Pest Defense Interview with Ben Grimm

Last month, Pest Defense hosted Ben Grimm of Iowa City Schools who shared Outdoor IPM policies and strategies for School Grounds. Read these excerpts and watch the full webinar here

How did you get started in the outdoor IPM field?

Growing up in the Horticulture industry, I started taking care of athletic fields around the age of 13 or 14 years old. I did that for several years before I went to college and worked on campus with their new greenhouses for a few years. In 2013, the Iowa City School District hired me to start a new grounds department.  Previously, the school district contracted their maintenance for 26 years. Now, we perform all landscape and ground maintenance in-house. 

How large is your school campus, and how do you manage that area? 

The Iowa City School District is one of the largest school districts in Iowa. We have 14,000 students and the district spreads over five different cities encompassing 511 acres. I improved our efficiency to maintain these schools without any added resources. New practices included reducing obstacles such as improperly placed signs, bike racks and planting beds, verifying action thresholds, prioritizing fields and improving efficiency by smart design were considered when implementing these guidelines at the school district. 

What protocols do you follow before applying pesticide applications? 

To perform a pesticide application, pest or weed pressure must exceed action thresholds. Technicians must positively ID the pest or weed and send a formal request to me, the IPM Coordinator. Then, I will either approve or deny the application after verification of the ID and identifying the correct pesticide rates and treatment. Responsible for notification, the principal or local administrator must notify parents and school staff prior to the application. Flags or signs must be placed on every front door of the school or on every entrance to treated fields.


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