Monday, July 30, 2018

The Western IPM Center Works as a Catalyst and a Champion

Amanda Crump


This will be my final opportunity to write for the Western IPM Center newsletter, at least as its director.

After what seems like two of the shortest years of my career, I’ve taken a faculty job in the Department of Plant Sciences at UC Davis. Next month, I’ll shift my focus from pests in the American West to developing sustainable agricultural systems globally.

Thinking about how other nations can achieve the kinds of agricultural improvements that integrated pest management and other sustainable ag innovations have brought to American agriculture, I’ve been thinking about what makes the Western IPM Center work. What’s made the Center, and its IPM partners, so successful over the years?

First, it’s because the Western IPM Center is a catalyst. It creates long-lasting partnerships across state, territory and tribal borders and supports talented, creative, passionate people who are tackling the West’s pest problems. The grants we give and papers we publish and tools we create are important, but it’s always people who get things done. 

Second, the Western IPM Center is a champion for the vast, diverse and incredible West. Our region has Alaska and Hawaii, Portland and Phoenix. We don’t grow one or two crops, but hundreds. We promote Western pest-management needs and explain how Western crops are grown. We evaluate what works and highlight the great accomplishments so many are making in the West to fight pests.

As a catalyst and champion, the Western IPM Center is promoting smart, safe and sustainable pest management to protect the people, environment and economy of the American West.

The challenges in developing agricultural systems are many and varied, but the lessons of the Western IPM Center do apply: connect people to catalyze change and champion their needs and efforts and accomplishments. I’m bringing that to my new work.

Although I’m leaving the Center team, I’m not going far. IPM and the people who practice it are important to me. Keep at it. Keep in touch. Keep caring about people and our planet and making things better.

Thanks for letting me be part of something great.

Keep smilin’,

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Pathways to the Next Generation of IPM

Why: To improve the dialogue about pests, pesticides and integrated pest management.
Who: The California Department of Pesticide Regulation and the University of California Statewide IPM Program, in a project known as Pests, Pesticides and IPM.
How: Through a two-year series of workshops, focus groups and conversations leading to an April 17 IPM Summit held for a packed house in Davis, California.

What’s Next? Making it happen.

At the summit, the Pests, Pesticides and IPM team presented recommendations and summit speakers shared ideas on how to move IPM forward to an audience of more than 200.

“One things I was happy about was that pretty much everyone accepted the idea that pests are part of the human experience and everyone has to manage pests,” said Jim Farrar, director of UC IPM. “That’s a good shared foundation. What we have to agree on as a society is how we manage pests.”

The recommendations from the project team were distilled from listening sessions focused on pest management in landscapes, structures and agriculture, plus workshops focused on policy and communications and technology and innovation.

“The recommendations were a synthesis of these meetings we held all around the state,” Farrar said. “They’ll also be captured in a white paper published later this summer.”

Here are the team’s recommendations, what it called pathways to the next generation of IPM:

1)    Re-invest in IPM at every level: basic and applied research, extension, and education.
2)    Increase critical thinking and creative solutions about pests and pesticides by using best practices, such as systems thinking, that engage diverse stakeholders in local and regional innovation collaborations.
3)    Make it easier for individuals, businesses, farms, agencies and organizations to choose integrated approaches to managing pests and pesticides:
a)     Drive the demand for IPM through synergistic partnerships with industry, commodity, community, educational, research, and government organizations.
b)    More effectively partner with pest management professionals and practitioners to become trusted advocates for effective IPM.
c)     Partner with the retail industry to improve resources available to consumers about selection of reduced risk pest management solutions.
d)    Be creative in engaging community organizations, homeowner associations, and other non-traditional partners, particularly those groups that are trusted by California's diverse communities, to increase their capacity for representation and engagement in IPM.
e)    Create incentives for IPM that focus on reduced-risk pest management, resource conservation, sustainability, communication, and use of social sciences to increase adoption of IPM.
4)    Bring new pest management tools, practices, and technology, including reduced-risk active ingredients, to market more quickly by reducing regulatory hurdles, particularly for biopesticides.
5)    Take advantage of the front-line knowledge and role of field workers and municipal applicators to improve early detection of pests, recommend lower risk approaches, safe practices in the workplace and at home, and to effectively interact with the public.

The project ends in September, but Farrar is hopeful that the conversation will continue and focus on ways to move the recommendations forward to help make IPM the way everyone manages pests.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Remembering Former Center Director Rick Melnicoe

Rick Melnicoe was a fixture in Western agriculture for decades.

As the regional coordinator of the specialty crop pesticide program known as IR-4, or the director of the Western Pesticide Impact Assessment Program, or the founding director of the Western Integrated Pest Management Center, Rick met with, worked with, ran with and influenced a lot of people.

Here a few voices from that chorus.

“My memory of Rick was that he was very practical,” said Carrie Koplinka-Loehr, who was a co-director and director of the Northeastern IPM Center while Rick led the Western Center. “He was very level-headed. He knew an lot about pesticides and pesticide safety and was able to use that knowledge.”

Rick chaired the Regional IPM Centers joint meetings shortly after Carrie joined the group, and she learned from his leadership.

“He was one of the people who shaped my early experiences and expectations about the job,” she said. “I was grateful to him for providing a role model for me.”

Rick was an avid runner, and fast. Idaho’s Ronda Hirnyck, who worked with Rick for years in IR-4 or other programs, remembers getting dropped by Rick on an early morning run in New Orleans and yelling for him to stay in sight.

“We’d start out tighter on runs, but never finish together.”

Rick was frugal with taxpayer funds and didn’t spend them easily. He was networked throughout the West and nationally, and able to advocate for Western needs and priorities.

Former Southern IPM Center Director Jim VanKirk remembers Rick’s ability to move past confrontations or difficult encounters and maintain relationships and friendships with people.

“He’d take care of other people,” Jim said. “He was strong. You could count on him to try to move past difficult things and get people to try to move forward together. If there were 300 million people like Rick in this country, we would be a lot better off."

Rick brought binoculars on trips and a list of birds he hadn’t seen in the wild.

While serving as director of the Western IPM Center, he also ran California’s Office of Pesticide Information and Coordination. Lisa Blecker took over that portion of Rick’s responsibilities when he retired in 2012.

“He never seemed stressed or frazzled,” she said. “I have no idea how he did that. He was always calm and collected, just getting it all done without making a fuss about anything. He was so even tempered.”

Rick had opinions and would advocate for them, but would also change his mind when presented with a better idea. He believed in science-based solutions. People remember that.

Diane Clarke, former Center writer, remembers Rick’s generosity, kindness and friendliness.
So do others.

“He was great with people,” Ronda said. “You could always count on him.”

“He was just a good person,” Jim said. “He always seemed to do the right thing.”

“I really think he was a good soul,” Carrie said. “He had higher goals and really worked to see people succeed together.”

See Rick's obituary in the Sacramento Bee