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EPA Funds Program in Maine to Control Pesticide Risks in NH, VT and ME Schools

Release Date: 10/24/2002
Contact Information: Peyton Fleming, EPA Press Office, 617-918-1008

BOSTON - A Maine-based project aimed at controlling risks associated with using pesticides in Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine received a total of $40,000 this week from the US Environmental Protection Agency. This grant was one of two given out by EPA New England under its Pesticide Environmental Stewardship Program.

The Maine Department of Agricultural, Food and Rural Resources will use the EPA grant to help schools in the three northern New England states minimize the risk of handling pesticides in schools. The program, which will act as a national model, involves techniques called Integrated Pest Management (IPM).

"This project will help educators better manage pests in the schools without unnecessarily exposing children to risks posed by pesticides," said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator of EPA's New England Office. "With proper education, we can all learn how to eliminate harmful pests without making unnecessary pesticide applications and sacrificing the health of our environment or our children."

"We are pleased to have been awarded this grant, which will provide train-the-trainer education to expand the pool of people who can help schools to adopt IPM practices," said Kathy Murray, lead investigator on this project and an entomologist at the Maine Department of Agriculture, Food and Rural Resources. "This funding, and the partnership it has fostered among agencies and organizations from all three of our states, will go a long way toward assisting our schools in our small rural states to address pest and pesticide risks."

Murray said the funds would also be used to pay for a training workshop that would be telecast statewide to school staff and administrators. In addition, schools in each state will hold pilot IPM demonstrations, using a 'tool-kit' of educational materials.

The University of Maine Cooperative Extension has also received a $23,000 grant from EPA to help reduce the risk of pesticides. This grant was given through EPA's Food Quality Protection Act. This grant funds a two-year project aimed at developing a web site devoted to New England crops and pests. The Pest Management Information Network: Pro New England will showcase many other successful projects to manage pests and minimize the risks of pesticides.

The other PESP grant was awarded to a project based at the University of Connecticut aimed at controlling risks associated with using pesticides in growing pumpkins. In Connecticut, there is one pumpkin grown each year for every three people. New England is number three in the nation for pumpkins harvested for sale.

EPA this month announced a total of $550,000 for Pesticide Environmental Stewardship Program projects nationwide.