Pest Defense caught up with our School IPM Working Group Co-PI Ted Snyder, BCE and AP environmental science teacher at Carmen Schools of Science and Technology. Snyder elaborated on how he engages his students in entomology and IPM during our interview with him.

Tell us a little about yourself, what do you do? 

My family has worked in the pestmanagement industry for the last four generations, and I’m the first to go to school for entomology. I’ve done every job in structural pest management, from technician work, to serving as a technical director. Currently, I work as an urban entomology consultant, a medical entomology officer in the US Army Reserves and I teach AP Environmental Science at a high school. 

How has your past as an entomologist influenced what you teach in the classroom? 

When I started in my current position, there was no curriculum for environmental science at my school. As a medical entomology officer, I have cross-training in the work that US Army Reserves environmental science officers perform. I leaned on that experience to build my curriculum. Also, my experience training new technicians in structural pest management helped me identify and teach knowledge and skills that young people entering the workforce lacked.  

What drove your decision to be a Co-PI for the North Central school IPM working group? 

I decided to be a Co-PI because we currently work on similar initiatives such as educating K-12 students on IPM through involving them in IPM evaluations. We can increase our impact and create safer school environments by working together.  

Why is it important to teach IPM in the classroom? 

It’s important to teach IPM in the classroom because there is a widespread misconception that pests are best managed through pesticides. I saw this when I first offered green pestmanagement services. Homeowners wanted “safe” pesticides applied instead of non-chemical control. This also ties into the devaluation of insects as organisms, compared to vertebrates. Many people see no problem with stray cats, even though they prey upon songbirds and other animals. Meanwhile, many  consider insects a nuisance, even those native to our ecosystems. IPM takes a whole ecosystem view upon pests; helps people question whether or not an insect is a pest; and takes into consideration the factors behind a large pest population. 

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