Mosquito Education

The following is taken wholly from Chapter 12 (Education, Extension, and Outreach) in the Florida Mosquito Control White Paper developed by the Florida Coordinating Council on Mosquito Control. 1998. Florida Mosquito Control: The state of the mission as defined by mosquito controllers, regulators, and environmental managers. University of Florida; Vero Beach, FL, USA

EDUCATION, EXTENSION, AND OUTREACH

This chapter describes the needs for and the implementation methods used to educate and inform mosquito control workers, related professionals, and the pubic about matters related to mosquito control in Florida. We described the organizations involved, the media, and mechanisms used and the nature of the information communicated.

12.1 INTRODUCTION

An important component of Florida mosquito control is to decrease illiteracy of mosquito control workers, other professionals, and the general public on matters related to mosquito biology, ecology, relationship to disease, and control. Three methods, education, extension, and outreach, accomplish this.

12.2 EDUCATION

Education focuses on increasing the professionalism of all mosquito control workers. Four agencies dedicate significant time to this effort: The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS), Bureau of Entomology and Pest Control, the Florida Mosquito Control Association (FMCA), the Florida Medical Entomology Laboratory (FMEL) of the University of Florida, and the John A. Mulrennan, Sr. Arthropod Research Laboratory (JAMSARL) of Florida Agriculture and Mechanical University (FAMU).

12.2.1 Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services

The FDACS' Bureau of Entomology and Pest Control is the principle certifier of mosquito control personnel in the public health category of certified pesticide applicators. The bureau offers three to five one- or two-day workshops throughout the state each year. The purpose of the workshop is to prepare people to take and pass the Public Health Certification exam. The bureau offers two types of certification: Basic and advanced. Only the basic exam is needed to become certified. The advanced exam was designed for those who wish to test their knowledge beyond the basic level. These classes are offered free of charge.

12.2.2 Florida Mosquito Control Association

FMCA, through its Education Coordination Committee (ECC), is the primary agency that provides training in mosquito biology and control beyond the basic level. The ECC, formed in 1995 in response to an increasing demand for general and specialized training and as a solution to integrating the many association educational projects, currently has an annual budget of $65,000 to fund educational projects of its nine subcommittees.

The principle subcommittee is the Dodd Short Course Subcommittee that organizes and presents three types of courses: Plenary, Regional, and Specialty. The Plenary Dodd Short Courses consist of 15 to 30, - to 4-day courses, all held during one week each January or February. The courses are designed for a specific group such as new employees, clerical staff, biologists and entomologist, inspector-sprayers, administrators, computer personnel, mechanics and equipment operators, and directors of mosquito control programs. The courses cover a wide range of topics related to mosquito control, but each year a few non-mosquito related courses are offered to increase the general abilities of mosquito control staff. Examples of such courses include Public Speaking, Myers-Briggs personality evaluation, Stormwater Certification, and computer applications software. Most courses have enrollment maximum enrollments and emphasize student participation. Fieldwork is included in many biology courses.

Principally, volunteer employees of mosquito control programs, university faculty and staff, state agency staffs, manufacturer and distributor representatives, and others teach the Dodd Plenary Short Courses. The non-mosquito related courses are often contracted with a private consultant for a fee.

Each course carries 1 to 16 continuing education units (CEUs) for recertification in either the public health or aquatics categories of the Florida Pesticide Applicator Certification program that is managed by FDACS, Bureau of Entomology and Pest Control.

Plenary Dodd Short courses currently cost $30 per half day. Annual attendance averaged over 285 people per year over the past four years, and in 1996 the 23 courses brought in over $35,000. The vast majority of this money is used to finance the Plenary Dodd Short Courses; the remainder is used to finance projects of several other ECC Subcommittees.

