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.

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.

Examples of products around the home with signal words

At the parent meeting in Philadelphia, we showed examples of products around the home that have signal words.

Students learn about pests around the home and IPM.

During the program, students learn about pests around the home and integrated pest management.

Master Gardeners: A BIG Part of Our Successful Outreach

One of our many wonderful volunteers.

We are grateful to have many wonderful volunteers to teach poison safety at outreach events.

While our Pesticide Education Program staff does present programs, the ability for 12,000 students to receive the message about poison safety is the result of collaborative efforts amongst several groups. We rely heavily on Penn State Extension Master Gardeners to serve as the grassroots ambassadors to deliver the poison prevention message to students in their local schools in respective counties. This year, 26 county groups of Pennsylvania Master Gardeners facilitated programs. The involvement of Master Gardeners with the Poison Prevention Program is shared in this story which features the growth of the program and included components in the lesson.

Lycoming County Master Gardeners

Lycoming County Master Gardeners taught first graders the importance of poison safety in their home.

Lycoming County Master Gardeners

During Poison Prevention Programs, Lycoming County Master Gardeners taught first graders the importance of poison safety.

Lycoming County Master Gardeners

We are grateful for the partnership with the Master Gardeners in facilitating this program.

High School Students Also Share the Program

Several high school agricultural science departments also do poison prevention programs. As the students organize the program, learn the lesson, and then deliver the program, high school students gain the experience of being a teacher while elementary students benefit from learning about poison safety.

We Thank Our Volunteers and Welcome Their Ideas

As National Volunteer Week was April 6-12, it is quite fitting that we offer a huge THANK YOU to our Pennsylvania Master Gardeners and all other volunteers for assisting in the delivery of the Poison Prevention Program! We are so appreciative of the energy and enthusiasm of all volunteers, for the Poison Prevention Program, but also for many other outreach events throughout the year. We are grateful for your knowledge, dedication, and creativity. Several of our educational outreach tools are the result of Master Gardeners! The Hazard House, which provides an excellent visual for poison safety around the home, was developed by a Master Gardener. The popular pollinator theme for the mini golf course was first shared by a Master Gardener group!

Availability of Poison Prevention Program Materials

Poison Prevention Program resources are always available on our website, including our lesson objectives, lesson plan,  and items for the student take-home packet. The Parent Homework, translated in both English and Spanish, is an especially valuable resource as it instructs parents to search their home for products, identify signal words, reflect on current storage of product (is it above 5 feet or in a locked cabinet), and use Mr. Yuk stickers to alert of potentially hazardous household products. Remember, you can always request Mr. Yuk stickers from our office. Poison safety should be a priority in every home; we hope our poison prevention program resources can assist you in those efforts!

Homework in Spanish

Parents are to locate household products, identify the signal word, put Mr. Yuk on the product, and evaluate the product’s storage.

Survey in English

The homework sheet and this parent survey are available in both English and Spanish on our website to download and print.

Until next time,
Be Safe!

Spring is Here; Get Ready for HHW Events!

Posted on April 3rd, 2014 by Sharon Gripp in Announcements, Consumers

In our January blogs, we talked about two waste disposal programs that are available in Pennsylvania: Household Hazardous Waste Program: Plan to Use It in 2014 and Some Changes for the CHEMSWEEP Program. Besides being great programs on their own, sometimes these two programs partner together. At these events, the CHEMSWEEP Program accepts all the pesticide products and assures their proper disposal. By doing this, the HHW program can accept more products and does not have to cover the pesticide disposal costs.

To participant in either program, you need to be a resident of the county where the event is being held. If you do not see your county on the list, other stand-alone HHW events will be held throughout the state–just check the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s HHW Collection Programs website. Check back because more events will most likely be added in the coming months.

The dates for the combined HHW and CHEMSWEEP events have been set and the first one is this month! NOTE: See table below for the HHW and CHEMSWEEP combination event date, county, and location. Be sure to watch your local newspaper closer to the date for more information such as specific times and precisely what products/materials will be accepted. Some items will not be accepted!

So with the warmer weather coming, be sure to take a good look around your basement, garage, storage shed, etc. and find the hazardous materials that you no longer have any use for now. However, be sure to verify that the items you want to get rid of can be taken to the HHW event. Each event has their own requirements on what they will or will not accept. Click on the county names in the table below to find more details (if available) about that event. Be sure to mark your calendar, and make it a priority to take your hazardous materials to your county’s HHW event (if your county is not listed below, check here for complete list of HHW events). Not only will you make your home safer, but you lessen the risk for an accidental spill that could harm your family, pets, and the environment.


