Welcome to our Blog!!

Posted on December 16th, 2009 by Sharon Gripp in Announcements

Sitting: Chris, Julie, Kerry, and Garo. Standing: Nick, Mike, Kelly, Bill, Kathy, and Sharon. (Taken 12/2010)

Welcome to the Penn State Pesticide Education Program blog. This is our first attempt at something like this so bear with us. We hope to have a new blog post at least once a week with topics such as: upcoming meetings/events, category specific topics, core topics, highlight someone we work with, promote a great resource, and maybe even have a few guest bloggers.

Using the PaPlants Recertification Course Locator

Posted on October 6th, 2014 by Sharon Gripp in Applicators

That time of year is almost here: winter recertification meeting season! December through March is when the majority of face-to-face recertification credit meetings are held throughout the state. The most comprehensive place to find recertification meetings is the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture’s (PDA) PaPlants website, where all approved recertification meetings are organized. Go to https://www.paplants.state.pa.us (do not forget the “s” in https), highlight “Pesticide Programs” on the left hand side, and then click on “Recertification Course Locator” to search for meetings. Meetings are being added now, so start looking to find the ones that work for your schedule.

Once there, you have several “Meeting Type” options:

  • Onsite: These are your typical face-to-face meetings or sessions offered at conferences.
  • Online: These are courses are taken over the Internet on your computer at your convenience. If you do not have a strong Internet connection, some of these listings are for a CD or DVD that will be mailed to you, and you can play that on your computer. These courses usually charge a small nominal fee—usually between $10 and $50.
  • Correspondence: These are more detailed courses and although you can earn up to 10 category credits, they will take quite a bit longer to complete. Also, the fees for these courses may be well over $100.
  • Webinar: These sessions are a cross between the onsite and online courses. You access the webinar on your computer but they are scheduled for a set date and time. Since the sessions are live, you have an opportunity to interact with the speaker. The fees for these courses are usually nominal.

(Keep in mind that you can only take each Online and Correspondence course ONCE in your lifetime for recertification credits.)

PaPlants Recert Meeting Locator web page

This is a screen shot of the Recertification Course Locator webpage from PaPlants.

The next search item you need to choose is the “Category” in which you need credits. Now, depending on the type of meeting you select, you may or may not have the option of selecting dates and locations. Dates are needed for the Onsite and Webinar meeting types and the default gives you a 3-month time frame, but you can adjust it.

Location is only an option in the Onsite meeting types. Here you probably should select Pennsylvania Only for “State.” This brings up the Region option, which is the seven PDA regions. (Find your region at www.agriculture.state.pa.us, click on About PDA—top link on the left hand side—then look under More Information, and click on “Regional Offices”.) You can also search by “County” but not all counties have meetings in all categories. If your county does not have the meetings you need, you can always check surrounding counties individually or search by your region.

After you select all your search criteria, click on the Search button to see the meetings matching your criteria. Click on the word “Details” in the first column to find more information such as: when and where the meeting is, if you need to pre-register, fees, an agenda, etc.

The one limitation of PaPlants is that once you look at one meeting’s details, you have to click on the Back button and instead of taking you back to the list you just came from, the list is gone and you need to enter in all your search criteria again.

Until next time,
Be Safe!

EPA Recognizes National Farm Safety and Health Week

Posted on September 29th, 2014 by Sharon Gripp in Announcements

National Farm Safety and Health Week was September 21-27. EPA promoted the importance of a safer and healthier agricultural work environment. The 2014 theme was “Safety Counts: Protecting What Matters.” This emphasizes EPA’s efforts to support the health and safety of farmworker communities. The “EPA Recognizes National Farm Safety and Health Week: Supports Safer and Healthier Agricultural Environment” news story highlighted the following items.

Changes to EPA’s Pivotal Farmworker Protection Effort: The Agricultural Worker Protection Standard

In February 2014 EPA announced their proposed significant changes to improve the protection of our nation’s 2 million farmworkers and their families from  pesticide exposure. The changes represent over a decade of extensive stakeholder input, and while the revisions protect workers, they also support agricultural productivity and preserve the traditions of family farms. Read more at EPA’s Proposed Agricultural Worker Protection Standard: EPA Needs Your Input webpage.

Recognition and Management of Pesticide Poisonings cover

Recognition and Management of Pesticide Poisonings cover

Release of the 6th Edition of Recognition and Management of Pesticide Poisonings at No Cost

Through a cooperative agreement with EPA, the Medical University of South Carolina and the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture updated this resource, which provides medical clinicians with emergency and primary care information for treating patients with suspected pesticide-related illnesses. Access chapters in the 6th edition publication.

