3rd Annual IPM Pride Award Winners
IPM Pride first place winner from left: Tim Walsh, Grounds Crew Leader; Tom Ohm, Safety Technician; Noel Nixon, Risk Management Crew Leader; Tim Sanz, Environmental Safety and Health Coordinator, and Dr. Michael Merchant, Texas Cooperative Extension
The third annual “IPM Pride Awards” for the best integrated pest management programs in Texas’ public schools have been announced.
First place went to Frisco Independent School District, followed by Brenham ISD in second place and College Station ISD, which received an honorable mention.
The awards are presented by the Southwest Technical Resource Center, which is located at the Texas A&M University Research and Extension Center at Dallas.
Janet Hurley, program coordinator, said the center’s mission is helping schools eliminate vermin and unwanted pests through the use of fewer and safer pesticides.
Texas enacted a school integrated pest management law, commonly known as IPM, in 1990. All of the state’s public school districts were required to implement an integrated pest management program by Sept. 1, 1995.
In 2001, a seed grant from the Environmental Protection Agency funded the center’s opening. Today the center provides technical assistance and resources to school districts and child care facilities.
“Since opening our doors in 2001, we have trained and assisted over one-third of the schools in Texas, and in some cases, at no cost for on-site compliance assistance, helping the districts save virtually thousands of dollars on pesticides and sometimes avoid costly fines,” Hurley said.
Texas has 4.3 million students in 1,039 school districts, the second largest public school population in the nation. Pests in schools are not generally a big issue until a situation gets out of hand, Hurley said. The center helps schools create preventive pest management programs.
Because integrated pest management is mandated by the state, schools have two options to comply, Hurley said.
“We prefer to dangle a carrot rather than wield a stick ,” she said. “All of this year’s winners have taken their integrated pest management programs from non-compliance to compliance and well beyond. All have gone the extra mile and they are being recognized for that.”
Frisco ISD took top honors, winning $1,250 and a plaque. Second place went to Brenham ISD, which will receive $750 and a plaque. College Station ISD garnered an Honorable Mention plaque.
All of the awards will be handed out individually. Frisco’s award will be presented at the next school district meeting on Aug. 22. The other two dates have not yet been determined.
Frisco won for three reasons, Hurley said: administrative support, program leaders and ability to handle phenomenal growth. Tim Walsh was Frisco’s original IPM coordinator. He started in 1995 and relinquished control to Tim Sanz in 2003.
Even before the transition the Frisco school district had begun to grow.
“In 1995 the district was considered rural and had maybe five buildings ,” shesaid. “In 2005, they have close to 30 school buildings and it’s increasing at a rate of five new buildings per year.”
“Because of that rapid growth, several years ago Tim Walsh was experiencing a large roof rat problem. They got innovative and started using what is called ‘the ratzapper’ and were able to control their rodent problem. They used innovative techniques rather than chemicals to solve the problem. That’s essentially what IPM is all about.”
IPM Pride second place winner: From left to right – Walt Desern, David Yeager, Superintendent, Dr. Don Renchie, Texas Cooperative Extension, Valisia Grebe, Tom Gore, Tony Bailey.
Brenham’s school district was awarded second place for its progress with integrated pest management in just three years.
“Their IPM program three years ago was basically non-existent ,” Hurley said. “They were getting by with just the minimum standards. Three years ago they licensed and trained Valisia Grebe to be a non-commercial applicator and the IPM coordinator.
“ Valisia now treats this like her own personal crusade to rid the district of all of its pest problems. She conducts routine inspections early in the morning before school even opens to make sure the buildings are safe for children and teachers. She addresses each pest problem with devotion and dedication unparalleled to most IPM Coordinators. Her favorite friend is the digital camera. When Valisia finds a problem she takes a picture of it and makes sure the administrators are aware of the conditions that are fostering the problem to ensure she gets the support necessary to take care of it.”
College Station received its recognition for the efforts of David Johnson, whom Hurley likes to call “Mr. Quiet”. She described Johnson as diligent and committed to integrated pest management.
“David’s been in his position since 1995, slowly trying to change the district from using traditional pest control to truly adopting integrated pest management,” Hurley said. “David’s biggest success has been working with parents who have children who are chemically sensitive to fire ants and trying to control the fire ant situation around school buildings. He has had to use multiple tactics to keep the fire ants under control.”
The awards are open to public school districts in Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma and New Mexico. Entry is free; but a detailed application must be filled out. A nine–member panel of entomologists and scientists from across the country read the applications and determine the winners.
For more information contact Janet Hurley at 877-747-6872 or https://schoolipm.tamu.edu
JAH & MEM