We can do something about fire ants – Training Professionals and Developing Teaching Materials in Sustainable Fire Ant Management

2002 Annual Report for ES00-050

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2000: $40,155.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2004
Matching Non-Federal Funds: $31,775.00
Region: Southern
State: Alabama
Principal Investigator:
Kathy Flanders
Auburn University

We can do something about fire ants – Training Professionals and Developing Teaching Materials in Sustainable Fire Ant Management

Summary

All fire ant training aids were finished by January 2002. Actual products, or their descriptions, are available on our fire ant web site, www.aces.edu/dept/fireants. Between January 1, 2002 and December 31, 2002, 812 trainers participated in 26 trainer-oriented workshops. Results from pre- and post-testing showed that we increased the general level of knowledge of our fire ant management advisers by 29%. We estimate that this program has resulted in a change in behavior where almost 19,000 stakeholders have switched from a crisis-oriented fire ant control program to a sustainable fire ant management program. In addition to benefits of such as improved environmental quality and reduced risk of pesticide exposure, we estimate that we saved the stakeholders $1.3 million dollars per year.

Objectives/Performance Targets

Conduct a hands-on in-service training session for 40 county agents and farmers on fire ant biology and sustainable management. Based on prior in-service sessions, we expect that pre-training and post-training tests will show that we have increased by 20-25% the knowledge level of this first tier of trainers.

The major participants and first tier of trainees will work together to prepare fire ant teaching materials. We expect to develop a video, a slide set, an interactive CD-ROM, educational posters, preserved specimens of fire ants, and a model of a fire ant mound. This participatory training method will further increase the knowledge base of these trainers.

The major participants and tier 1 trainees will use the newly developed teaching materials to instruct a second tier of trainers and stakeholders, including additional county agents, farmers cooperative personnel, Master Gardeners, turfgrass managers, building industry personnel, and Christmas tree growers. We expect to hold approximately 30 training sessions.

Accomplishments/Milestones

All fire ant training aids were finished by January 2002. Actual products, or their descriptions, are available on our fire ant web site, www.aces.edu/dept/fireants. We have shared our educational products with fire ant workers in all fire ant infested states. Our fire ant video, Fire Ant Control Made Easy, was translated into Spanish by the Texas Imported Fire Ant Research and Education Plan.
Between January 1, 2002 and December 31, 2002, 812 trainers participated in 26 trainer-oriented workshops. Educational materials used included slide sets, videotapes, posters, mound models, and publications. Master Gardeners, Master Cattle Producers, pesticide dealers, turfgrass managers, environmental biology students, city employees, botanical garden directors, horticultural inspectors, and pest control operators and NRCS personnel were trained in sustainable fire ant management. 202 members of the general public participated in 7 other workshops. Twelve county agents and two specialists participated in training fire ant management advisers..
Three county agents and two specialists participated in staffing fire ant booths at the Alabama Peanut Festival and the Alabama National Fair. More than 10,000 ACES publications were handed out during these event.
Several other organizations have collaborated with ACES in implementing this program. Our partners include The Alabama Fire Ant Management Program, Alabama A&M University, USDA ARS, USDA APHIS, and the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries. Stakeholder groups that allowed us to conduct training sessions were the Alabama Turfgrass Association, the Southern Chapter of the Horticultural Inspection Society, and the Natural Resources Conservation Service East Team, and the Southeastern Association of Botanical Garden Directors.
Results from pre- and post-testing showed that we increased the general level of knowledge of our fire ant management advisers by 29%.

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes

We hope that each of our fire ant management advisers will help 20 others manage fire ants in a sustainable way (16,200). We hope members of the general public who were trained will contact several of their neighbors (606). Of the 10,000 publications that were handed out, we hope that 2,000 will be read and cause individuals to change their fire ant management practices. This adds up to 18,800 people. Switching from crisis oriented fire ant management to a sustainable approach will reduce costs per household from $100 to approximately $30. That would result in a cost savings of $1,316,000 ($18,800 X $70) each year.
Fire ants affect all our lives. Because of that, they are frequently in the news. Our trained county agents appear frequently on the radio, on television, and in print discussing fire ants and their management. Results are reported to the Alabama Legislature, and key government officials via the annual report of the Alabama Fire Ant Management Program.

Collaborators:

Rufina Navasero Ward

rward@aamu.edu
Research Assistant Professor
Alabama A & M University
Department of Plant and Soil Sciences
P. O. Box 1208
Normal, AL 35806
Office Phone: 2568584244
Kenneth Creel

kcreel@aces.edu
County Extension Agent, Madison County
Alabama Cooperative Extension System
Charles Stone Agricultural Service Center
819 Cook Avenue
Huntsville, AL 35801
Office Phone: 2565321578
Lawrence (Fudd) Graham

fgraham@acesag.auburn.edu
Alabama Fire Ant Management Program Coordinator
Auburn University
Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology
301 Funchess Hall
Auburn University, AL 36849-5413
Office Phone: 3348442563
Kenneth Ward

aamkew01@asnaam.aamu.edu
Associate Professor of Forest IPM
Alabama A & M University
Department of Plant and Soil Sciences
P. O. Box 1208
Normal, AL 35762
Office Phone: 2568584249