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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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NMSU IPM in schools program receives EPA recognition

New Mexico State University's Integrated Pest Management specialist and two New Mexico school districts received recognition from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for participating in the National School IPM Demonstration Project.

Tess Grasswitz, NMSU Extension IPM specialist, Menaul School and the Rio Rancho Public Schools were recognized by the EPA Office of Pesticide Programs for being part of the demonstration project that is being conducted in 14 states.

"We are fortunate to have school districts in New Mexico that understand the importance of having an IPM program," said Grasswitz, who is working with the school districts to help them develop plans to implement IPM. "It is a great honor for our two pilot school districts to receive recognition via this national award."

The demonstration project received the 2012 PestWise IPM Innovator Award during the International IPM Symposium, March 27-29 in Memphis, Tenn.

"The IPM Innovator Award recognizes accomplishments in risk reduction and IPM promotion," Steven Bradbury, director of the Office of Pesticide Programs, wrote in a letter to Grasswitz. "You have demonstrated significant impacts through the promotion and support for school IPM."

Shelby Lucero, Rio Rancho Public School maintenance services manager, said he is proud that his district is one of two New Mexico school systems involved in the national demonstration project. "We try to be on the leading edge of public education trends," he said. "The district's administration has been very supportive of our IPM plan."

He added that it is very important that EPA shows leadership in encouraging schools to adopt IPM plans.

The National School IPM Demonstration Projects were specifically recognized as IPM Innovators for increasing public understanding of the risks of various pest control practices, and for using IPM practices to reduce pest complaints and pesticide use in schools and other public buildings by up to 93 percent without long-term cost increases.

Schools and districts in 14 states have held more than 50 workshops and training sessions, educating hundreds of school staff members and administrators across the country, impacting more than 400,000 students and 26,000 faculty and staff members.

"These are tremendous achievements that have helped improve the lives of countless individuals as well as increase widespread adoption of IPM," Bradbury said.

Nationally, there is a movement to get all U.S. schools to adopt IPM by 2015.

Grasswitz is collaborating with other members of the Western School IPM Working Group to help promote IPM in schools. Grasswitz has conducted several IPM workshops and presentations for school maintenance supervisors and staff.

The New Mexico Public School Facilities Authority encourages school personnel to attend these workshops and to include the IPM program in the school districts' state-mandated preventative maintenance plans.