Free Materials Available to Limit Exposures Around Families

Working through another cooperative agreement with the Association of Farmworker Opportunity Programs (OFOP), EPA has funded resources and trainings for farmworkers on how to stay safer around pesticides. AFOP also teaches farmworker families how to limit their exposure to pesticide residues brought home from work on clothes, tools, boots, and other items through their Project LEAF (Limiting Exposures Around Families) program. Free materials (including flipcharts, magnets, posters, brochures, and even radio messages) are available that feature a fictional farmworker family that must face the challenge of reducing pesticide exposure in their home. Learn more about Project LEAF.

Resource example from Project LEAF.

Resource example from Project LEAF.

Supporting Medical Staff to Provide Quality Healthcare to Farmworkers and Their Families

Another cooperative agreement that EPA funds is with the Migrant Clinicians Network that trains medical staff on how to address pesticide related health concerns of farmworkers and their families. Resources include tools to help properly report suspected pesticides incidents. These pesticide exposure incident reports can help patients get appropriate care and help public health experts identify trends and emerging problems.

For More Information

See a list of Worker Protection Pesticide Safety Materials from the EPA Office of Pesticide Programs.

Until next time,
Be Safe!

September Means Back To School: Educator Resources and The Great Insect Fair

Posted on September 8th, 2014 by Sharon Gripp in Announcements

This blog is written by Kelly Lowery, our education program associate.

September typically means back to school for many students. Last year, our Back to School blog focused on safety around the home with a busier fall schedule. This year, we want to focus a Back to School blog for educators as we share some of our new Pest Management and Pesticide Safety resources. We encourage you to view these resources can be downloaded and used


This summer, we facilitated several comprehensive programs for students in which we:

  • Introduced the definition and examples of pests,
  • Explained the steps of integrated pest management, and
  • Taught the importance of poison safety.

When instructing on the definition and examples of pests, we developed posters for Insect Mouthpieces, Insect Diagram, and Insect Metamorphosis.

The Insect Mouthpieces’ poster shows the chewing, piercing, siphoning, and sponging mouthpieces, which can help students understand that different pests can cause different damage and that different mouthpieces merit different control measures.

Our insect mouthparts poster.

Our insect mouthparts poster.

Protect Yourself from West Nile Virus

Posted on August 18th, 2014 by Sharon Gripp in Applicators, Consumers

2014 Statistics to Date

It’s that time of year again when we start hearing about positive test results for West Nile virus. In Pennsylvania, the West Nile Virus Control Program is the agency that tracts this information. The first mosquito sample that tested positive for West Nile virus (WNV) was reported on May 16 in Dauphin County. Now, over 500 mosquito samples have tested positive for WNV in 34 counties. In July, the first bird tested positive for WNV and in total, six birds in four counties have had positive detections. Finally, Pennsylvania has had 2 West Nile virus detections in humans in Philadelphia and Dauphin counties.

Counties with positive WNV detections as of August 17, 2014.

Come Learn about the Birds and Bees, and Other Pollinators Too!

Posted on August 11th, 2014 by Sharon Gripp in Announcements, Places/Events

This blog was written by Kerry Richards, the Penn State Pesticide Education Program Director.

  • What is a pollinator?
  • Why are they important?
  • What can you do to help protect pollinators?
  • Did you know that one in every three bites of food you eat relies on a pollinator to get from the plant to the table?

The answers to these and other questions about Pollinators can be found be visiting the Penn State Pesticide Education Programs exhibit in the Family Room during Penn State’s Ag Progress Days (APD). This event will be held Tuesday, August 12 through Thursday, August 14, at Rock Springs, Pennsylvania. Instead of our mini-golf course, this year’s games have been designed to help answer important questions about pollinators.

The “Games People Play”

Toss Me Your Birds & Bees This game explains that a pollinator is any insect, animal, or bird that carries pollen from one flower to another helping to carry out the process of pollination. Photos illustrate the diversity of pollinators from bees to bats and in other counties, Blue-tailed Day Gecko and the Two-winged Midge, just to name a few.

Aim, Fire, Pollinate!! Pollination is the transfer of pollen grains from one flower to the stigma of another flower (of the same type). Pollinators physically collect the pollen grains on their body and transfer it to another flower. After pollination occurs, the flower can produce seeds or fruits. If it lands on another part of the flower or plant, pollination will not happen and the fruit will not be produced. This game tests the skill of the “pollinator” to see if their Velcro pollen (shuttlecocks) will land where it will pollinate the flower.

Aim, Fire, Pollinate

Aim, then toss the shuttlecock into the center of the flower to pollinate it.

Got Stink Bugs? Answer a Survey and Get a Free Resource!

Posted on May 19th, 2014 by Sharon Gripp in Announcements

Are you a grower? Got stink bugs? StopBMSB needs your help!

Brown Marmorated Stink Bug. Image by Steven Jacobs.

