2011 Highlights: UC IPM Annual Report
New pesticide safety education program now available in California
Lisa Blecker joined UC IPM in August to lead a new program in pesticide safety education. During its first year, the program will develop and deliver train-the-trainer programs throughout the state, in both English and Spanish, for those who instruct field workers and unlicensed pesticide handlers.
Blecker will also serve as California’s designated Pesticide Safety Education Coordinator for the U.S. EPA–USDA pesticide safety program and continue UC IPM’s work with California Department of Pesticide Regulation in developing study guides and exams to certify pesticide applicators.
The program will expand depending on the needs of pesticide workers in the state, said Blecker, who has been meeting with key people in each county to determine the needs in each county or region. “My goal is to support pesticide applicators as well as pesticide safety and IPM educators in any way that I can. I’ll strive to provide them with accurate, unbiased information on how to do their jobs effectively while keeping themselves and bystanders safe from pesticide exposure.”
Using pesticides appropriately is a fundamental part of an IPM approach. “By giving pesticide applicators the tools they need to apply pesticides in a safe and effective manner, we are promoting the goals of IPM,” she said.
The self-supporting program will build on the educational programs and successes of the earlier Pesticide Safety Education Program, led by Pat O’Connor–Marer, which closed in 2005.
Blecker comes to UC IPM after three and a half years with University of Nevada Cooperative Extension’s IPM program,where she coordinated training in weed management and developed related educational materials. She also co-wrote the new National Soil Fumigation Manual, a national study guide for people wishing to become certified to apply soil fumigants.
Blecker earned her master’s degree from Colorado State University in a joint program with the United States Peace Corps. She spent more than two years as an agroforestry volunteer in Panama, teaching techniques to increase agricultural production and improve erosion management as well as coordinating and participating in a variety of other community projects. Blecker’s time in Panama also provided an opportunity for enhanced competency in speaking and writing Spanish, useful skills for reaching many of California’s farm workers and pesticide handlers.
After returning to the United States, Blecker worked in the Idaho IPM Center, funded by the Western IPM Center. She coordinated pest management strategic plans for several field crops, taught pesticide safety and IPM to Spanish-speaking field workers, and developed pest management educational materials in English and in Spanish, including the Field Guide to Potato Pests in English and Spanish.