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Extension-Led Effort Helps Reduce Pesticide Risks in Schools
South Dakota Ag Connection - 04/04/2011

The South Dakota Cooperative Extension Service played an important role in instituting a new program designed to reduce pesticide risks in U.S. schools.

Using grant funds from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Institute of North America, Inc. developed a project entitled "Integrated Pest Management in All U.S. Schools by 2015."

The South Dakota Cooperative Extension Service worked with Iowa State University Extension and the IPM Institute to introduce school IPM programs to pilot school districts in South Dakota. The Institute's goals include a 70-percent reduction in pesticide use in all U.S. public schools, resulting in a reduction in pest and pesticide-related risks to children by the year 2015. Certain pests and pest-management techniques can affect long-term student health, performance, and school attendance.

Schools that adopt IPM have less pesticide residues, fewer pest problems, and lower pest-related allergens. As of 2002, 33 states had rules specifically addressing pesticide use in, around, or near schools. An increasing number of states have laws mandating IPM programs in their public schools. Currently South Dakota has not adopted an IPM approach to pest management, so it would be a new concept to many school districts in the state.

The South Dakota Cooperative Extension Service has initiated a program to help schools become familiar with the "School IPM" concept. In the fall of 2008, Extension IPM and Pesticide Applicator Training Programs along with Extension personnel from Iowa State University and the University of Nebraska Extension initiated a school IPM pilot project in South Dakota.

The South Dakota Cooperative Extension IPM program identified two representative school districts in the state to conduct the "School IPM" pilot project, Flandreau Public School and the Brookings Elementary Schools. During the project, 175 school staff including teachers, custodians, kitchen staff, and administrators were trained in integrated pest management approaches to prevent pests entering schools, reduce pesticide use in the school, properly store pesticides, and correctly identify pests, including insects, weeds, rodents, birds, and others.

Extension IPM staff conducted four walk-through assessments of the school building and grounds were conducted by the IPM team which included IPM staff from South Dakota State University, Iowa State University, University of Nebraska, along with school-hired pest control company representatives. Preventative measures to decrease pest introductions and habitat were adopted including replacing door sweeps, removal of cardboard storage in storage rooms, repairing of pest access points in buildings, removal of pesticides of concern, and creating proper spaces for storage of other pesticides and toxicants.

Both schools have adopted monitoring programs for pests within the school structure using pest sticky traps, and both schools eliminated general pesticide applications within the school structure and have initiated applications only when pests have been monitored. A school IPM demonstration day was held at Flandreau Public School on Feb. 11 to explain school IPM and recognize the successful completion of the project by the Flandreau Public Schools and Brookings Public Schools.

The partners who made up the effort include Brookings Public Schools, Flandreau Public School, commercial pest control operators, Iowa State University Extension, University of Nebraska Extension, the South Dakota Cooperative Extension IPM Program, the SDSU Pesticide Applicator Education Program, and Brookings County Extension.

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