There are close to 70,000 licensed pesticide applicators in the state of Florida. All applicators must take an exam, demonstrating knowledge about pesticides. These include things like reading a label, math, laws and general safety. That testing used to occur only in person at a county extension office, or perhaps at a large conference or training event. Well now applicators can do their pesticide testing at home, these tests are NOW LIVE!
One of the first projects I started working on after my hire in November of 2019 was finding ways to enhance the pesticide testing experience. It became clear that the ability to test 24-7 and at home would be a top priority. We began in earnest finding solutions in January of 2020, and it became obvious with the shutdowns in March of 2020 that this solution went beyond convenience. During the heart of the pandemic this option wasn’t available, but now it is. UF/IFAS is partnering with Everblue to deliver the ability to test at home.
How does it work?
The way this works is that applicators sign-up for testing vouchers, exactly as they have in the past at the UF/IFAS Pesticide Exam Website (https://pesticideexam.ifas.ufl.edu/). Once a voucher is in hand from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) examinees can then return to UF/IFAS Pesticide Exam Website (https://pesticideexam.ifas.ufl.edu/) and schedule their exams. They can choose to test in the county extension office closest to them (which is still free and operated by the most dedicated agents you will ever meet!). Alternatively, they can select to test via remote proctored exams, which cost $27.60.
Three separate proctors review every exam. First a computer program track examinees as they take their exam, and a video is recorded of the entire attempt. This program can flag any suspicious behavior. Additionally, a human proctor at Everblue reviews every attempt to ensure the computer got it right. Finally, the Pesticide Information Office reviews any suspicious exams and submits a final decision to FDACS.
Currently on 5 exams are offered via this route:
Core (General Standards)
Ornamental and Turf
This project was a passion of mine and took nearly 2 years to complete, but it was well worth the effort. I was driven to ensure that all applicators in the state of Florida have as many options available to them as possible for testing and that testing is available 24-7! Many in UF/IFAS, at Everblue, and FDACS worked to see this vision through. This new platform can reduce test anxiety, allow testing during non-traditional hours, and to test from nearly anywhere. You could test from the swamp to the beach! Where there is wifi, there is a way to test. So, if you ever wanted to do your pesticide testing at home, the option is LIVE NOW!