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.

Spanish Pesticide Safety Education for Underserved Populations

Posted on February 23rd, 2015 by Hector Nunez-Contreras in General

This blog is written by Hector Nunez-Contreras who is our program’s bilingual Program Associate Educator.

The Pesticide Education Program, with support from the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, has added a Spanish curriculum to our education efforts. This is an ongoing task with the objective of offering the majority of our training materials in Spanish. The opportunity arose from the dire need to educate an underserved population in urban areas as well as in agriculture.

Hector doing a presentation in Spanish.

Hector doing a presentation in Spanish.

Another Spanish presentation title slide.

Another Spanish presentation title slide.

Hector Nunez-Contreras started working full time with our program in April of 2014, as a bilingual Program Associate Educator. Originally from Mexico, he graduated with a degree at the University of Guanajuato, Mexico, and another degree at Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania. He has been working with many different groups of agricultural workers whose first language is Spanish, mostly in the Orchard industry with the Penn State Extension Fruit Team in Adams County and the Mushroom industry with the American Mushroom Institute in Chester County. Hector has also worked with the Migrant Education Program from the Intermediate Unit to offer our Poison Prevention Program to help keep children and pets safe from accidental exposures in the household.

His long list of current projects includes: uploading educational games in Spanish and English to our website, translating our PowerPoint presentations for the website’s library, translating articles of interest for our program, and subtitling our YouTube channel videos. This is on top of offering pesticide recertification courses and other training sessions across the state.

The Symposium of Plant Parasitology

This photo was taken at The Symposium of Plant Parasitology in Guanajuato, Mexico. Hector Nunez-Contreras and Kerry Richards, the Pesticide Education Program Director, were invited to present a pesticide safety topic in a concurrent English and Spanish session. In the photo, Hector and Kerry are joined by representatives of the State Committee for Vegetable Safety of Guanajuato; Agrochemicals Rivas; and the Association of Agronomic Parasitology.

If you know of areas of Pennsylvania that need assistance in this Spanish Education effort, please contact him at nunez@psu.edu.

Until next time,
Be Safe!

New Staff at the Penn State Pesticide Education Program

Posted on February 9th, 2015 by Sharon Gripp in Announcements, General

We are very excited to introduce two new staff members of the Penn State Pesticide Education Program. Ed Crow started with us in August as a wage-payroll employee, and Eric Denemark just started as full-time employee 2 weeks ago.

Eric Denemark

Eric Denemark

Ed Crow

Ed Crow

Ed Crow

Ed brings a regulatory perspective to our program as a regulatory education specialist. Before joining our staff, Ed was with the Maryland Department of Agriculture’s Pesticide Regulation Section where he was responsible for the Pesticide Licensing, Certification, and Training part of the program. He also was responsible for coordinating the IPM program for schools and before that, he was a regional pesticide inspector.

Ed will be working on category manual revisions and creating examination question banks. He will also be helping with training by doing recertification meetings and the initial training of applicators preparing to take the certification exams.

In his spare time Ed enjoys fishing, particularly fly fishing, fly tying, photography, and wood working. And Ed is a Penn State graduate!

Eric Denemark

Eric is originally from Newark, Delaware. He studied entomology at Cornell University and Texas A&M. After receiving his Master’s Degree, he found employment with a commercial pest control company in Seattle, Washington. Eric transferred to the Willamette Valley in Oregon to provide pest control services mainly to food processing facilities and large grass seed warehouses and was subsequently promoted to Operations Manager.

Eric and his wife left Oregon in 2014 to pursue a once in a lifetime opportunity to attempt to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail, which they did! After the Appalachian Trail, Eric joined the Penn State Pesticide Education Program. Eric’s goal is to become an expert in pesticide use and safety, and help to develop and deliver educational programs that address today’s priority pesticide use concerns. Eric has a hobby of home fermenting beer and kefir soda. Eric and his wife still intend to go backpacking and they hope their next adventure will take them to a landscape with wild wolves.

Until next time,
Be Safe!

Upcoming Major Events for the Penn State Pesticide Education Program

Posted on January 26th, 2015 by Sharon Gripp in Announcements, General

After a fast start to 2015–staffing our Pennsylvania Farm Show exhibit–we thought we would try to list some of the major events that our program will be participating in throughout 2015. We hope that we have a stop near you so that you can come see us and hear our pesticide safety message. You will have a lot of dates and places to choose from and we hope we saw some of you already at Farm Show!