The Dodd Short Course Subcommittee also organizes regional short courses and specialty short courses. The Regional Short Courses supplement the plenary courses and are intended for mosquito control programs that have limited travel budgets that prevent them from taking advantage of the plenary courses. Regional courses are designed for a specific group of mosquito control personnel, particularly veteran inspector-sprayers who work in a region of the state such as the southwest or Panhandle. However, courses can be arranged for any group needing training. While attendance is not limited to employees in the region, the principal attendee works within a one-hour commute to the course site. Regional courses are organized and presented when requested by mosquito control program directors, have tuition, and are designed to provide CEUs for certified applicators.

Specialty Dodd Short Courses deal with a specific and often highly technical topic, such as "Recent Advances in Aerial Application of Mosquitocides" and "Geographic Information Systems" for mosquito control. The instructors are typically out-of-state experts who are not available during the plenary short Course week or whose subject is of interest to many who teach at the plenary courses. Attendance is open, but most specialty course attendees are directors, supervisory personnel, and specialists. Specialty courses have a tuition, usually carry CEUs for certified pesticide applicators, and are organized as opportunities arise or by request to the ECC. The Aerial Training Subcommittee of the ECC is responsible for developing training courses and manuals, fly-ins, and specialty short courses that meet the mosquito control related needs of pilots and other aerial-application personnel. These courses also have tuition and carry CEUs in the public health and/or aerial categories.

12.2.3 Florida Medical Entomology Laboratory

University of Florida/IFAS, FMEL, in Vero Beach, offers ad hoc SkillShops on special topics of interest to mosquito control personnel. In recent years, FMEL offered three one-week SkillShops in "The Use of Dot-PCR for Detecting EEE and SLE Viruses in Mosquitoes" and a two-week Spanish-language course on "The Biology and Control of Mosquito Vectors." The Laboratory also offers a two-week "Advanced Medical Entomology" course every two or three years. This course is intended to acquaint new mosquito control directors and upper-level supervisors with the work being conducted at the lab in the context of an advanced course in mosquito biology and mosquito-borne disease ecology. The lab also offers every two or three years, during the university winter break, a two-week course for medical entomology graduate students from northern universities.

12.2.4 John A. Mulrennan Sr. Arthropod Research Laboratory

Florida Agriculture & Mechanical University, JAMSARL, in Panama City, provides an annual training event on public health arthropod control during one week each February. The activity rotates every year as either a hands-on laboratory and field-based workshop or a full formal conference with invited speakers. It provides continuing education for personnel in public health arthropod control in the southeastern states. JAMSARL also offers monthly technology transfer seminars on timely topics of interest to researchers and control personnel in north Florida. These are typically one to two hours in length and are provided by a wide range of speakers.

12.2.5 Industry Short Courses

Some mosquito control distributors offer free ad hoc short courses open to their customers and to other mosquito control personnel. These courses often also carry CEUs for the Public Health Certification.

12.3 EXTENSION

Beyond courses, the FMCA, University of Florida-FMEL, and FAMU-JAMSARL offer other extension services to assist Florida mosquito control programs. These services vary from producing a monthly newsletter to conducting multi-year research on specific problems. The Wing Beats Magazine Subcommittee of the ECC publishes a quarterly trade magazine for mosquito control professionals. It is currently distributed to approximately 3,000 people in the United States, Canada, Latin America, and overseas. This 28-page color magazine contains articles of interest to operational mosquito control personnel. Advertising has fully supported the production and distribution of the magazine since its inception in 1990, yet advertisements take up no more than half the pages. In fact, the magazine operates in the black, and, along with the Dodd Plenary Short Courses, supports the other educational projects of the ECC.

Since 1990, the FMEL, in cooperation with FDACS' Bureau of Entomology and Pest Control and the FMCA, has produced and distributed a monthly newsletter, Buzz Words, to approximately 800 mosquito control managers in Florida and throughout the United States. This typically four-page newsletter contains short communications on all aspects of mosquito biology and control, including announcements of meetings, significant changes in personnel, employment opportunities, news items, obituaries, and official mailings of the FMCA to its members. It is automatically sent to FMCA members but is available to anyone in the United States free of charge by the ECC. The Journal is a repository for scientific articles, abstracts, short communications about the biology and control of mosquitoes, obituaries, and FMCA meeting proceedings. Since Wing Beats magazine began, the submission of scientific papers has decreased; thus, the future role of the journal in the FMCA is uncertain.

