1st Annual IPM Pride Award Winners
Texas School District Recognized for Excellence in Pest Control
The average parent may not give much thought to what dangerous insect, rodent or poisonous plant might be lurking on their child’s school grounds this fall. But at La Vega ISD, a small school district north of Waco, Texas, school maintenance staff thinks about it a lot.
La Vega ISD is the first recipient of the new “IPM Pride Award” given by the Southwest Technical Resource Center for IPM in Schools. Integrated pest management, or IPM, is widely recognized as the most effective and safest way to control pest problems around schools, homes and businesses.
“Pest problems occur at schools, just like around homes,” says Janet Hurley, coordinator of the Center, which is located at the Texas A&M University Research and Extension Center in Dallas. “La Vega ISD did the best job of anyone we know this year controlling pests safely and efficiently.”
“Schools who use IPM are committed not only to the best pest control program, but also to reducing the amount and hazard associated with pesticide applications,” said Hurley. “Pest control is a part of school maintenance that doesn’t receive much attention. We want parents to know how good a job their schools are doing in this important task.”
“La Vega showed the most organized and efficient IPM system out of all the nominees,” she adds. Becky Thomas, La Vega Safety & Environmental Compliance Specialist, credits a team approach and an organized system for their success. Her system includes a sophisticated record-keeping system for monitoring pest activity, facility repair needs, inspection results and pesticide applications for each campus. Thomas also has an email account set up for each school, so problems can be addressed as soon as they are received.
The team work Thomas refers to comes, in large part, from her certified applicator Glen Kroll. “It’s great to have someone working with me who knows IPM as well as, if not better than I do,” says Thomas. “He sees things that we can address before they ever become problems,” she adds.
When the Waco-McLennan County Public Health District department came to investigate a pest problem at one of the middle schools, the inspector reported La Vega’s IPM system to be the “best, most proactive program” she had seen. In addition to the recognition, Thomas is now receiving calls from other schools, asking for advice on their IPM programs.
The IPM Pride Award is more than just a pat on the back. The winning maintenance department receives a cash prize of $1,000. According to Thomas, her department will put the award to good use by purchasing more IPM supplies.
The second place winner, Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD, located in Carrollton, Texas and consisting of 54 buildings, received a cash prize of $500. Irving, Katy, Pilot Point and Rogers school districts received honorable mentions for their IPM efforts.
Integrated pest management is pest control method of choice according to literature published by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). It is also a key component in the EPA “Tools for Schools” indoor air quality program. The Center was established in 2001, with help from EPA, to promote awareness of IPM and provide technical support to schools and childcare facilities in Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico.
According to Hurley, the IPM Pride Awards will be given by the Center annually to Texas school districts with the best IPM programs. To learn more about the award program and School IPM, visit the Center’s website at https://schoolipm.tamu.edu.