March through November:

County Household Hazardous Waste Collections

Throughout the year, many counties offer Household Hazardous Waste Collection sites where residents of that county can take certain products to be disposed of properly. Some counties have teamed up with the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture’s CHEMSWEEP Program to also collect pesticides. The link above lists the county events and should include more details about what you can bring. More events will be added in the coming months, so if your county isn’t on the list yet, be sure to check back.

March 7:

Whitaker Center (222 Market Street, Harrisburg, PA 17101)

Our program will have several pesticide safety areas located throughout the center to highlight some important pesticide safety messages for the entire family.

March 15-21:

Poison Prevention Week (classrooms all throughout Pennsylvania)

Our program works cooperatively with the Master Gardener Program to provide a pesticide safety educational message to participating 1st grade classrooms across the state. This year, the message will be taken to 29 counties in 147 schools (495 classrooms) reaching almost 14,000 children. Our program provides each child with take home materials including a letter to their parents/guardians explaining the message they heard at school, some fun activities, and Mr. Yuk stickers.  Essentially, this program not only reaches the students but also adults at home, further increasing our reach with important pesticide safety messages.

April 18:

Garden and Landscape Symposium of Western Pennsylvania (Shady Side Academy, 423 Fox Chapel Road, Pittsburgh, PA, 15238)

This is the 20th anniversary of the  premiere horticultural event featuring experts from all over the country who will give in-depth presentations on their field of expertise.

April (Exact date not set yet):

Earth Day along the Susquehanna River (Nesbitt Park, Kingston, PA)

This is an event where school classrooms come and learn about water quality, wildlife, recycling,  take a nature walk, and much more at Nesbitt and Kirby park in Wilkes-Barre. Fun fact: For as many years as we have been participating in this event, last year was the first year we actually found it on our first try!

July 4:

Central PA 4th Fest (127 Bryce Jordan Center, University Park, PA 16802)

We give out Mr. Yuk stickers after visitors “putt” through our mini-golf holes.

August 3-6:

Pesticide Applicator Certification and Training Workshop (Philadelphia, PA)

Our office is helping to host this national workshop that brings together state pesticide regulators, pesticide safety educators, federal regulators, private enterprises, and other interested parties.

August 18-20:

Ag Progress Days (2710 W. Pine Grove Rd, Pennsylvania Furnace, PA 16865)

Come find us in the Family Room. We will be working on a new theme to showcase at this event! There is something for everyone at this huge outside agricultural event.

Find Out What is Going on in Your County:

Penn State Extension Event Calendars

Click on the above link to find your county. Then click on the EVENTS tab on the left hand side to see events that are in your county and surrounding counties. This is a great way to find what all Penn State Extension has to offer!

Follow Us on Social Media!

We have an active Facebook and Twitter account that you can also follow to find out what we are doing and get some bits of information about pesticide safety! Check them out to see what we did at Farm Show earlier in the month!

Until next time,
Be Safe!

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year…

Posted on December 22nd, 2014 by Nick Richards in Announcements, Places/Events

It’s December, so the best holiday is right around the corner! Oh, you know the one, The Pennsylvania Farm Show is happening January 10th through January 17th, 2015! For the 99th time, this eight-day long festival will draw thousands of visitors to interact with the agricultural industry. Admission is absolutely FREE; however, you will need to pay to park. View the complete Farm show schedule, map, and details for more information.

In order to celebrate this wonderful event, the Penn State Pesticide Education Program will once again be partnering with Master Gardener volunteers to reach the thousands of children and parents that enjoy The Pennsylvania Farm Show every year. Our exhibit this year will highlight pollinators, their importance, and how we can protect them. Children (and we know some adults) will play interactive games in order to learn about pollinators.

Be a Pollinator Protector…

Toss Me Your Birds & Bees

In this game, we learn that a pollinator is any insect, animal, or bird that carries pollen from one flower to another. This helps the pollination process, which allows flowers and other plants to grow, in turn creating food for us to consume. This game is similar to the corn hole games that are popular at football tailgates.

Aim, Fire, Pollinate!

Pollination is the transfer of pollen from one flower to the stigma of another flower of the same type (daisy to daisy for example). Pollinators collect the pollen grains on their body and transfer those grains by landing on the flower. This process helps with fertilization and reproduction. Pollination occurs in the stigma (the center) of the flower; if the pollinator does not come in contact with the stigma then pollination does not occur. In this game participants will toss the pollen (a shuttlecock with Velcro) onto a flower to achieve pollination.

Flower Game

In this game, you aim, then toss the shuttlecock into the center of the flower to pollinate it.

