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A Pest Management Professional’s Perspective on IPM in Schools

New York-based Superior Pest Elimination is working with schools in the New York and New Jersey areas to improve children’s health by reducing pest complaints and pesticide use with IPM practices.

| March 23, 2010

Editor’s note: The following article, submitted by the IPM Institute of North America, reviews how New York-based Superior Pest Elimination is working with schools in the New York and New Jersey areas to improve children’s health by reducing pest complaints and pesticide use with IPM practices.

For many school systems, hiring a pest management professional (PMP) makes good economic sense.   Contracting options range from regular inspections to on-call service when a professional is needed to address a problem.  To better understand the lives of PMPs working in schools, Mike Orlino of Superior Pest Elimination discussed how his company works with New York City schools.  

Superior works with over 70 schools in the New York and New Jersey areas.  Orlino relates obstacles when working in schools, or any facility that feeds the mouths of many. 

“Commercial kitchens are very challenging to keep pest free,” says Orlino, “the volume of food and other products moving in, and food waste moving out, can be enormous.”  Public schools in New York serve a few hundred to over 1,000 meals per day.  Kitchens range from 1,500 to 2,000 square feet in size and often contain 20 to 30 refrigerators.  To track pest presence, Superior relies on thorough inspection and monitoring.  Technicians regularly and strategically take apart equipment, such as stainless steel drawers, to inspect for signs of insects such as cockroaches which can take shelter inside.  Taking the time to inspect areas that are hard to access is often essential to resolving a problem.

Like many districts around the country, New York City schools frequently have construction projects nearby, which can disturb outdoor rodent habitat and drive them inside school buildings in search of food and new shelter.  Orlino’s team can “rodent-proof anything”—from steam pipe chases to radiators to exhaust vents—using non-chemical methods including metal mesh, screening and all types of sealants designed for specific surfaces from asphalt to wood.  Superior technicians use PestPac mobile devices—handheld computers that scan bar codes on traps and monitoring stations to produce a detailed report for each school building.  School staff can then log-in to the system and view work orders and actions taken by technicians to assess and solve the problem.

Monthly visits from PMPs can’t be the only line of defense in most schools.  Some of New York City’s school buildings exceed 80,000 square feet, an enormous amount of area to cover.  Orlino and his team communicate regularly with school staff to educate them on pest biology, explain why pests are there, how they got there and how to resolve and prevent pest problems.  “Education is key,” says Orlino.  His own technicians attend continuing education seminars such as the NYC Rodent Control Academy and participate in weekly pest-specific classroom training sessions.  This training “keeps them sharp including knowing the difference between IPM and conventional pest management practices.”  Along with competitive wages and incentives, Orlino says that “continuing education makes employees feel valued and encourages them to perform better in their industry.” 

Superior is a Green Shield Certified service company. Other third-party certifications include EcoWise and Green Pro.

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