The most important thing about any pesticide is to use it safely.
Carol Pilcher, the newest manager of the Pesticide Safety Education Program with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, is committed to keeping private and commercial pesticide applicators safe.
"If I can just get one farmer or one commercial applicator to take another look at that label, and wear the protective equipment that they should, then I have made a difference," says Pilcher, who started in her new role Aug. 1.
Pilcher has spent the majority of her career working in pest management and regulatory policy. She earned her master's degree in entomology from ISU in 1997 and her doctorate from ISU in 2001.
As manager of the Pesticide Safety Education Program, she will oversee the training administered to private and commercial pesticide applicators across Iowa.
By partnering with the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, the program provides applicators the required education for certification and recertification on a three-year cycle that covers pesticide laws and regulations, safety, application, and new and emerging issues.
Commercial program: Training in 20-plus areas
The commercial program provides training in more than 20 different programs. A few of these programs include agricultural (insects, weeds and diseases) pest management, forest pest management, ornamental and turf pest management, seed treatments, right-of-way pest management and aerial applicator pest management.
Last year the private pesticide programs trained 12,351 farmers (private applicators). The commercial programs trained 10,596 applicators in 2020.
Pilcher took over for Kristine Schaefer, who retired in February. Pilcher says the commercial programs have the ability to provide recent updates and answer questions concerning recent changes in the use of pesticides. There have been many changes during the past year. She looks forward to the continued relationship that applicators have with ISU Extension and Outreach.
"I understand Extension's role and its relationship with the farmers," she says. "The field agronomists really respect the relationship they have with the farmers in their area. Our entire program respects this relationship, and we want to help farmers with pesticide safety."
Pilcher became interested in insects as a child, when her father showed her his 4-H insect collection.
She met her husband, Clint Pilcher, while they were both working in the Insectary at Colorado State University. Clint Pilcher earned his doctorate in entomology from ISU in 1999, and also has an extensive career in pest management.