UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Pennsylvania certified pesticide applicators looking for ways to earn recertification credits may want to consider the wide variety of options provided by Penn State Extension, which is offering a 25% discount on all pesticide recertification online courses through March 31.
To maintain pesticide certification, applicators must obtain recertification credits approved by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture at three-year intervals. The program requires six core credits and up to 10 category credits for each category in which the applicator is certified.
“Penn State Extension offers plenty of opportunities to earn credits that include a wide range of teaching approaches,” said Jon Johnson, director of pesticide education.
Learning formats include online courses, correspondence courses, workshops, webinars and conferences.
“Many applicators live in remote areas or lack internet access or interest in online learning, so we offer a wide variety of formats to accommodate the needs of our audience,” Johnson said. “Everyone likes options. Whether you prefer to learn in the comfort of your home or meet in public places to socialize and experience instruction in the company of others, you will find the format that works best for you.”
He added that Penn State Extension reacted quickly to the pandemic and the need for alternative, safe ways of learning.
“With the inability to provide in-person events, Penn State Extension quickly pivoted to online learning opportunities, such as webinars and online courses, to meet the demand for continuing education,” Johnson said. “There was a real focus on meeting the need of our agricultural community. Realizing that not everyone used or was equipped for online learning, yet another option was created — workbooks, which are recognized as a new type of correspondence course.”
The workbooks allow pesticide applicators to earn recertification credits by mail. The workbooks cover a range of topics, including forage, pumpkin, tomato and soybean diseases; adjuvants and pesticides; pesticide record-keeping; pesticide spill protocol; grain and rodent burrow fumigation; and pollinators and pesticides.
Johnson noted that online training or workbook courses offer advantages such as schedule flexibility, more customized topic selections, elimination of the need for travel, and, in some instances, self-paced instruction. Inclement weather or emergencies do not prevent online or correspondence courses from occurring.
Extension offers 30 online courses and webinars with opportunities to earn pesticide recertification credits. These virtual options cover a wide range of topics, such as aquatic pesticide management, employee landscape training, forage weed management, pesticide emergency or incidence response, turfgrass installation and maintenance, pesticides in the environment, and many other subjects.
With several in-person workshops and conferences on the calendar, Extension also accommodates those who prefer in-person instruction. These workshops, such as the “Professional Pest Managers School” and the “Crops Day” events held around the state, provide opportunities for networking with peers while earning recertification credits.
“The variety of available options allows educators and topic specialists to provide both in-person instruction within their geographic areas and remote instruction over the entire commonwealth,” Johnson said.
The high level of expertise at Penn State Extension distinguishes it from other entities, he noted.
“Penn State Extension is uniquely situated and qualified to provide cutting-edge information from leading scientists across a broad range of subject areas,” he said. “Extension staff located across the commonwealth offer broad expertise and are passionate about the industries they support. The information presented is both unbiased and research based. We strive to develop and deliver content that is interesting, engaging and current.”
More information about the various opportunities for pesticide recertification is available on the Penn State Extension website at extension.psu.edu/pestcredits.
–Alexandra McLaughlin, Penn State University