Brown Marmorated Stink Bug. Image by Steven Jacobs.

The Outreach Team for StopBMSB are surveying growers to assess the impact of the brown marmorated stink bug on crops and collecting information that will help them defeat this pest.

Receive a free Field Guide to Stink Bugs when you complete the 10-minute BMSB survey at https://cornell.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_5ssnjXLNhvp6v1H. But hurry, the survey closes on June 30, 2014.

What is StopBMSB?

With funding from U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Specialty Crop Research Initiative, a team of researchers from 10 institutions across the United States are working together to form a defense against the invasive pest brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB). StopBMSB is working to find management solutions for growers, seeking strategies that will protect our food, our environment, and our farms.

Be sure to visit the StopBMSB website as they have lots great information and resources!

Other BMSB Resources

Pennsylvania BMSB Information, StopBMSB

Brown Marmorated Stink Bug Information, Northeastern IPM Center

Brown Marmorated Stink Bug, Penn State Department of Entomology

Until next time,
Be Safe!

FREE Apps for Pest Management

Posted on May 5th, 2014 by Andrew Frankenfield in Applicators, General

The following information was provided to us from Andrew Frankenfield, a Penn State Extension Educator from Montgomery County. (Sharon Gripp added links and logos.)

Tank Mix Calculator logoTank Mix Calculator for iPhone + Android

This agriculture application is provided free for any farmer to use on their mobile device to quickly and easily generate a tank mix. Just enter your acreage, tank size, and carrier volume. Next, select your chemicals from our list or add your own. Tank Mix Calculator will then provide you with the number of loads required to spray your acreage, along with full and partial load mixes of the chemicals you selected.

TankMix App for iPhone onlyTankMix App logo

The DuPont TankMix Calculator Application lets you quickly and easily calculate how much product and water you need for effective applications based on your acreage or spray tank size. Choose from a wide selection of units of measure and work in either numerals or fractions.

Private Applicators: Know Your Neighbors

Posted on April 28th, 2014 by Dave Scott in Applicators

This blog was written by Dave Scott, Chief of the Division of Health and Safety in the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture. This article also appeared in the January 2014 Pesticide Highlights newsletter.

Every year the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture receives pesticide related complaints – ranging from herbicide drift or misapplication to medical reactions to exposure – from people who live near areas where growers are applying pesticides. As an applicator, it is your responsibility to make sure you are using pesticides safely, and that means being aware of your neighbors.

The Department maintains a list of people who have provided medical verification of a sensitivity to pesticides. This list can be viewed online by PaPlants registered users under the “Programs” heading in the Hypersensitivity/Apiary Search” at https://www.PaPlants.state.pa.us. You can type in an address and see a listing of these individuals located within 5 miles of that location, or select your county and township for a larger area. Consider notifying individuals in the Hypersensitivity Registry before you apply any pesticides.

The Air Blast Sprayer Calibration Program Continues

Posted on April 21st, 2014 by Sharon Gripp in Announcements, Applicators

The Penn State Pesticide Education Program is excited to again offer boom sprayer and air blast sprayer calibrations for Pennsylvania growers who request them. Calibration of air blast sprayer (ABS) and boom sprayer equipment is the best way to ensure spray applications are effective, efficient, and economical. Poor spray coverage is the primary cause of reduced spray product performance. Regular care and maintenance will ensure the sprayer is residue-free and in good operating condition. The challenge with ABS calibration is accurately and efficiently collecting and comparing nozzle output.

An air blast sprayer demonstration.

An air blast sprayer demonstration.

Once Again, Master Gardeners Help Spread Poison Prevention Message

Posted on April 14th, 2014 by Kelly Over in Consumers, Places/Events

Kelly Over, our Educational Program Associate, wrote this follow-up blog about Poison Prevention Week. Kelly provides pesticide safety presentations and educational materials to Pennsylvania agricultural teachers and participates in our many consumer outreach events.

While our Pesticide Education Program teaches poison safety all year, this past month has been an especially important time for our poison prevention outreach as National Poison Prevention Week was in March. In 2014, we reached 12,000 students in 30 counties around the Commonwealth with our poison prevention program!  Our poison prevention efforts were recently highlighted in a Penn State News Story.

Our Pesticide Education Program staff delivered poison prevention programs to nearly 500 students in the Philadelphia School District. Our staff also presented programs in cooperation with intermediate units in Chester County and Philadelphia County, in which both parents and students heard the poison safety message. Since English might not have been the primary language used in the home, appropriate adaptations and translations were used to teach participants about the importance of identifying signal words, using Mr. Yuk, and knowing what do in case of an accidental poisoning.

We discussed signal words and Mr. Yuk with first grade students in the Philadelphia School District.

We discussed signal words and Mr. Yuk with first grade students in the Philadelphia School District.