick footing and falls” risk too. How to manage turf, pesticide-free? We teach repetitive overseeding as a thoughtful alternative to repetitive herbicides. We’ll get to that in another post.
The New York State IPM Program seeks four new staff to amplify our IPM outreach and research for farms and communities around New York. Here are the positions (three of them new) we seek to fill:
Biocontrol Specialist (Extension Associate)
Alternative Weed Management Specialist (Extension Associate)
Coordinator for the Network for Environment and Weather Applications (Extension Associate)
Coordinator for Livestock and Field Crops IPM (Senior Extension Associate)
Our mission: to develop sustainable ways to manage disease, insect, weed, and wildlife pests; and to help people use methods that minimize environmental, health, and economic risks. Our agricultural and community programs have overlapping issues and settings. Agricultural IPM programming includes fruits, vegetables, ornamentals, and livestock and field crops. Community IPM promotes insect, weed, plant disease and wildlife management in schools, homes, and workplaces as well as on lawns, playfields, golf courses, parks and landscapes; it also includes invasive species and public health pests. NYSIPM is a national leader in developing and promoting IPM practices.
Hands-on workshops held on neighborhood farms are a tried and true way to get IPM practices to stick.
We foster a collegial and cooperative environment where teamwork is emphasized and appreciated. We also collaborate with Cornell University faculty, staff, and Cornell Cooperative Extension educators, as well as with specialists from other states and universities. These positions will be housed either in Geneva (NYSAES) or Ithaca (Cornell campus).
Education and Experience
All applicants must have an MS (required) or PhD (preferred) degree in entomology, plant pathology, horticulture or other suitable field. A minimum of two years professional experience in extension education and research or demonstration in required for extension associates and eight years for the senior extension associate. We will consider experience as a graduate student.
Additional Information AND HOW TO APPLY
For more information and application instructions, click here. Applications will be accepted until 8/31/2016 or until a suitable candidate is found.
May 8, 2015
by Lynn A. Braband Comments Off on Survey Provides Insights into IPM within NYS Schools
A 2013 survey of the pest management policies and practices of New York State public schools was recently published on-line: Pest Management Practices: A Survey of Public School Districts in New York State. A partnership of the NYS IPM Program, the NYS Department of Health, the NYS Education Department, and the NYS School Facilities Association, the goals of the survey were to evaluate the status of IPM in public elementary and secondary schools, provide guidance on assisting schools in improving pest management, gauge changes since a 2001 survey, and ascertain the impacts of the state’s Neighbor Notification Law and the Child Safe Playing Field Act.
Highlights include a large increase in the number of school districts with written pest management policies, a low rate of issues associated with pesticide applications, and reductions in pesticide use. Prominent needs that exist concerning pest management in schools include the pervasive issue of food in classrooms and other non-cafeteria locations and the challenges associated with maintaining quality athletic fields in light of the Child Safe Playing Fields Act. The implications of the drop in certified pesticide applicators employed by schools needs to be assessed. Also, geese are increasing as a troublesome pest on school grounds.
Approximately 73% of the districts responding to the 2013 survey indicated that they had a written pest management policy, up from 45% in 2001. Official written policies provide a consistent framework for implementing safe and effective pest management. However, most school districts did not have a policy concerning food outside of cafeterias. This is a frequent attractant for pests such as ants and mice.
The percentage of school districts that employed staff certified as pesticide applicators dropped from 50% in 2001 to 34% in 2013. Most districts did not have regularly scheduled pesticide applications. However, the rate of those that did, around 23%, changed little from 2001 to 2013.
The most frequent and troublesome pests in NYS schools in both surveys were ants, stinging insects, mice, and weeds. The only pest situation that significantly increased was geese, from 14% of the districts in 2001 to 25% in 2013.
In 2013, we asked schools about their use of minimum risk pesticides, as products with boric acid or plant essential oils. Fourteen percent of the districts indicated that they used these products routinely, while 62% stated that minimum risk pesticides are used infrequently. Future trends in the use of such products by schools would be informative.
Most NYS school districts received complaints about pests within three years prior to 2013. Not over two per cent had received complaints about pesticide applications during the same period.
Almost 90% of the survey respondents indicated that they had not experienced any problems implementing the Neighbor Notification Law, and almost 50% stated that the law resulted in a significant reduction in pesticide use by their school districts. Almost 60% indicated little impact of the Child Safe Playing Field Act since they had already implemented pesticide alternatives. About 22% stated a major impact and anticipated difficulty in maintaining quality of the grounds. Another 20% indicated moderate changes to their practices and that they were looking into pesticide alternatives. Over 60% of the survey respondents indicated that the Child Safe Playing Field Act had caused a reduction in pesticide use by their school districts.
