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New Mexico State University

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NMSU to hold plant disease, pest first-detector training in Las Cruces

New Mexico State University's Cooperative Extension Service is offering a first detector training course to help home gardeners, as well as plant professionals, detect pest and disease outbreaks.

The class will be Thursday, March 1, at the Thomas Branigan Memorial Library, 200 E. Picacho Ave., Las Cruces. The four-hour first-detector training will be from 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m., with a two-hour continuing education course from 1:30-3:30 p.m. This training will also be available live online via CENTRA. Lunch will not be provided.

"This training is important not only for professionals, but for homeowners who work with plants and plant material on a consistent basis," said Jason French, NMSU plant diagnostic clinician. French is the training coordinator of the course, which is designed for Master Gardeners, pest control operators, agricultural producers and the general public.

"This training is part of the National Plant Diagnostic Network's education and training program," said Natalie Goldberg, NMSU extension plant pathologist, who will teach the art and science of diagnosing plant disorders, high-risk diseases and how to submit samples to NMSU's plant diagnostic clinic. "Participants who attend the training will become certified first detectors and added to a national registry of trained first detectors."

Current certified first detectors will have the opportunity to participate in continuing education courses in the afternoon session on high risk and exotic weeds and arthropod pests.

"It is important for those wanting to receive this training to enroll now, because there won't be another opportunity for this training until 2013," French said.

There is no charge for the training, which is funded by New Mexico State University, the National Plant Diagnostic Network, the Southwest Border Food Safety and Defense Center and Agroguard, a program of the New Mexico Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.

Registration for the in-person training can be done online at http://firstdetector.org or by calling French at 575-646-1822. To register for the live online training via CENTRA, contact French at jfrench@nmsu.edu.