Dishwasher and Detergent Pods: Continuing Concerns About Accidental Poisonings

Posted on December 8th, 2014 by Kelly Over in Announcements

Kelly Over, our Education Program Assistant, wrote this blog.

Pod Example

Here is an example of dish detergent pods.

Dishwasher and detergent pods are a conveniently packaged option that can result in less waste and greater product efficiency than its traditional counterparts. While the pods, or also referred to as packs, might provide a solution for homeowners, parents and family members should be conscious of the potential accidental poisoning, especially as the pods and packs contain a highly concentrated amount of product.

In our previous Be Safe with Dishwasher and Detergent Pods blog, we discussed the similar appearance of pods and packs with candy, as well as tips for how to keep your family safe. A recent research report and news stories have brought detergent and dishwasher pod and packs back to attention.

CHEMSWEEP in 18 Counties This Year!

Posted on November 24th, 2014 by Sharon Gripp in Announcements, Applicators

The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture is again offering the CHEMSWEEP Program to those agricultural businesses and pesticide applicators in the selected 18 counties. The program is available in different counties each year and the 2015 counties include: Bucks, Crawford, Dauphin, Erie, Fayette, Greene, Huntingdon, Juniata, Lycoming, Mercer, Mifflin, Montgomery, Perry, Philadelphia, Susquehanna, Tioga, Wayne, and Westmoreland.



Agriculture Secretary George Greig said,

“Pesticides can be a problem when they outlive their usefulness, sitting in barns and sheds and becoming hazardous to the environment and to your safety. Thanks to CHEMSWEEP, it’s easier for our agriculture industry to safeguard our environment and properly dispose of pesticides.”

Since CHEMSWEEP was established in 1993, nearly 2.3 million pounds of unwanted or unusable pesticides have been properly destroyed through the program. What a great program for the environment!

A New Invasive Insect: The Spotted Lanternfly

Posted on November 17th, 2014 by Ed Crow in Announcements, General

This blog article was put together by our newest part-time staff member, Ed Crow. Although Ed is officially retired from the Maryland Department of Agriculture, he still wanted to remain active helping pesticide applicators.

An adult Spotted Lanternfly

An adult Spotted Lanternfly (Photograph by Holly Raguza, PA Dept of Agriculture)

An adult Spotted Lanternfly

An adult Spotted Lanternfly (Photograph by Lawrence Barringer, PA Dept of Agriculture)

The presence of a new invasive insect to the United States, the  Spotted Lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula (WHITE)), was recently confirmed in Berks County by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (PDA) in cooperation with the Pennsylvania Game Commission in September. The Spotted Lanternfly is a planthopper that is native to China, India, Japan, Vietnam, and introduced into Korea as an invasive pest in 2006. In these countries it has attacked 25 plant species that are also found in Pennsylvania including grapes, apples, pines, and stone fruits. The Tree of Heaven also serves as a host for this pest. This insect has the potential to significantly impact these commodities along with the forestry industry. PDA Secretary Greig stated,

“Since this is new to the country we are taking every precaution possible. We need to do everything we can to stop the spread of the Spotted Lanternfly.”

Let Me Introduce Our Staff Once Again

Posted on November 3rd, 2014 by Sharon Gripp in Announcements

Well, it has been quite a while that we have updated our readers about who is on staff at the Penn State Pesticide Education Program. I also realized that we needed to update our staff photos. However, getting us all together in one place can be quite the challenge! In a future blog, we will share some of the projects that keep our office busy throughout the year. Also, we want to introduce all our part-time and intern staff, who play a big role in our program’s success. And when you see us out and about, please stop and say HELLO as we would love to hear from you!

Kerry Richards, Penn State Pesticide Education Program DirectorIn April 2011, Dr. Kerry Richards was named our director after serving as the interim director for two years. Kerry will celebrate 25 years at Penn State this year, and all of those years have been in various capacities within our program. Besides presenting during the winter meeting season circuit, Kerry has been focusing her efforts on starting a Spanish worker training program and an air blast sprayer calibration training program. In the last year, she worked to organize a team to do on-site air blast and boom sprayer calibrations at growers’ properties throughout the state. We joke with Kerry that she would have an awesome Twitter following (including her staff): Where in the state/country/world is Kerry today? Kerry loves to travel mostly to visit grandchildren in southeast PA but she also travels frequently for work, doing recert meetings, promoting our program at national conferences, and introducing pesticide safety concepts in Mexico. In her spare time, she can tell you about all her Thrift Shop and Goodwill adventures.

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.

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.