Monday, February 28, 2011

Omaha Public Schools 4th visit

On February 24th, our Extension team visited the OPS demonstration school for the 4th Integrated Pest Managment walkthrough. We had a really good turnout...with three PMPs from the contracted company; the IPM Coordinator (head custodian); and environmental and operations professionals from the main OPS office, who have been heavily involved in this effort, all attending.

As we did with LPS, we first spent some time in the conference room discussing questions they had about the recommendations we had provided from our third visit, and about IPM Star. The school and the district are still working out a good system for communicating pest sightings to the pest control company and keeping records in the log book. Although the log books are in place, we encouraged the IPM Coordinator and PMPs to strive to write more details about what has been seen by the school (including teacher and other staff reports) and the resulting treatments done by the PMPs. This will be an important element for IPM Star Certification.

After our meeting, we conducted a walkthrough...visiting the kitchen and kitchen storage, staff lounge, home ec, portable perimeter, boiler room and custodial closets, all of which we'd had concerns about in the past.

The kitchen had had a pretty bad German roach problem when we first began these visits and this has improved dramatically due to better monitoring and cleaning. We did find some active oriental roaches in one corner of the kitchen near sinks and manager's office, which will need to be addressed. We also found some phorid (humpbacked) flies and a moth fly on some of the traps, indicating there is still some moisture and sanitation issues. We encouraged the school to continue their sanitation (especially deep cleaning) efforts, and the PMPs to place more sticky traps to provide for more extensive monitoring.

The kitchen storage room didn't have many problems, although we did find that the trash can handles were made with holes that provided harborage sites and a good place for debris to accumulate. We recommended that these holes be sealed. We also recommended that plastic pallets being used for storage be moved further away from walls so that they don't hinder inspection efforts.

The staff lounge was also vastly improved from it's original high German roach infestation. Much of this probably had to do with removal of conducive furniture (couches, etc.), old wallpaper, and an old pop machine. We encourage continued monitoring in this room.

The boiler room was in good condition as well, but we recommended a continued effort to keep floor drains covered to discourage rats.

One custodial closet had a German roach problem, with nymphs found on traps. Increased sanitation and application of roach gel bait is necessary in this room.

Finally, we visited the home ec room...although we didn't find any roaches as we have in the past, there was a lot of sanitation issues, such as grime under and around stoves, a large hole in the wall under one sink, and clothes behind the washing machine. We spoke with the home ec teacher, who told us about seeing roaches in the past and believing it was a pretty bad infestation. This is another place where sanitation measures should be increased as well as continued monitoring.

Outside,Stephen Vantassel took a look at the perimeter around the portable classrooms. There was evidence of animal entry in holes around the portables. The school will need to take measures to fill in these holes (after making sure the animal is gone) to prevent new inhabitants from moving in.

Overall, the school has made some good improvements, especially in the reduction of German roaches in the kitchen and staff lounge areas. But there are still other improvements and ongoing general IPM practices we are going to encourage them to implement.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Pest Private Eye in JOE

I am very excited to announce that an article Clyde and I wrote about our IPM game for youth, Pest Private Eye, was published in this month's issue of the Journal of Extension! Read it here!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Pest Private Eye Game Evaluation

Back in October at the Science Cadre in Hastings, NE, I presented about our educational IPM video game, Pest Private Eye. I told the teachers that if any of them would be interested in using the game in their classrooms or working with us on a project to evaluate the game, to let me know. Kristen, a science teacher from Hastings Middle School, seemed very enthusiastic about the idea and expressed interest in doing something with her science club. We arranged to do the project on Feb 16.

A couple weeks before our arrival, I sent Kristen 35 Pest Private Eye games so that her students could play it ahead of time and be ready for discussion.

For the evaluation, Clyde and I prepared a "clicker" test, using Turning Point Technologies, which allows an audience to directly interact with a Powerpoint and answer questions anonymously. We incorporated questions about pests and IPM to determine content knowledge, as well as game playability questions to find out what students thought about the game characters, music, navigation, ease of use, and other technological issues. Kristen also had the students do a written activity about their experiences with the game.

The students were very eager to give their opinions and we had a great discussion! The children seemed to enjoy the game, and from the survey, it was apparent they had learned a lot about IPM. If there were aspects that seemed unclear, we spent time explaining these concepts in more detail.

Thanks to Kristen and her Hastings Middle School Science Clubbers for playing the game and giving us some valuable feedback! These students are the environmental stewards of tomorrow, and can also have an impact now by encouraging their parents, teachers, and peers to use IPM.

Kristen also mentioned that she plans to use the game again in her classroom in the future!We are excited about all the interest in IPM!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Third Visit to Lincoln Public Schools

On Feb 2, in the midst of an icy, cold snow day, we conducted our third visit to our Lincoln demonstration school. Although the kids weren't at school, we had a great turnout of school staff and pest control representatives! First we spent some time talking about the recommendations we had sent after our second visit, then a little about IPM Star Certification. After a short meeting, we did a walkthrough of all the areas that we had discussed in the recommendations.

We were very impressed with the kitchen! Although some deep cleaning, especially of drains, is still needed, there were a lot of areas that showed great improvement. Upon looking at sticky traps, there were far less roaches and other pests then we had seen in the past. Areas that had needed sealing, such as the tray return area, had been caulked, and the bulletin board that had been the harborage for German cockroaches during our last visit had been removed. In addition, the kitchen office now has a "pest sighting" sheet where employees can report sightings and the pest management professional checks and signs off on it when he visits.

A new concern with the school was that we found brown recluse spiders in sticky traps in the boiler room and home ec storage room. We encouraged the head custodian/IPM coordinator to place new traps out to monitor the extent of the problem.

The school is doing a great job! As with OPS, we will give them updated recommendations that outline what still needs to be done to implement IPM in their school and school district. Some general recommendations for both districts are to create/maintain a pest log book, remove and discard pesticides from the school (preferable) or store them only in locked custodial cabinets, continue to monitor with sticky traps, maintain good sanitation practices, and install doorsweeps. Our hope is to have a Star Certification team evaluate both the OPS and LPS school districts at the end of this demonstration project.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Urban Pest Management Conference

On February 7 and 8, the annual Urban Pest Management Conference was held at the Cornhusker Hotel here in Lincoln. Over a dozen of our IPM coalition members, including representatives from industry, health departments, Nebraska Department of Ag, EPA, tribes, school districts, and child care joined us. The conference included presentations about pests, pesticide safety, and IPM as well as open lab sessions that provided a hands on look at common pests. I gave an update about all the IPM projects we have going here in Nebraska, including the coalition and our IPM in Schools program. We also had a demonstration from Spots, the bed bug sniffing dog, who has become somewhat of a local celebrity!

This conference is in its 19th year and provides an educational opportunity for anyone interested in pests and pest management, and recertification for pesticide applicators in structural, fumigation, wood destroying, or public health categories.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

New PSEP Facebook page!

The Pesticide Education Office is on Facebook! Check out our PSEP (Pesticide Safety Education Program) Facebook page for updates on all of our programs, events, and activities pertaining to pesticide safety and IPM!

Please feel free to "Like" our page and tell others about it!