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California Highlights 6 Leaders with Integrated Pest Management Achievement Awards

On Thursday, Feb. 23, the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) honored six leaders for their innovation and commitment to implementing integrated pest management (IPM) at the department’s annual IPM Achievement Awards ceremony.

The IPM Achievement Awards celebrate organizations and individuals who are leading the adoption of IPM in California, including a program that supports underserved farmers and a Major League Baseball stadium. IPM is an approach to pest management that uses the least toxic, effective method to solve pest problems. IPM is a foundational element of the state’s approach to accelerate a systemwide transition to safer, more sustainable pest management in agriculture or in urban or wildland settings.

The ceremony, hosted by DPR Director Julie Henderson, spotlighted the six awardees, and include remarks from California Secretary for Environmental Protection Yana Garcia; California Department of Food and Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross; and representatives from state leadership and the Legislature.

“Building on the foundation of effective integrated pest management approaches in urban and agricultural environments is critical to accelerating a statewide transition to sustainable practices,” said DPR Director Julie Henderson. “The awardees we are recognizing are leaders in the advancement of new tools and practices and expanding adoption of integrated pest management. They are valuable stewards of our state’s natural resources and an inspiration to future generations.”

Recipients of the 2022 IPM Achievement Awards include:

For training the next generation of IPM ambassadors in the strawberry industry

Award winner: Cal Poly Strawberry Center

The Cal Poly Strawberry Center advances IPM and sustainability in strawberry production through prolific research and outreach programs with a focus on plant pathology, entomology and labor automation. The center is conducting ongoing research to increase commercial beneficial predatory mite quality and improving the Lygus bug vacuum as alternatives to traditional pesticides. The center also provides IPM training for undergraduate and graduate students who plan to advance to positions within the strawberry industry and carry the center’s IPM and sustainability philosophy throughout California and beyond. Contact: Gerald Holmes.

For managing weeds with IPM, prioritizing sustainability, field aesthetics and athletic safety

Award winner: Oracle Park

Oracle Park, located in San Francisco, is home of the San Francisco Giants. In the care of Major League Baseball (MLB) fields, managers typically have a low threshold for turf weeds to avoid player injury and to maintain the aesthetic quality of the field. Oracle Park invests in a unique sustainability-centered turf management approach with novel and innovative practices for weed management. The biological nutrition program focuses on soil and turf health to support high-quality, high-performance turf and to minimize and prevent turf pest problems. Innovative technologies such as drones, autonomous mowers, soil sensors and a sub air system to carefully control soil conditions are also used. Oracle Park’s unique sustainability-centered approach is a cutting-edge, first-of-its-kind IPM model for turf management at MLB parks. Contact: Greg Elliott.

For using IPM to support safe human-wildlife interactions

Award winner: California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Human-Wildlife Conflicts Program (HWC)

The Human-Wildlife Conflicts Program provides statewide best practices and training for conflicts and interactions between humans and wildlife. The program collects and analyzes wildlife incident data to identify conflict hotspots and conducts educational outreach activities in affected communities. Through their Wildlife Watch Program, integrated wildlife management plans, and other efforts, HWC makes substantial contributions in awareness and appreciation for wildlife in California by educating the public on integrated wildlife management techniques that support safe human-wildlife interactions. Contact: Victoria Monroe.

For developing sustainability benchmarks to promote IPM adoption in wine growing

Award winner: Vineyard Team

Vineyard Team is an educational network that promotes sustainable vineyard growing practices and oversees the Sustainability In Practice (SIP) Certified Program. Vineyard Team’s outreach efforts include in-field trainings, podcasts and blogposts, and a Sustainable Ag Expo—all of which aim to bring together researchers, growers and decision-makers as a strong grower network promoting sustainability. The SIP Certified Program encourages vineyards and wineries to improve sustainability efforts by meeting rigorous certification standards that range from biological conservation and resource sustainability to social equity and continuing education. Currently, 42,000 acres of vineyards and wineries in California are SIP certified. Contact: Beth Vukmanic.

For providing multilingual IPM resources to underserved growers

Award winner: Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural Areas (ATTRA) Program, Western Regional Office of the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT)

NCAT’s Western Regional Office provides multilingual support for underserved growers. NCAT’s ATTRA Program provides effective outreach and education to encourage and assist growers in adopting IPM practices in their fields or transitioning to organic production. Notable successes include informing growers about lower-risk pesticide options and providing hedgerow planting for beneficial insects. Contact: Martin Guerena.

For a lifetime of IPM innovation, adoption and outreach in urban centers

Award winner: Chris Geiger, Lifetime IPM Achievement Award

Chris Geiger’s career has been dedicated to the promotion and adoption of IPM in a variety of California’s urban settings. From 2004 – 2022, Chris managed the San Francisco Department of the Environment’s Integrated Pest Management Program (SF IPM), where he guided IPM efforts that resulted in reduced pesticide use and publishing key IPM resources. Chris was a champion of the Rental Assistance Demonstration project, a collaborative project that aimed to renovate and decrease pest pressure and pesticide use in San Francisco’s public housing buildings. Chris has also co-authored “Pest Prevention by Design and Pest Prevention by Design – Landscapes,” which contains IPM strategies for preventing pests through structural or landscape design. Most recently, Chris was a member of the Sustainable Pest Management Work Group and Urban Subgroup, which was convened by DPR, California Environmental Protection Agency, and the California Department of Food and Agriculture last year to develop the Sustainable Pest Management Roadmap for California. Chris’s support of peer networking and partnership has been a lifelong commitment and continues beyond the workplace. Contact: Chris Geiger.

For more information about sustainable pest management or IPM, visit www.cdpr.ca.gov.

ABOUT THE DEPARTMENT OF PESTICIDE REGULATION

The California Department of Pesticide Regulation’s mission is to protect human health and the environment by fostering safer and sustainable pest management practices and operating a robust pesticide regulatory system.  DPR’s work includes registering all pesticides sold or used in California, conducting pre- and post-registration scientific evaluations of pesticides to assess and mitigate potential harm to human health or the environment, monitoring for pesticides in the air and water, and enforcing pesticide use laws regulations in coordination with 55 County Agriculture Commissioners and their 500 field inspectors. DPR also conducts outreach to ensure pesticide workers, farmworkers and local communities have access to pesticide safety information. DPR invests in innovative research and outreach and education to encourage the development and adoption of integrated pest management tools and practices. More information about DPR can be found on our website.

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