Friday, April 10, 2009

Texas School IPM Coordinators to Meet

Democracy in America By Alexis de Tocqueville, Henry Reeve, John Canfield Spencer:IN no country in the world has the principle of association been more successfully used or more unsparingly applied to a multitude of different objects than in America Besides the permanent associations which are established by law under the names of townships cities and counties a vast number of others are formed and maintained by the agency of private individuals The citizen of the United States is taught from his earliest
I believe that one of the things that makes America unique, and contributes to our success as a nation, is our habit of association. What I mean by this is that Americans have the mindset that we are stronger and more effective when we band together to accomplish a goal. This is by no means a new thought. Alexis de Tocqueville, an early French student of American democracy and admirer of George Washington, devoted an entire chapter to this idea in his influential book, Democracy in America.

It's easy to recognize the power of association at work in our communities. How many Lion's clubs, PTAs, churches, professional and scientific associations, unions, Toastmasters, MS and cancer-fighting groups are active in your community or county? Probably more than you realize. In my mind, the people who give their time to these groups are the unsung heroes of our country, and have done more to make our society work than all the politicians since Washington.

A few years ago in Texas the idea of school IPM coordinators organizing a state association of their peers seemed unlikely, but over the past few weeks a group of dedicated school maintenance professionals has been working hard to do just that. A group of school IPM coordinators is doing the groundwork to form the first statewide association of school IPM coordinators anywhere in the country.

Why an association of school IPM coordinators? One of the goals of the committee is to seek wider recognition of IPM coordinators as an integral part of school maintenance programs. Since 1995 every school district in Texas has been required to appoint an IPM coordinator, get them a day of training, and put them in charge of pest control. In too many instances school IPM coordinators are appointed by administrators with little appreciation of the importance of the job and with little administrative support. Some of these coordinators do pest control themselves, some hire pest management professionals and oversee their work, some preside over staffs of in-house district pesticide applicators with a sizeable pest control budget. Until now there have been few opportunities for school IPM coordinators to interact directly with peers in other districts.

Over the past year Janet Hurley, coordinator of the Southwest Technical Resource Center for School IPM, has been instrumental in encouraging these leaders to get together and has worked hard to obtain seed money to put on a statewide association meeting. Just recently a meeting venue and a date was determined.

The first statewide meeting of IPM coordinators will be held in San Marcos, TX on November 18 and 19, 2009. The meeting will be held at the Embassy Suites and Conference Center just off I-35. The central location was chosen to encourage school districts from all parts of the state to participate. Dr. Bobby Corrigan, a nationally recognized expert in rodent control, has tentatively accepted an invitation to be the keynote speaker, and an impressive array of speakers are planned for the 1 1/2 day event. Exhibitors will also be invited to show and demonstrate pest management related products.

The conference is open to anyone with an interest in IPM in schools. Pest management professionals who serve as contractors for schools will be welcomed along with all school district personnel and stakeholders with an interest in IPM. In addition to training, the meeting will provide a venue to officially kick-start a new state association of school IPM coordinators, elect officers and approve bylaws. So mark your calendars now. Anyone working in school IPM in Texas would be remiss in not being part of this inaugural meeting. De Tocqueville would even be impressed, I'm sure.

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