(PRWEB) March 18, 2006 -- Students at Shaw Middle School
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in southwest Philadelphia are taking control of pest problems in their school as part of a Penn State service-learning project. Students will present the results of their work at the upcoming National Service Learning Conference taking place at the Philadelphia Conference Center March 22-25.
“ This is a great way for other students, parents, and the community to see what the students are learning about ”
The project aims to alleviate potential problems with pests such as cockroaches, ants, rats and weeds by empowering students, teachers and the community to implement Integrated Pest Management strategies, or IPM.
IPM is a kid-safe, economical, and scientific approach to managing pests. IPM integrates knowledge of pest identity and biology with pest monitoring so that action, if needed, can be taken at just the right time. In addition, IPM uses a combination of management tactics that are more likely to be safe and effective.
All public schools in Pennsylvania are now required to have an IPM plan in place to manage pests in school buildings and on school grounds. In addition, all public school students in Pennsylvania must learn
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about IPM to meet the new academic standards in environment and ecology.
The IPM service-learning program was initiated at Shaw three years ago by Pennsylvania IPM Program staff member Teresina Bailey and Dr. Nicole Webster, Penn State professor of agricultural and extension education
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, and is implemented and managed by a team consisting of Penn State education specialists, schoolteachers and PA IPM personnel. Under their direction, a group of sixth, seventh, and eighth grade students formed an IPM team, called “Pest Patrol”, to learn about the benefits of using IPM in their school to manage roaches, flies, and mice indoors and address other environmental issues in a service-learning format. This spring, students hope to expand the project to learn how to manage insects, animals and weed pests that may infest the school's outdoor garden.
“Service-learning provides a tremendous asset to youth by providing them with skills to promote self-confidence, citizenship, and leadership to deal with these situations,” says Dr. Webster. “Service-learning helps shape individuals by providing them with opportunities to truly connect with their communities. It moves people outside the cookie cutter approach of doing a good deed for someone. With service-learning, individuals find out the true needs of a community, ask questions, and interact with community members, helping to build skills they will need in life,” she explains.
According to Michelle Niedermeier, community IPM Coordinator for PA IPM, the students have been working on several projects. “The students took pictures of the things in their neighborhood that they liked and didn’t like. Then, the students took pictures of potential pest situations at school that they have control over (leaving food and food wrappers in lockers) and items that maintenance personnel must repair (cracks in walls). They are working on turning these pictures into posters that are being displayed at the entrances of the school.”
Also, the Pest Patrol has prepared and staffed a display about the service-learning project for two NASA-sponsored STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) nights at Shaw. “This is a great way for other students, parents, and the community to see what the students are learning about,” says Dr. Webster.
Students will have the opportunity to use their new skills in homes and communities -- skills they learned practicing IPM in the school environment. According to Niedermeier, students are utilizing surveys, audio-visual displays, after-school programs, newsletters at health fairs and community outreach events. “The students are learning how to be expert leaders, team researchers, educators, and peer role models while collaborating with community partners,” she says.
Currently, the students are gearing up to participate in the 17th Annual National Service-Learning Conference taking place in Philadelphia March 22-25. “The event will be the largest gathering of youths and practitioners in the country involved in the service-learning movement,” says Dr. Webster. “The Shaw students will be participating in a Regional Service-Learning Showcase to share their experiences with the Pest Patrol project.” For more information on the conference, visit their web site at https://programs.regweb.com/metro/NSLC2006/.
The PA IPM program is a collaboration between Penn State and the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture aimed at promoting IPM in both agricultural and nonagricultural situations. The PA IPM program's Web site at http://paipm.cas.psu.edu contains a wealth of information about the school IPM effort in Pennsylvania and educational materials from across the country. For more information on service learning, visit Penn State’s Agricultural & Extension web site at http://servicelearning.cas.psu.edu/WhatIs.html. For more information on PA IPM, contact the program at (814) 865-2839, or visit Web site http://paipm.cas.psu.edu. To view our archived news releases, see Web site http://paipm.cas.psu.edu/newsrelease.html.