Monday, October 31, 2016

From Director Amanda Crump: IPM is All About Change

Let’s talk about change.

They say people hate change. And while change can be scary and stressful, it can also be transformative and even adventurous.

Integrated pest management is all about change. IPM is is a system of change – where you make the best decision you can, evaluate that decision and then make more changes. That’s what makes IPM such a fun system to work with: it’s a tool that can be applied in different ways and in different settings and while the principles remain constant, the practice of IPM doesn’t.

At the National IPM Coordinating Committee meeting, we wondered as a group if IPM needed to change. We’ve recapped the discussion in this newsletter but a couple of points have stayed with me.

One person wondered if we could frame IPM as an approach within other contexts, a framework incorporated into other pest management contexts and systems. That didn’t seem like a change to me until she suggested that to fit in some systems, we might have to give up the term IPM. That’s a big change and that’s one that initially made me uncomfortable. Are we ready, as a community, to give up this name that we worked so long and hard to define?

But would we actually be giving up anything if our ultimate vision was still fulfilled? If the principles of integrated pest management are applied across systems and the result is increased income, a more resilient environment and a healthier population, have we lost anything?

I certainly think it’s worth having the discussion. You can contribute to the National IPM Coordinating Committee white paper, but you can also contribute by having these conversations within your networks in and out of the IPM community. What would it take to see IPM used in every school, national park, forest, house and farm in the West?  

The National IPM Coordinating Committee isn’t the only place where this discussion is being held. We are holding it at the Center, too.

As I’ve been learning about the Center, I’ve asked our team to be introspective. As a result, we have refined our mission and vision and developed a draft of how we will evaluate ourselves and hold ourselves accountable to the people of the West.

Our new mission statement outlines why we exist:

We serve the people, environment and economy of the West by supporting the development and adoption of integrated pest management to reduce the risks of pests and of pest-management practices.

And we’ve developed a new vision that outlines what we would like to see as a result of our efforts:

A healthier West with fewer pests.

We’ve developed a theory of change around these revised goals. This theory of change summarizes our work at a strategic level. It’s meant to motivate us and locate us in the greater IPM community. It begins with our ultimate goal.

A healthy West is one where human health is improved or protected, the environment, communities and farms become more resilient and the economy is enriched.

To us, the path to a healthier West is through widespread IPM adoption. Along with others, the Western IPM Center aims to increase IPM adoption. With our resources and expertise, the Center’s niche is building regional approaches to integrated pest management. State-level IPM researchers, extension educators, growers, agencies and others develop, test and refine IPM methodologies that work on local scales. We promote and catalyze the expansion of these methodologies beyond state and regional borders. We also support our region by promoting its needs at a national level.

The Western IPM Center will use this theory of change to plan and evaluate our program. This theory of change is flexible and responsive to change. And it might be modified from time to time because, as we all know, things change.

I look forward to your thoughts on reframing integrated pest management, our vision and mission statements, and our theory of change. Together, as a community, we can change the way people manage pests. We can integrate IPM principles into other systems. And we can work together for a healthier West with fewer pests. 

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