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Alabama Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Center

Alabama School IPM Program

Safety in our schools is an important issue. Students, parents, administrators, faculty and staff are of the obvious threats to children. One component of the Alabama Educational Ruler, a blueprint to help all Alabama schools and students, providing a safe school environment is one. AN obvious threat overlooked in our schools by these groups is exposure of our children to pest populations, and to pesticides. Exposure to either can cause allergic reactions to sensitive students. Using an integrated approach, pest managers can reduce pest populations while reducing pest populations.

Continue Monitoring & Improving the IPM Program in Pilot Schools

The Mobile County School System (116 schools) opened a new bid for pest management services. We worked with the school system to set up bid specifications for pest management using verifiable IPM. The bid was awarded to a new pest management professional. Four trips were made to the school system to work with the new Pest Management Professional (PMP) and to train technicians on inspection, monitoring, and communications. Two meetings were held with the Superintendent to discuss IPM implementation, adding new pilot schools, and expansion of the program beyond pilot schools. Pesticide audits were conducted in the original pilot schools. Contacts were made with Mobile County public health officials on the status of pest monitors in cafeterias to make sure pest monitor locations would not affect health and sanitation inspections. An IPM training session was conducted for cafeteria workers in the Auburn City School System.

Add New Pilot Schools in the Mobile & Shelby County School Systems

Five new pilot schools were added in the Mobile County School System. Pest audits were conducted at the schools and reports were given to the PMP, Superintendent, Child Nutrition Director and Maintenance Coordinator. A later visit was made to the pilot schools with the PMP to assist with communication and monitoring (pest log use by school personnel). Pest audits were conducted in the Shelby County pilot schools. Audits were also conducted in four new pilot schools.

Train Pest Management Professionals & School Personnel

One important segment of IPM in schools that is often overlooked is the school exterior, including athletic fields. On July 18, a Turf Workshop was conducted for participating school systems on the Auburn University campus. Thirteen coaches and grounds personnel attended. Instructors on turf were David Hand and Beth Guertal of Auburn University and by Gretchen Pettis of the University of Georgia. Fudd Graham provided instruction on fire ant management and pesticide safety. The day ended with a tour of the turf program at Jordan-Hare Stadium on campus. Training for janitorial and cafeteria staff were conducted in the Auburn City School system, the Sylacauga City School System, and the Shelby County School System. Visits were made to the Mobile County School System and the Sylacauga City School System to work with PMP’s and to train them in IPM methodology.

Expand the IPM Program into a New School System

We have found that if the upper administration is not sold on an IPM program in a school system, expansion is all but impossible. We must have the support of an active administration for the IPM program to progress throughout a school system. A new school system was added to our school IPM group. The city of Sylacauga school system had a problem with fire ants and requested help from the local county agent. The agent told the superintendent about our program and we were invited to make a presentation. There are five schools in the system, so all were considered pilot schools. Pest audits were conducted in all five schools. Gretchen Pettis from the University of Georgia assisted with the audits. She has expertise in ornamentals and turf that is lacking in our group and is now a partner. We assisted the Sylacauga City School System with parameters for bidding a contract with a Pest Management Professional using IPM as a basis. Once the PMP was chosen, we provided training in inspection and monitoring for the PMP. Training sessions were also conducted for the principals and for the cafeteria and maintenance staff.

Verify Progress Using IPM Star Certification Standards

All pest audits in participating schools were conducted using the IPM Star Certification program as a standard for “demand side” pest management so the school community and the pest management professional could have a common set of standards.

The Alabama School Program is helping to meet the National IPM Roadmap goals by reducing potential human health and environmental risks from pests in schools and by improving cost benefit ratio of pest management. Most pest management professionals think that IPM strategies are more costly, and this may be true initially. However, we have found that after the initial pest audit and maintenance and sanitation issues are corrected, the PMP actually spends less time in schools that are serious about implementing an IPM program. Cooperation by the school system is essential in this process. Sanitation, repairs and maintenance by the school are an important component of the IPM program. Pest problems are dealt with at the source, providing a sustainable management program based on prevention, rather than reaction to outbreaks. The number of students and school systems in Alabama impacted by our program are listed in the table below.

For More Information, Please Contact:

Dr. Lawrence “Fudd” Graham
Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology, Auburn University
301 Funchess Hall, Auburn, AL 36849
Phone: (334) 844-2563
Email: grahalc@auburn.edu

Additional Information


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