FMCA Agency Profiles is another publication of a Subcommittee of the ECC. This loose-leaf notebook includes thumbnail sketches of each agency in FMCA that wishes to participate. At present it contains profiles on 30 Florida and 1 Georgia mosquito control programs. Each Profiles contains information on key personnel, target insects, research and development, public relations/education, control methods, equipment, and chemical usage. It is updated periodically and is available free to any participating agency and for $50 to others.

12.4 ASSISTANCE TO MOSQUITO CONTROL PROGRAMS

University of Florida/FMEL faculty, FAMU /JAMSARL faculty, scientists at the USDA Center for Medical, Agricultural, and Veterinary Entomology (CMAVE) in Gainesville, and mosquito control district personnel work with or assist many other mosquito control programs on research and demonstration projects of mutual interest. Projects are numerous and varied and range from computer system setup, equipment repair and calibration, characterizing mosquito problems, evaluating control methods to conducting arbovirus surveillance. The larger and wealthier programs are especially helpful to neighboring smaller and poorer programs.

At present, networking among mosquito control programs is limited to county programs or mosquito control districts. Mosquito control programs operated by one or two people who have other, often more time-consuming duties and responsibilities are not adequately included in the loop of information exchange, other than that provided by FDACS' Bureau of Entomology and Pest Control training program.

12.5 OUTREACH

Florida mosquito control programs have four primary methods to inform the public about the nature of their programs, the needs for and benefits of mosquito control, and the relationship between mosquito control and environmental and health agencies. These are school programs, talks before local clubs and groups, exhibits at local events, literature, house calls, and public service announcements.

School programs range from two full-time teachers on staff to ad hoc presentations to classes, on request. The Lee County Mosquito Control District (LCMCD) pays the salary of two full-time teachers employed by the Lee County School Board. These educators teach multiple classes and instruct teachers on how to present exercises that include major components on the control of mosquitoes. Classes are presented to fifth-, seventh- and tenth-grade science students. More typical of school programs are one- to two-hour presentations by one or more mosquito control employees who have other duties. These lessons often have a field component and typically focus on third-, fourth-, and fifth-grade classes. The lessons are as varied as the people who teach them.

All countywide districts and most smaller mosquito control programs have staff members who make presentations to local clubs and special interest groups on request. Several years ago, a mosquito biology and control speakers list was proposed, but the idea was never developed. All programs have a telephone number that citizens may call to request spraying or find out more about the mosquito control program. Several programs advertise this number and even notify the media of when and where spraying will be conducted for the next day or week. Leon County Mosquito Control has a unique way of informing the public. They take a school program one step further by using school children as the talent in a TV-based public service announcement series that has been very effective in educating the public about containerbreeding mosquitoes that are a major problem in Tallahassee.

Many programs develop their own literature or use literature developed by FDACS, FMEL, and JAMSARL to inform citizens how they can assist in controlling mosquitoes, what services they offer, and how citizens can take advantage of their services. Literature may be distributed as door knob-hangers, bookmarks, or fact sheets and is made available in a variety of places, including bookstores, libraries, schools, banks, and other locations where the public is likely to be interested in literature

Several programs take advantage of space made available at local fairs and festivals by erecting an exhibit that educates people about mosquitoes and their control. The exhibit may be of their own making, one of two developed by FMEL for use by local programs, or one developed by another program. Literature related to the exhibit may or may not be available for visitors to take with them.

The thrust of all these public education programs is to let the public know that they can effectively help prevent mosquitoes in urban areas by eliminating breeding sites in their yards. The ECC Subcommittee on Public Information also works on several statewide projects. One is the development of a loose-leaf notebook, Common Questions about Mosquito Control. Those who answer the telephone will distribute this to each FMCA member program for use. The Subcommittee also coordinates a mosquito control exhibit at the state fair and is re-doing the two exhibits which any mosquito control program may use free of charge.