Schools sought for pest management pilot

The Maine Departments of Education and Agriculture are inviting schools this fall to participate in a pilot project that will allow them to review pest management practices with a specialist and receive tips for improving the quality and safety of their athletic fields, lawns and playgrounds.

The Department of Agriculture will contact school districts in the coming weeks to enlist participation in the no-cost project.

Once selected, a participating school will receive a visit from a pest management specialist, who will meet with staff members responsible for managing school grounds, including athletic directors, facilities directors, business managers and others.

During the two-hour visit, the specialist will review a school’s turf- and grounds-care practices and make specific recommendations for improving them. The specialist will keep any information collected from site visits confidential.

The Departments of Education and Agriculture will later report aggregate data — without identifying specific schools — so school districts can compare their data to statewide averages.

The pilot project is an outgrowth of LD 837, An Act To Protect Children’s Health and Promote Safe Schools and Child Care Centers by Limiting the Use of Pesticides, which Gov. Paul LePage signed into law in June.

The law requires state agencies to:

  1. assess compliance with current state pesticide and Integrated Pest Management requirements;
  2. report findings and suggested improvements to the Legislature; and
  3. develop a set of ‘best management practices’ for Maine school lawns, playgrounds and athletic fields.

For more information, contact Kathy Murray at the Maine Department of Agriculture by phone at 207-287-7616 or email at Kathy.Murray@maine.gov, or Pat Hinckley at the Maine Department of Education by phone at 207-627-6886 or by e-mail at Pat.Hinckley@maine.gov.

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