By: Paul Schattenberg, Texas A&M AgriLife Communications
DALLAS – The Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center in Dallas recently held an inaugural hands-on integrated pest management, or IPM, training class for more than a dozen professionals and paraprofessionals in the business of pest control.
The class was the first to be offered using the IPM Experience House, a facility designed to train pest-control professionals how to control pests more safely and effectively.
“This was the first time for the center to host a program based on hands-on demonstrations of pest exclusion practices for homes,” said Dr. Mike Merchant, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service urban entomologist in Dallas and a program presenter. “It was our first class to be offered through the IPM Experience House and we hope it will be the first of many such courses to be offered here.”
The class was part of a rodent exclusion hands-on training for pest control apprentices, technicians and commercial applicators offered by the center. It offered six continuing education credits for commercial applicators, while apprentices and technicians received a course certificate for six hours of attendance.
“Training at the IPM Experience House was among the hands-on educational opportunities offered during the program,” Merchant said. “The house is a former dormitory building near the center that is in the process of being converted into a classroom. It is being designed to provide a realistic, controlled environment in which to practice the skills and craft of integrated pest management.”
Merchant said special training at the house during the recent program was provided by Tim Madere with the City of New Orleans Mosquito, Rodent and Termite Control Board. Madere is involved in the New Orleans Rat Project, a National Science Foundation-funded multi-disciplinary effort to investigate the ongoing human-rodent interaction after Hurricane Katrina.
After an explanation of learning objectives and review of integrated pest management principles for exclusion at the center, class attendees went to a residential location for instruction on how to seal up a home, including siding, gutters, soffits and flashing. After that, they were taken to the IPM Experience House for additional training.
“IPM Experience House is a facility being designed to provide hands-on training experiences for professionals involved in both structural and landscape pest control,” explained Janet Hurley, AgriLife Extension program specialist for school integrated pest management in Dallas and another of the program presenters. “It is supported by the Texas pest control industry, with staffing and curriculum development being developed by integrated pest management specialists based at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Dallas.”
Hurley said pest management professionals provide critical services to our communities by controlling pests like termites, fire ants, cockroaches, bed bugs, rodents and other important pests.
“Integrated pest management is a way of conducting pest control that seeks the best, science-based solutions, while protecting the environment and human health,” she said.
Merchant added that despite the importance of hands-on learning for adults, most continuing education classes typically involve passive learning, such as listening to lectures and viewing slides.
“But the IPM Experience House adds another dimension to learning and provides an opportunity for hands-on experience that’s usually missing from most IPM training,” he said.
Merchant said a pest control professional and technician from Alvin said they came to Dallas because the program was “a unique opportunity to experience both classroom and hands-on field training in one class.”
“Hands-on training easily becomes a two-way process,” Merchant said. “Not only do students learn from instructors, but we as researchers and teachers learn a lot from our students also. The ultimate goal of IPM Experience House is to raise the level of training of the men and women who come into our homes every day to control rats and wildlife, cockroaches, bedbugs and all sorts of other pests.
“The business of pest control is complex, and each of our experiences are unique, so we all have something to teach. That’s what the IPM Experience House is supposed to be all about — and what we want it to be in the future.”
For more information on the IPM Experience House, go to http://ipmhouse.tamu.edu
To see when the next class will be held, visit http://ipmhouse.tamu.edu/classes