Interview with Janet Hurley

Pest Defense recently interviewed Janet Hurley, ACE, MPA Senior Extension Program Specialist at Texas A&M University to discuss school IPM laws and regulations. At Texas A&M Extension, Hurley coordinates mandatory school IPM trainings across Texas. Hurley has a passion for IPM, protecting students and reducing the mentality of “just spraying to spray.” Read a few of her answers below or watch the whole interview here.  

How do you aid staff in the understanding of laws and regulations that guide IPM in schools, and can you provide a little background of the 1991 school IPM law? 

“The 1991 school IPM law started everything.”  Mismanagement of pesticide use in schools motivated a concerned parent to head to Austin and push for a bill to make sure no parent went through the same thing he did. The law passed in 1991 and schools had to adopt IPM programs in 1995. I was hired in 2001 to increase IPM training and adoption by schools.  I will never forget my first six-hour training when I realized that six hours is not enough to get an IPM program started let alone be functional! So, I added networking and promoted peer relationships during the trainings. 

The Texas School IPM law categorizes pesticides into three categories of least toxic (Green), moderately toxic (Yellow), and most toxic (Red). Is it a challenge to motivate more schools to use the least toxic products? 

Most of the job is teaching people about more “green” products and least-toxic pesticides and non-chemical control measures. Students can re-enter areas treated with these low-toxicity pesticides. However, it is hard to teach people to look for more options of “Green” products because the “Red” categories are always front and center at the store. Understanding life cycles, how baits work and benefits and risks of pesticide application in my school IPM coordinator trainings is always stressed.  

The legislation includes an inspection of schools every five years. For the inspections that found noncompliance, what action is taken to ensure the schools become compliant to Texas’ school IPM legislation? 

If a school receives no infractions on the 63-point inspection, their next inspection will occur in five years. The Texas Department of Agriculture publishes yearly reports from these inspections on their website. Most of the violations I see are missing paperwork for yellow or red product applications. If a school misses any sections on the inspection, they will be re-inspected in six months to a year and should have addressed the issue in that time. School staff turnover typically causes these issues.  Superintendents don’t have enough time to educate new staff and get them up to speed with the IPM program. In the last 10 years, there have only been two schools fined for non-compliance. The Department of Agriculture tries not to issue fines but will if necessary. 

Many thanks to Janet for interviewing us! If you are in Texas and are interested in School IPM Coordinator training, please contact Janet or register through their website here! (School IPM Coordinators are only required for public schools, but the training is open to all schools) 


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