County Website and Flyers (if available)


April 19, 2014 Berks County
Solid Waste Authority website
HHW flyer
Governor Mifflin Intermediate School
600 Governor Drive
Shillington, PA
May 2-3, 2014 Centre County
Recycling and Refuse Authority website
HHW flyer
Centre County SWA Transfer Station Complex
253 Transfer Road
Bellefonte, PA
May 31, 2014 Northampton County

Click for full size

Northampton Community College
Main Campus Parking Lot
3835 Green Pond Road
Bethlehem, PA
June 28, 2014 Bradford County
NTSWA HHW Recycling website
Northern Tier Solid Waste Authority (NTSWA)
Landfill #2, West Burlington Township
Burlington, PA
July 12, 2014 Blair County People’s Natural Gas Field
1000 Park Ave
Altoona, PA
September 27, 2014 Bedford County Bedford County Fairgrounds
108 Telegraph Rd
Bedford, PA
September 27, 2014 Fulton County To be announced
September 27, 2014 Huntingdon County Huntingdon County Fairgrounds
10455 Fairgrounds Access Road
Huntingdon, PA
October 4, 2014 Westmoreland County
HHW Flyer
Westmoreland County Community College
145 Pavilion Lane, Parking Lot B
Youngwood, PA
October 11, 2014 Northampton County
See above flyer for May 31, 2014
Northampton Community College
Main Campus Parking Lot
3835 Green Pond Road
Bethlehem, PA
October 18, 2014 Berks County
Solid Waste Authority website
HHW flyer
First Energy Stadium
1900 Centre Ave
Reading, PA

Until Next Time,
Be Safe!

2014 National Poison Prevention Week

Posted on March 20th, 2014 by Kelly Over in Consumers, General

Kelly Over, our Educational Program Associate, wrote this 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.

It’s National Poison Prevention Week 2014! From March 16th-22nd, Poison Prevention Week is the time to evaluate the poison prevention practices in your home and be sure you know what to do in case of a poison emergency.

While we emphasize the importance of poison safety all year, we are excited to take the opportunity of Poison Prevention Week for a two-part blog series. In a future blog, we will highlight our Poison Prevention Program, which is being delivered to nearly 12,000 first grade students across Pennsylvania with the help of many educators, including Master Gardner volunteers. This week, we want to share several key poison safety messages.

Mr. Yuk Needs Your Help

Posted on March 17th, 2014 by Sharon Gripp in Consumers, General

This May 3, 2013 article by Dr. Michael J. Lynch is reprinted with permission. Kerry Richards and Julie Watson from our office took a road trip last week to meet with several people from the Pittsburgh Poison Center. This was an article that was shared with them and we thought it fit perfectly as a blog to kick off Poison Prevention Week. (Please note that we added the headings to break up the text.)

By Dr. Michael J. Lynch, medical director of the Pittsburgh Poison Center (www.upmc.com/services/poison-center).

As the parent of three children ages 6 and under, I am constantly vigilant of the dangers that surround them daily. Among the risks our kids face is exposure to toxic chemicals and to prescription and over-the-counter medications. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control, accidental drug overdoses have surpassed motor vehicle crashes as the leading cause of accidental death in the United States.

While parents seek most of all to prevent poisoning and exposure to toxins, we also must prepare to respond when problems occur. We keep phone numbers for police, fire and ambulance services easily accessible. Another resource for residents of Western Pennsylvania is the Pittsburgh Poison Center. The familiar face of Mr. Yuk may even stare back at you from your refrigerator, containers of poisonous household supplies or the bulletin board at your pediatrician’s office.

March and April 2014 Pesticide Applicator Short Courses

Posted on February 25th, 2014 by Sharon Gripp in Announcements, Applicators

Pesticides are often a necessary tool to control pests on lawns and landscapes. In some instances, a homeowner may feel comfortable dealing with the pest situation on their own. Often times, a problem presents itself in the landscape in which a professional is needed to correct the pest problem. On those occasions, the professional may apply a pesticide.

Pennsylvania’s Pesticide Control Act of 1973 requires any individual who applies a pesticide application to a property not owned or rented by the applicator or their employer to have a commercial or public pesticide applicator certification. Not only should landscapers be licensed but also other professionals who apply pesticides in the landscape. Other professionals include state park employees and grounds supervisors of schools, athletic fields, and golf courses.

