Hello Avid Readers! Last week I spoke at an extension event for peanut growers in north Florida. The growers needed to get CEUs in Core material. For those of you who aren’t in the know, this basically means they needed to learn about pesticide safety. As this topic can be dry I did my best to put on a show making PPE exciting! Read more to hear about how it all went.
A Day in the Life
For this field day there were six speakers at different points on the farm. Each speaker would talk for 25 minutes and then they would have a 25 minute break as the wagons of attendees rotated around the farm. For my first set of growers it was chaos! The wind was blowing my tent over. Brochures were flying into the field. I hadn’t fully considered the amount of time I would not be able to speak into the microphone as I was trying to put on a Tyvek suit. It was also about 100 degrees which you really feel when you are wearing multiple layers of PPE.
I was told this was like “A Day in the Life” of an extension professional. The second and third time I gave my presentation it went much better. The tent was secured, the brochures weighed down, and Dr. Emma Matchem assisted me with the microphone.
What was I Doing?
I was making PPE exciting! In this stop I used my time to direct the farmers to a portion of a pesticide label. I was hoping to show them where they would see what PPE was required for this product. We went through each option and I had a variety of gloves, boots, and safety glasses to choose from. I asked them to select which ones would fit the requirements of the label and then put those things on.
It was important emphasize that pesticide applicators must wear everything on the label. You cannot wear any less PPE than the label instructs, but you can wear more. I demonstrated this by adding a Tyvek suit that was not required. In this heat the suit also gave me an opportunity to say “more is not always better”. Florida is HOT! Applicators should be aware of the risks posed by heat exposure as well as pesticide exposure.
I then went through the steps of safely removing the PPE without exposing myself. It seemed like a fun idea to pretend to take my gloves off with my teeth as an example of what not to do. I got a big reaction from that one! We also talked about disposal of PPE and what to do with washable or reusable PPE. Pesticide applicators are not the only ones at risk, especially if they live with others. We discussed how important it is to talk to other members of the household about pesticide contamination. I wrapped up the talk with some advice to wash clothing separately, including your hat! Anything worn during the application process could be contaminated and should be treated as such.
It is important we make our extension work as engaging as possible while getting across the main points. Making PPE exciting is the only way to encourage our stakeholders to absorb this type of information. The PIO will continue to think of ways to engage pesticide applicators with safety information. There are endless possibilities to make PPE, storage, and even pesticide formulations more fun and engaging. I hope there will be growing flexibility in Florida’s CEU programs to engage pesticide applicators with demonstrations and hands-on work as that is how they best learn. The PIO will be looking forward to our next opportunity (as long as they invite us back!).