UC offers online course for grape pest advisors
Faced with increasingly stringent environmental regulations — including more rigorous state licensing requirements that go into effect Jan. 1, 2003 — pest control advisors (PCAs) for grapes can now obtain important information in a new online course developed by the UC Davis-based Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (SAREP).
“Ecological Pest Management in Grapes” is the first online course of its kind in California, and perhaps the nation, that is completely Web-based and has undergone scientific peer-review, says Chris Geiger, California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) entomologist. Geiger, formerly of SAREP, created the course with SAREP education coordinator David Chaney, in consultation with an advisory committee of UC scientists and grape PCAs. “As environmental regulations become tighter and older pesticides are removed from the market or heavily restricted, many growers are modifying their production systems to include more ecologically based approaches to controlling pests,” Chaney says.
Pest management professionals can play a key role in this transition process, providing clients with information on the biology of pests and natural enemies, sampling programs, decision support tools and knowledge of softer, less disruptive pest control materials.
By making use of up-to-date educational technologies, the self-guided course offers a highly interactive educational experience. It includes inquiry-based, problem-solving simulations, and interactive self-tests.
Grape pest advisors have a new educational tool — the first online course that has been peer reviewed by UC scientists. “Because it's on the Web, students can progress at their own pace,” says Chris Geiger of the California Department of Pesticide Regulation, who co-developed the program.
The course covers the biology of specific organisms in the grape ecosystem, field diagnosis and monitoring techniques and summaries of the best available decision-making tools and management options. Graded multiple-choice exams are taken online, and are used to determine the number of continuing education credits students receive.
The course advisory committee included: Jenny Broome, SAREP associate director; Clifford Ohmart, Lodi-Woodbridge Winegrape Commission; Kent Daane, UC Berkeley Extension assistant specialist; Rhonda Smith, viticulture farm advisor, UCCE Sonoma County; Mary Louise Flint, publications director, UC Integrated Pest Management Program; Larry Whitted, PCA; and George Leavitt, viticulture farm advisor, UCCE Madera County.
For more information, go to: www.sarep.ucdavis.edu/courses/grapes .