Categories Covered in the Short Course

To become certified, applicators must undergo testing to demonstrate that they are competent to handle and use pesticides. A few courses are available each year to help applicators prepare to take these certification exams. Penn State Extension is offering two Pesticide Applicator Short Courses in Clinton and Luzerne counties to assist green industry professionals in preparing for the following Pesticide Applicator Certification Exams:

  • CORE
  • Category 06: Ornamental and Shade Trees
  • Category 07: Lawn and Turf
  • Category 23: Parks and Schools Pest Control

Penn State’s Online Recert Credits Are For Everyone!

Posted on February 17th, 2014 by Sharon Gripp in Applicators

This blog idea was given to us by J. Craig Williams, a Penn State Extension Educator in Tioga county.

While on the road doing winter recertification meetings, J. Craig Williams, a Penn State extension educator in Tioga county, received a call from a farmer who needed one more CORE recertification credit but had conflicts attending the upcoming meetings in his area, Tioga county. Williams told the farmer he could take an online course to meet his credit requirement. Although the farmer needed a little help registering and paying, as this was his first-ever online course, Williams did receive an email from the farmer saying he enjoyed the “Emergency and Incident Response” course and sent the following photo of himself with his completion certificate. We just want to tell this farmer: Thanks for the feedback and Job well done!

First-time ever online customer shows off his earned Completion Certificate.

Need Pesticide Recertification Credits? Try Some Online Courses!

Posted on February 10th, 2014 by Sharon Gripp in Applicators

With private applicator renewals coming up at the end of March, do you need some last minute recertification credits? We have some options to help you meet your requirements.

New Online Interactive Courses

The Penn State Pesticide Education Program has been working with two county extension educators (Tom Butzler and Nancy Bosold) to bring some recertification courses to life ONLINE. Since June 2013, we have posted 6 new interactive recertification courses. Each of the courses correspond to a chapter in the Core Manual. The titles of the courses are:

  • Pest Management (chapter 1)
  • Pesticide Labeling (chapter 3)
  • Pesticide Formulations (chapter 4)
  • Transportation, Storage, and Security (chapter 8 )
  • Emergency or Incident Response (chapter 9)
  • Planning the Pesticide Application (chapter 10)

Each course is about 30 minutes long, costs $20, and is worth 1 CORE recertification credit.  The exception is the Pest Management course, which is 60 minutes, costs $35, and is worth 2 CORE recertification credits.

PA Department of Agriculture Inspectors Honored by EPA

Posted on February 3rd, 2014 by Sharon Gripp in General

The following article was taken from our January 2014 annual Pesticide Highlights newsletter for Private Applicators.

Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture inspectors were recently honored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for their outstanding work to protect the state’s plant industries.

EPA Region III (representing Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, the District of Columbia, and Pennsylvania) gives two annual awards: “Inspection of the Year” and “Inspector of the Year.” These awards were initiated by EPA in the mid 90’s to honor inspectors from EPA Region III for going “above and beyond” their normal duties supporting the pesticide program in the protection of people and the environment.

Ricky Butz, Lenny Brylewski, and Blair Hower receive top awards at the 2013 EPA Inspector Workshop in Delaware.

Household Hazardous Waste Program: Plan to Use It in 2014

Posted on January 27th, 2014 by Sharon Gripp in Consumers

The Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) Program provides a safe way to dispose of products that are hazardous in nature but are not regulated as hazardous waste under state and federal regulations. So what kind of wastes are we talking about? Products such as old paint and paint related products, pesticides, pool chemicals, drain cleaners, degreasers, and car care products.

As stated on the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) website, Pennsylvania produces about 25,000 tons of HHW each year! And that’s about 4 pounds per person! So, it is easy to believe that if we don’t properly dispose of these types of hazardous wastes, it can and does create environmental and public health issues.

Visitors Enjoyed Farm Show Despite Cold Temps Outside

Posted on January 20th, 2014 by Kerry Richards in Consumers, Places/Events

Kerry Richards, the Pesticide Education Program Director, wrote the following blog about our exhibit at Farm Show.

As the temperatures dipped, so did attendance at the 98th annual Pennsylvania Farm Show. However, over 9,000 participants still visited the Pesticide Education Program’s mini-golf course. Over the eight-day duration of the Farm Show, the thousands of visitors that golfed through the course learned how to “Protect Yourself from Indoor Insect Pests.”

Going through the Course

At Hole 1, Master Gardener volunteers identified house flies, cat fleas (which also get on dogs), and German cockroaches as three of the most common indoor pests that can transmit disease. At Hole 2, golfers learned that vacuuming, caulking holes, and keeping rooms clean and free of crumbs and food can reduce the presence of these pests. Chemical options to control these pests were shown to golfers at Hole 3. As always, the chemical control options also came with the reminder to put Mr. Yuk stickers on any products with a Caution, Warning, Danger, and Danger Poison signal word.