Environmental Health

Eliminate the Pesticides Along With the Pest - Go the Extra Mile

If you’re ready to Go the Extra Mile, we recommend that you develop an IPM (Integrated Pest Management) strategy in your school. We’ll discuss resources that are available to help you on your way to this long-term approach to managing pests, which uses extensive preventative methods along with less-toxic controlling methods. When using IPM, pests’ food and nutrient sources are limited, as well as suitable places for them to house themselves, and routes for them to travel into buildings. For pest problems that arise despite the preventative measures, IPM provides the basis for using the least-toxic and most environmentally-friendly option for eliminating that pest. IPM is not only a strategy, but a full program, and a way of doing things fundamentally different in dealing with pests. It can often be more effective at eliminating pests and more cost effective, saving you money in the long run. Damaged food, structural damage, health concerns, and the price of chemicals are all costly. If an effective IPM program is put in place, it can minimize these costs.

Developing a long-term strategy can also be a great opportunity for your school to earn positive recognition from the community. So, we’ll discuss the ways you can show-off your commitment to eliminating pesticides.

Integrated Pest Management
A good place to start in developing an IPM program for your school is the National School IPM Information Source provided by the University of Florida. This website gives you advice for how to implement the program whether through your janitorial staff or through outside contractors. It gives you tips on where to begin, how to go about the bureaucracy of starting a program, including how to inform the parents, how to approach the school board with plans for implementation, where to find success examples from other schools to help promote your mission, etc. It also provides guidelines for developing workable IPM contracts with service agents, as well as resources for the meat and potatoes of the program and even access to a listserv where you can share helpful tips and ideas about IPM with schools from around the country. Most of the resources on the site are useful even though many of them are catered to the state of Florida specifically. However, if any of them don’t fit for your specific region, the website offers this interactive map where you can click on your state or a state near you, and find information on local IPM programs, organizations, resources, or strategies. There is also the National IPM Toolbox, a page that includes resources relevant to the whole country and even informational videos you can download.

Another good resource for IPM guidance materials is the Bio-Integral Resource Center, which is a home for many resources on managing specific pests, broad strategies, helpful tips, and just about any topic related to running a successful IPM program. Not only is their information written by true professionals, but it is constantly updated and includes the latest and most effective IPM strategies and technologies. The only drawback is that access to the most current volumes of their two major publications is restricted to members. However, the organization has other resources available on the website. And even if you did purchase membership, because it’s a non-profit, the fee ranges between only $60-$100 a year. Click here for an example of one of their guides. Even though the guide is from 2002, you can get a sense of how self-contained and thoroughly helpful the information is.

If you still have trouble finding all the information you need for your IPM program, consider these four links of fact-sheets on managing specific pests from Take Some Action. Many of the fact-sheets offer information relevant to IPM strategies:
Beyond Pesticides: fact-sheets listed by pest name
Beyond Pesticides also has this broader directory
Washington Toxics Coalition: indoor pests
Washington Toxics Coalitions: outdoor pests

If your pest management is done by contractors and you are looking to change contractors to one that uses IPM, then click here and click on your state for a list of area contractors who are likely to use IPM.

Interested in organic lawn-care training for your school officials to help you integrate IPM?
Check out the training available through the National Coalition for Pesticide-Free Lawn’s website.

Make a commitment and show off your accomplishments to the community
Sign the declaration for the National Coalition of Pesticide-Free Lawns. Individuals, schools, whole school districts, and even towns have signed on. For a list of those who have signed on, click here. Saying you’ve signed the declaration and are part of a national movement is great for public relations, but also makes everyone in your school proud. And when people are proud of something, they are more likely to take care of it and do their part to keep it going.

By signing the declaration, your school will go on public record as a school that is committed to operating pesticide-free and gives you a moral obligation to keep it that way. When you sign, you have the option of becoming a member of Beyond Pesticides if you want to and receive their magazine with tips on alternative methods of pest control.

Display a pesticide-free sign on your school lawn !
Once your school commits to pesticide-free lawn care, you can order this sign for $10 from Beyond Pesticides to display your commitment. You can also order door-hangers to hang around school or at staff members’ homes. It will help spread the theme around your community.