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Community IPM Program Progress Report

Community IPM Program Meets the Need

Presenting you with the first progress report of the Community IPM Program at Cornell gives us great pleasure. Growing public concerns about the fate of pesticides in homes, schools, workplaces, and public settings has created an unprecedented demand for integrated pest management education in community settings. State and local governments continue to wrestle with legislation about the use of pesticides, in some cases eliminating pesticides on public properties. With limited funds, we have responded to growing requests for education by beginning to develop programs people can depend on. Such educational programs have the potential to eliminate not only pest populations, but also the potential risks associated with pest management.

With a core group of Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) field staff and faculty, we have forged a vision of what Community IPM could be. Our goal is to create an educational outreach program for nonagricultural audiences that is as successful as New York State’s agricultural IPM program. And we are well on our way.

As this report shows, in the past two years we have focused on IPM for schools. One reason is that in 1993, 87% of New York schools used pesticides, with at least 50 different active pesticidal ingredients being applied to school buildings and grounds around the state. The children in these schools are particularly vulnerable to unnecessary and misapplied pesticides, and we need to be reducing their risk of exposure to the lowest level possible.

Schools tie in well with our central mission, which is "to educate and encourage public and private sectors to manage pests by using a combination of methods that pose minimal risk to human health, are environmentally sound, and attain aesthetic quality."

We take the role of educating seriously, and it occurs on many levels. For example, industry is developing alternatives to pesticides, and one of our jobs is to teach Extension educators and others how to integrate these new technologies into pest management programs. Or in a school setting, we might work with coaches, grounds managers, students, parents, and administrators to develop an IPM program for athletic fields.

One of New York’s greatest environmental challenges for the coming decade will be how to educate homeowners about pests and the "integrated" ways to manage them. Homeowners have access to a large array of pesticides but have little or no training in the use of these chemicals or potential negative effects on human health and the environment. Developing sound alternative methods and reaching homeowners with this information is critical.

The Cornell IPM Program recently documented how New York farmers who consult CCE or participate in Extension-sponsored IPM programs adopt more IPM practices than do farmers who have not consulted CCE. Similarly, we believe that hands-on education in Community IPM, if we had the means to accomplish it, will spell greater adoption of IPM principles and benefits to the environment.

New York State and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences have invested in agricultural IPM for more than a decade. Isn’t it time that we invested in Community IPM?

jim tette's signature

James P. Tette, Director
Cornell IPM Program

rod ferrentino's signature

Gerard Ferrentino, Coordinator
Community IPM Program