FAQ for Agents
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) by Extension Agents and Specialists regarding pesticide certification, pesticide related problems and solutions, and various other programmatic issues relating to VTPP.
- Where can I find a good source of images related to pesticides to use in building presentations and using on my web site?
- Virginia Tech Pesticide Programs (VTPP) developed and maintains the National Pesticide Media Database (PESTICIDEPICS.ORG).
Images on that database are free for any pesticide safety educator to use in their presentations or web sites as long as they give credit to VTPP and the photographer/source of each image used. These images can not be used for commercial purposes. To link to the database CLICK HERE.
- Where do I find PowerPoint presentations to use in my programs?
- First, VCE agents must login using their VT PID and password to access the Trainer Tools portion of this website.
Once agents have logged in they can access the PowerPoint Library.
Under the tab "Agent" at the top of this page.
--> Click "Trainer Tools"
--> Log in with your PID
--> Click "PowerPoint Library"
- I'm a new VCE agent/specialist. How do I get certified as a Commercial Applicator?
- VCE ANR agents need to be certified because they - teach pesticide safety courses (certification, recertification, etc.), - interpret and make pesticide use and pesticide safety recommendations, and - proctor* the Private Applicator pesticide examination. Specialists who conduct field research and make pesticide recommendations also must be certified.
Prospective Commercial Applicators take a Core (basic safety exam) and one or more category-specific exams. Extension agents need to take and pass the Commercial Core and the Demonstration and Research (10) exams.
Exam prerequisites are:
- 1 year as a certified Registered Technician in VA, or
- equivalent education, experience, or training.
People who have the credentials to become VCE agents or specialists have the second / education prerequisite; hence, no additional formal training is required. New agents (and others who qualify to sit for the CA exams) should:
1. obtain and study the training manuals on which the examinations are based,
2. apply to the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services / Office of Pesticide Services for exam authorization (application fee wiaved for government employees), and
3. take the exams within 90 days of receiving the authorization letter.
People can take the exams at any DMV with a customer service center (those that give driver tests on touch-screen computers) OR make an appointment at one of the +/- 12 "paper and pencil" exam centers around the state.
There should be copies of both the VA Core and the Category 10 manuals in each Unit Office, as well as Commercial Applicator certification packets w/ forms. If you need help locating any of these materials, contact VT Pesticide Programs.
- How can I get mailing lists / mailing labels for certified Private Applicators in my County/PD, or status reports for certified Private Applicators?
- VDACS can provide you with status reports and mailing labels for your use when planning and announcing your private applicator recertification programs. Please remember to ask for them in a timely manner!
FAQ: How can I get mailing lists / mailing labels for certified Private Applicators in my County/PD, or status reports for certified Private Applicators?
Category: VCE Agent / Specialist
VDACS can provide you with status reports and mailing labels for your use when planning and announcing your private applicator recertification programs. The Office of Pesticide Services has a standard form for such requests. Please use this form, and remember to ask for lists/labels in a timely manner! (OPS needs ~ two weeks to process requests.)
(To access the form, log in and go to Agent Services/Trainer Tools/Certification and Recertification Information...page down to find the "Mailing List/Label Request" section, and click on the VA-Certified Applicator List/Label Request *.pdf document.)
Status Reports list grower name, address, category or categories, certificate expiration date*, and training expiration date (by category)**.
*This is the expiration date of the card the grower currently has in his/her possession. Remember, new certificates are not printed until the existing one expires. So, a grower who has accumulated credit will automatically get a new certificate after the first of the year.
**This shows how much recertification credit a grower has accumulated.
VDACS can provide status reports and/or mailing labels for all certified Private Applicators in a county (or counties), or only those growers whose certificates expire in a given year.
The VDACS Office of Pesticide Services contact for mailing labels is:
Sherri Boardley, CLRT Receptionist
phone: (804) 786-3798
fax: (804) 786-9149
Sherri realizes that many agents and groups of agents conduct multi-county programs. Coordinating your requests for status reports and mailing labels will save her a great deal of time and effort.
Please be sure that all private applicators get a mailing from VCE re: course availability. However please avoid requesting duplicate or unnecessary information.
Please review these lists/status reports when you get them, and alert VDACS if you know corrections are needed -- for example, if you know a mailing address has changed.
IF you wish, VDACS can send mailing lists to you -- or to Bobby Swain at the EDC -- in electronic form.
For specifics about EDC services, contact Bobby Swain: (firstname.lastname@example.org).
If you send a print job to VT Printing Services, you can specify on the IPR that you want the printed materials to go to the EDC for mailing.
(The EDC’s handling fees are less than what printing services charges for both bulk rate [>200 pieces] and first class presorted [> 500 pieces].)
