Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Gee, I love my job

Today's IPM Coordinator training class at
Plano Independent School District.
As I write, I'm sitting in a mostly dark room listening to my Texas AgriLife colleagues Don Renchie and Janet Hurley walk a group of almost 40 school IPM Coordinators through a long list of rules and regulations about how pesticides must be used in Texas public schools.  In between jokes, back-and-forth banter, and scribbling pens, learning is taking place and it's a beautiful thing. 

Given a choice, I suspect most of us would probably not choose to spend our day watching a PowerPoint slide show and listening to speakers for hours. But there is little boring about this session between a group of eager learners and an entertaining speaker (and if you know Dr. Don Renchie, you know what I mean).  I know the efforts made by Janet Hurley to keep this training interesting, relevant, and interactive.  A wireless audience response system gets students interacting with us trainers, and shows both the class and the trainers how well the message is being conveyed.  Refreshments are handy and (at least today) the chairs are comfortable. Life is good.

I've found few things more satisfying that imparting knowledge to a motivated group of adult learners.  Some of my personal best friends are teachers and find great fulfillment in teaching children important life skills. Personally, give me a group of adults.  Sure kids are cute, and their innocence and naivete is engaging; but adults need education just as much as the kids. Adults are easily bored, often critical, sometimes prejudiced and usually forgetful; but nothing in my book is better than giving adult learners skills that they need to excel in their jobs and/or life. The rewards outweigh the pains.

School IPM coordinators, and the PMPs who work for them, are given the weighty responsibility of keeping  school districts pest-free while balancing pesticide risks.  This isn't easy.  Coordinators have to first master a dozen or so pages of laws and regulations; they have to learn tongue-twisting pesticide names and their properties; they have to organize reams of records; they have to fight for scarce  budget dollars; they have to counsel frustrated principals, teachers and sometimes parents; and they have to be ready for unannounced visits from state inspectors.  Few of them asked for their jobs as IPM coordinator, rather they were assigned the position usually on top of several other jobs. 

Watching and listening to classes like this respond to speakers and ask intelligent and probing questions is highly satisfying.  Over the years I watched some of our IPM class and PMP alumni work their way up through the food chain in their school districts and pest control companies.  I've seen people who were initially reluctant to be assigned the job of "bug killer" only to embrace the position and take great satisfaction in their new job. I like to think that I and my colleagues have played a part in the pride and high performance of more than a few of these men and women.  And that's why I love my job.

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