April 14, 2015
by Joellen Lampman Comments Off on Lawn care and the spring itch
“April hath put a spirit of youth in everything.” ― William Shakespeare
It’s Spring (with a capital S) and the urge to get outside and work in the yard is mounting. When it comes to your lawn, what should you be thinking about and doing as April progresses?
Ahhh, spring. Waiting for the grass to grow.
Getting ready to mow
Depending on where you are, it might be awhile yet before it is time to gas up the mower. In the meantime, avoid the rush and get your mower tuned up and the blades sharpened. Set the mower blades to their highest setting. If you do nothing else this year, keep your blades sharp throughout the season, mow high, and leave the clippings in place.
Not sure how to remove the blade from your walk-behind or tractor? Want to sharpen your blades yourself but don’t know how? Here are some videos to help you out:
Do not fertilize if the lawn is looking good or you fertilized in the fall. The grass can get all the nutrients it needs from the soil and grass clippings.
Research has shown that fertilizing is best done in the fall when it supports root growth. Spring fertilization promotes top growth. There are two issues with this. First, promoting top growth at the expense of root growth leads to grass that is less resistant to drought and pests. Second, while you may currently find it hard to believe, you will get tired of mowing.
Fall is also the best time for seeding, but if you have bare patches or thin areas, fill these areas with a mixture of perennial rye grass seed.
Enjoying our ThinkIPM blog? Truck on over to our School ABCs blog — you’ll find plenty of good stuff there, too. Sure, it’s aimed mainly at school staff — but who doesn’t care about our schools? Seek no further:
Touchdown! But who wants goose poo on their cleats? Sign up to learn more.
Although beautiful in flight and valued as a symbol of the wild, Canada Geese frequenting school grounds, including athletic fields, are a growing concern. Come and learn about goose biology and behavior, the legal framework for dealing with goose problems, alleviation techniques available to schools, and the long-term management of geese and goose problems.
A second workshop helps school personnel learn to deal with goose problems on school grounds and athletic fields on February 20 (Rochester) or March 13 (Norwich).
Aren’t bed bugs supposed to be button-shaped? This one is because it’s well fed, but as it digests its meal it’ll become buttonlike again. Courtesy Gary Alpert.
Don’t panic, and don’t assume the insect’s source, but discreetly remove the student from the classroom. If you’re not the person responsible for pest management, contact them immediately. Someone must attempt to collect the insect for proper ID! Examine the student’s belongings, in keeping with your district’s personal property policy. If the insect is a bed bug, contact the student’s parents by phone, explaining the facts without targeting fault. Offer to send educational bed bug information home with the student at the end of the day. There should be no reason to send the student home early. If your district is completely unprepared for this type of event, it’s time to determine a policy.
A New York law essentially banning pesticide use on the grounds of schools and day care centers has been full effect since 2011. … Besides the playgrounds, turf, athletic or playing fields clearly stated in the law, playground equipment and fence lines around athletic fields and tennis courts are included.
The following areas are left to local discretion, but with the understanding that the intent of the law is to reduce children’s exposure to pesticides:
Areas around buildings
Ornamental plants such as trees, shrubs, and flowers
The person responsible for pest management decisions in your school or child care facility should be able to identify bed bugs, as well as understand their life cycle, habitat needs and how to prevent or remove them. But all of us should do ourselves a favor and learn about this pest. With ever-increasing incidences of bed bug infestations, knowledge is your number one key to prevention.
Children are not little adults – they are still growing and developing. We need to take special precautions to keep them safe
…a great reminder from the EPA’s newly updated Healthy Schools website. They hope to provide a more user-friendly site and have added a “School Bulletin Board” where you’ll find all the news regarding healthy school environments.
We’ve all heard it: “Lack of planning on your part doesn’t constitute an emergency on my part.” But — but — sometimes it creates an incredible mess.
Two basic steps in Integrated Pest Management — planning and communication —avoid a number of problems. Recently an upstate NY school rented its space to an outside agency — a practice that’s becoming more common in these tough economic times. And what could be more important than preventing the mistakes that cause really expensive problems from happening?
This damage wasn’t caused by insects, diseases, or weeds. But it’s still relevant to a thorough IPM Plan. Any turfgrass manager will confirm — often the most damaging pests are people.
Prevention — it’s core to good IPM. Because clear communication and good planning could have prevented this athletic-field disaster.
In a nutshell, the school was told 1,000 people would be coming to the school for exams. They assumed this meant that 500 would arrive in the morning and 500 in the afternoon — and knew the parking lot could accommodate that number of cars. When 1,000 people showed up for the morning exam someone started directing cars onto athletic fields just thawing from the frozen winter. The result?
“Four acres of mud and ruts,” the local paper said.