In general: if the job involves < 200 pieces and you want the items sent first-class, no savings by working with the EDC…best to handle locally. HOWEVER, if the mailing involves > 200 pieces, it may be worth your while to contact Bobby Swain and work w/ the EDC, assuming you can plan far enough ahead.
The advantages of having the EDC handle mailings for you include:
- Transferring workload (prep time) from your Unit to the EDC
- Saving $$ (reduced postal rates for “mass” mailings)
- Updating mailing lists (EDC software can identify many “bad” addresses -- any that cannot be +4-coded)
The DISadvantage is that you must give Printing Services and the EDC enough lead time to do the job.
All undeliverable mail (in “standard issue” VCE/VT “Official Business” envelopes) comes back to the EDC. The EDC staff then attempts to return it to the county (PAs names and addresses from Unit-generated lists) or to VDACS (CA/RT names and addresses in VDACS’ database). If you identify an incorrect or change of address, notify OPS and update your records…this will save both agencies time and money.
- I'm planning a commercial applicator recertification program, and would like to get mailing labels for interested parties. How can I do this?
- VDACS can provide you with mailing labels or lists for your use when planning and announcing recertification programs. Please remember to ask for them in a timely manner!
VDACS can provide you with mailing labels or lists for your use when planning and announcing recertification programs. Please use the form VDACS Office of Pesticide Services produced for such requests -- and remember to ask for lists and labels in a timely manner! (OPS needs ~ two weeks to process requests.)
(To access the label/list request form, log in -- and go to Agent Services/Trainer Tools/Certification and Recertification Information. Page down to find the "Mailing List/Label Request" section, and click on the VA-Certified Applicator List/Label Request *.pdf document.)
VDACS can sort the applicator database in several ways to provide you with the information you need...for example, all the people certified in Categories 3A and 3A in selected counties whose certificates will expire in a given year.
Please fax your requests to Sherri Boardley at VDACS Office of Pesticide Services. Feel free to call her if you have questions.
FAX #: (804) 786-9149
Telephone #: (804) 786-3798
- What is appropriate -- and inappropriate -- use of the Private Applicator exam by authorized VCE agent faculty and staff proctors?
- The Private Applicator exam is intended to be taken by growers who: - need/intend to use restricted-use pesticides (RUPs) to produce an agricultural commodity, and - producers who need to give Worker Protection Standard (WPS) training to workers or uncertified pesticide handlers they employ.
The Private Applicator exam answer sheet serves as their application. Once the exam is scored and posted in VDACS Office of Pesticide Services' database, anyone passing will be issued a credential that allows them legal access to restricted-use pesticides. In addition, VDACS will track their record and communicate with them via status report mailings, etc.
For this reason, VDACS Office of Pesticide Services asks that all
designated exam proctors and alternates take seriously their
responsibility to establish the age, identity, and occupational
need/reason for anyone who takes the exam.
- Because designated proctors act as agents for VDACS when administering an exam, and are an important link in exam security and the control of access to restricted-use pesticides, proctor privileges cannot be delegated to others.
- Note that VDACS does not expect agent faculty or unit staff to give people who claim to be prospective growers the "3rd degree" prior to administering the PA exam. However, as a rule, agents know their clients. If you have concerns about a person's PA certification giving them access to RUPs, notify VDACS when you mail in the exam answer sheet. Information of this nature will be confidential. Examples of concerns might be those relating to homeland security / terrorism or other malicious use(s) of restricted-use pesticides.
Here are some "scenarios" describing inappropriate use(s):
- all members of a high school or college course, and
- all members of a Master Gardener course.
For example, the PA exam should not be used to free a high school or college course instructor from writing and administering a pesticide safety exam for a class. Students involved in family agricultural production operations, or who intend to start a production enterprise should be encouraged to make an appointment to take the PA certification exam at their local Extension Office. (That way, students who take a course as an elective but whose career path does not involve agriculture will not become certified.) Also, students who take a horticultural course at the high school or college level may be planning to work in landscaping or turf management...not in agricultural production. Pesticide handlers who work for lawn care and/or landscape firms, for parks and recreation sites, on golf courses, or in sports turf management need to be certified as Commercial Applicators or Registered Technicians -- NOT as Private Applicators. Encouraging or obliging such a student to become a certified Private Applicator misrepresents Virginia certification requirements. Worse yet, once on the job, the student may be cited for violating state certification regulations.
Items to note:
- Exams must be administered by designated proctors ONLY.
- Counties can update their proctor and alternate designations. Contact Office of Pesticide Services or VT Pesticide Programs if you need another copy of the proctor designation form.
- Multiple choice format "practice tests" based on the 12 Units of the VA Core Manual are posted on the VTPP website, in a section only VCE agents can access. Agents who wish to work with a high school or college teacher to construct a pesticide safety test may find these helpful.
