One way to help ease consumers' concerns is to teach pest control operators, and the people who regulate them, the latest and most effective, environmentally friendly ways to protect houses.
|Posing for a class picture are 13 of the more than 300 pest control operators who have trained at the Georgia Structural Pest Control Training Center in Griffin, Ga.|
Suiter, a UGA Extension Service entomologist and an expert on controlling termites, directed the class to an odd-looking house foundation nearby for their final assignment.
It sounded easy enough: Treat the walls of a typical house for termites, something Curley Chase has done day in and day out for 32 years. "It's easy until you've got the boss looking over your shoulder," Chase said.
The "boss" is Meredith Harr, one of the Georgia Department of Agriculture's 22 termite inspectors. She and the other inspectors follow up on 1,900 consumer complaints each year.
"This is the kind of stuff we've got to check behind these guys on," Harr said.
Versatile Training Center
The training is especially effective because the Georgia Structural Pest Control Training Center includes a home foundation built from every type of material used to build Georgia homes.
From stucco to block to brick to poured foundation, they're all available at the training center on the Griffin, Ga., campus of the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.
"It allows that technician to get out here and envision what is behind that wall, what might be behind that brick facade," Suiter said.
|In one Griffin, Ga., site, pest control operators can test termite-control skills on foundations built from every type of material used in Georgia.|
This training's final exam sparked some lively debate between operators and inspectors.
"We're not through yet," said one inspector.
"I feel like we're playing survivor here," said a pest control technician.
"We are," the inspector replied.
"It's kind of a marriage," Chase said, "of (operators and inspectors) who at times can be at odds."
Improving Termite Control
"I think it allows them to better treat the typical Georgian's home," said Suiter, who fielded the questions that emerged from the class's final assignment.
The Department of Agriculture, UGA CAES and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency sponsor the training facility. More than 300 pest control operators and inspectors have trained at the unique center since it opened in July 1998. They, in turn, train their co-workers back home.
"I'll take the time out now to look at a fireplace a lot differently every time I go up to one," said Chase at the end of the session.