Perspectives Online

Termite technician training aims to meet high demand

At the outdoor training pavilion, Patty Adler (right) instructs pest control technicians.
Photo by Suzanne Stanard

Pest management training in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences has a new face.

Patty Alder, who earned her master’s degree from the Department of Entomology in 2004, recently returned to the department as a training coordinator. She’ll work in the College’s new Structural Pest Management Training and Research Center, located at the Lake Wheeler Road Field Laboratory.

In December, Alder, along with Dr. Mike Waldvogel, North Carolina Cooperative Extension entomology specialist, conducted the first training class at the center, for termite technicians. It sold out in less than 24 hours, and participants traveled from as far as Manteo and Southport to attend.

According to Alder, demand is high for more courses.

Adler credits the course’s popularity in large part to the College’s one-of-a-kind training facility. The new Structural Pest Management Training and Research Center boasts a unique outdoor training pavilion and state-of-the art indoor classrooms.

“The pavilion contains more than 50 stations with numerous full-size construction elements and soil types,” Alder says. “This outdoor classroom provides a firsthand look at how structures are put together and how that relates to structural pest infestations and treatments.”

With half-finished foundation walls and bare wood frames, the training pavilion offers a glimpse into the “bones” of a building, inviting participants to figure out which pest control techniques will work in different scenarios.

The nearby indoor classroom is equipped with microscopes for training in pest identification, biology and management, Alder says. Wireless Internet connectivity makes it easy for trainees to learn Web-based techniques. “These are all factors that draw people to our courses,” she says.

“Our inaugural course was designed to provide pest control technicians with advanced hands-on training on termite control technologies,” Waldvogel says. “In turn, this means the consumer benefits by receiving quality service from better-trained technicians.”

The program was a collaborative effort of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and the North Carolina Pest Management Association. 

Fresh from a position as technical director for Clegg’s Termite & Pest Control, Alder says she is excited about her new role in the College and has big goals to expand pest management training.

“Future classes will include pest identification and management workshops for ants, roaches, stored product pests, bedbugs and other structural pests,” she says. “Dr. Waldvogel and I will also be developing a class for advanced termite technicians as well as fumigation training. Eventually, we’d like to offer online training.”

The Lake Wheeler Road Field Laboratory made available a nearby house on the property that Alder and other trainers now use for an inspection and graphing exercise, just as technicians would do as part of the job. This hands-on experience is “far more valuable than paper exercises in textbooks,” she says.

“We hope to provide training to important groups that serve the public’s needs, including regulatory and compliance personnel, architects and builders, home inspectors and real estate agents,” Alder adds. “Really, the opportunities for training are endless.”

— Suzanne Stanard