Private Pesticide Applicator Training Program Improves Pesticide Safety Practices

Agriculture and Natural Resources Extension
Iowa State University

Extension Lead(s)
(name, position, counties served, contact information)

Kristine Schaefer
Extension Program Specialist IV
8 Insectary
515 294-4286

Your Position


POW # and Team

 ­­­­­_____100 Corn and Soybean Production and Protection
­­­­­_____ 110 Dairy
­­­­­_____ 120 Farm and Business Management
­­­­­_____ 130 Horticulture: Commercial and Consumer
­­­­­_____ 140 Iowa Beef Center
­­­­­_____ 150 Iowa Pork Industry Center
­­­­­_____ 160 Natural Resources and Stewardship
__x___170 Pesticide Applicator Training
______180 Other ANR Programs

ANR Priority (select all that apply)

­­­­­_____Global Food Security and Hunger
­­­­­_____Regional Food Systems
­­­­­__X__Natural Resources & Environmental Stewardship
­­­­­__X__Food Safety
­­­­­_____Sustainable Energy – Biofuels & Biobased Products
­­­­­_____Climate Change

Title of Success Story

Private Pesticide Applicator Training Program Improves Pesticide Safety Practices

Continuing Story

__X___ No                _____  Yes (If continuing, what story?)

Knowledge Areas: (USDA categories)


Desired Changes

The private pesticide applicator recertification program’s primary objective is to provide relevant, up-to-date information so that pesticide applicators have the knowledge to safely and effectively apply pesticides.  Desired results include learning about pesticide safety and pest management and implementing that knowledge in their farming operations.

(Why is it important to address this issue with education?  What are the desired changes?)

Federal and State law requires that all people who purchase and apply restricted use pesticides and any applicator who applies pesticides for hire be certified according to established standards. Each year, the Iowa State University Extension Pest Management and Environment Program (PME) develops and delivers recertification training programs for private pesticide applicators that apply restricted use pesticides.  The recertification programs provide applicators with important information on the safe and efficient use of pesticides, and pertinent, timely information on pest management issues. Private pesticide applicator training is important for the safety of applicators, their families and communities, and the environment.

(Outputs: activities, numbers reached, publications, products)

During the 2010-2011 program year, 262 private pesticide applicator training program meetings were conducted across Iowa.  A total of 15,995 private pesticide applicators received training in pesticide safety.  Topics covered in the training included: groundwater flow model demonstration, responding to emergencies, atrazine update, phytotoxicity, sudden death syndrome, 2010 insect update, insect identification and management, disease identification and severity rating activity, and weed identification and management.

RESULTS (Outcomes:  specific changes that occurred in Learning, Actions, Conditions; how outcomes were measured)

A post-training evaluation indicated that the program was well received and valuable to the participants. Overall, 96% of the respondents rated the program as excellent or good.  In addition, 96% of the respondents strongly agreed or agreed that the information presented at the meeting was useful for their farm operations.

To determine if the program had an impact on the participants and their work methods, the evaluation examined specific areas to assess behavioral changes towards safer pesticide use practices. As a result of the training received, 52% of participants said they would now familiarize themselves with fire and chemical spill response procedures (44% reported that, prior to attending the training, they already were familiar with fire and chemical spill response procedures).  Another impact showed that as a result of the training 32% of applicators will learn the characteristics of and potential points of water contamination in the watershed where they farm (65% reported they already knew this). 

The post-training evaluation also examined if participants had indeed successfully implemented new pesticide safety activities, as a result of the previous year of private pesticide applicator training.  According to the respondents, 89% of the participants said they wear pesticide resistant gloves and other required PPE when handling pesticides and 87% reported they record and maintain restricted use pesticide applications, two topics that were covered in the 2009-2010 private applicator training program.


Public Value (now or future)
(Impact:  Who benefits beyond participants and how?  What conditions changed?)

This successful program continues to result in positive changes that impact the safety and economic well being of producers and their families.  It also indirectly impacts everyone in Iowa through a cleaner and safer environment and adds value to society by addressing emerging human health, environmental, and pest management issues.


Major Partners or Collaborators

Field Agronomists, County Extension Offices, Regional Extension Education Directors, Extension Faculty

Where story took place
(Region, campus, multi-regional)

Throughout Iowa

Fiscal Year

FY 2011

Multi-state or Integrated (Ext + Research)

Integrated plus information is shared multi-state

Funding Source

Fee based and EPA partially funded


Pesticide, applicator, training, continuing instructional course, safety, education


Page last updated: July 1, 2011
Page maintained by Julie Honeick,