- VCE agents can make arrangements to administer the Private
Applicator exam to a group of prospective certified Private Applicators if/when appropriate.
- Contact VDACS/OPS for additional copies of exam booklets and a supply of answer ("bubble") sheets. (Do not make copies of booklets on hand in your Unit office.)
- What resources are available for pesticide safety programs?
- What's on-line? What's out in the field, and where?
Explore the "Trainer Tools" and "Educator Workshops" sections of this website.
"Trainer Tools" include:
- electronic copies of "Educator Kits" -- subject area resource notebooks (print versions in white 3-ring binders in field Units):
- Hands-On Pesticide Safety Education Manual
- Personal Protective Equipment for Pesticide Applicators
- The Pesticide Handling Facility
- Pesticide Drift Minimization
- Pesticide Sprayer Calibration
- Pesticide Waste Minimization and Disposal
- Protecting Water Quality through Proper Pesticide Use
- Training modules (initial certification and recertification)
- PPT, A/V (mostly video), and image libraries
Miscellaneous support materials, including Core Manual practice tests (multiple choice format) and factsheets.
In addition to print and electronic resources, VTPP produces and acquires program support materials for agent to use in both initial certification and recertification programs. A current list of what's where can be found in the Resource Lists and Locations section of "Trainer Tools".
"Educator Workshops" section lists agendas of previous in-service sessions. For sessions those held starting w/ 1997, if a presenter was willing and able to share his/her PPT (or notes or other materials), it/they are posted next to the title/speaker name, where agents can dowload them. Speaker contact information is also listed (at the end).
- What training manuals are in each unit?
- What Applicator Training Manuals (initial certification/commercial category) should be in every VCE Field Unit? What's the policy on use/distribution of PAT Manuals?
Every VCE Field Unit Office should have:
- an Instructor's Core Manual (Applying Pesticides Correctly), which is in a 3-ring binder. The binder contains the text of the "for sale" version of the Core + program information and support materials. Updates and additions are distributed as needed.
- a Category 10 (Demonstration and Research) manual, 2003.
Category manuals are distributed at no charge only to those agents who are doing certification prep (initial training) courses for a specific category.
Agents who wish to have one or more Commercial Applicator category manuals for desk references should purchase it/them.
Even at cost, putting a copy of 21 Commercial Applicator category manuals in each Unit would cost hundreds of dollars … x 107 Units = thousands of dollars. Many of these category-specific manuals would be of little or no use; for example, a Public Health Pest Control manual in SW VA or a Forest Pest Control manual in Accomack or Northampton.
These manuals are written to support the competency exams leading to pesticide applicator certification in a specific category. Very few agents do initial training for some specialized CA categories -- Wood-Destroying, Structural Fumigation, Seed Treatment, Vertebrate Pest Control (Excluding Structural Invaders), Sewer Root Pest Control, and Wood Preservation/Products Treatment, to cite a few examples. Agents who are not training prospective CAs in a category but want one or more manuals for reference should buy it/them. (For example, ANSC specialty agents may find the 1B - Ag Pest Animal manual of interest; CSS specialty agents may be interested in a copy of 1A- Ag Pest Plant.)
We ask agents NOT to loan manuals -- neither ones they receive for free nor ones they purchase with Unit funds. This is because VTPP uses the income from manual sales to reprint, edit, and revise the set ... and it hurts those processes if field agents are reducing sales volumes by lending manuals. (Also, experience has shown that many "loaners" don't come back...so we're asked to re-supply field units, which also hurts our manual fund!)
We ask agents who request manuals because they're planning an initial training session for prospective applicators to post class information on the VTPP website under Pesticide Applicator Information/Certification Prep - Training Courses.
- What about private applicator exam procedures?
- What materials and procedures should be in every VCE Unit regarding proctoring the Private Applicator certification exam?
In delegating this responsibility to VCE, VDACS Office of Pesticide Services provides the following:
- guidelines for exam security and proctor procedures,
- instructions for testers,and
- proctor designation form.
In addition, field Units should have copies of:
- the PA exam question booklets. As of 10/05, the version in use is Version 2, dated January, 1995.)
- exam answer ("bubble") sheets. The answer sheets in use as of this writing (10/05) are printed w/ green ink, 1-sided, and entitled VDACS Private Pesticide Applicator Certification Exam (Copyright 2003).
If/when staffing changes affect the designated exam proctor or alternate, re-submit an updated proctor designation form to VDACS OPS.
If you need extra copies of any of the guideline documents (test-takers or proctors), proctor designation form, or "bubble" answer sheets, contact either VDACS Office of Pesticide Services or VT Pesticide Programs. If you need additional copies of exam booklets (or want to exchange worn, damaged, or marked-up booklets), contact VDACS OPS.
(DO NOT make copies of exam questions or exam booklets!)
Background: Proctor and Alternate selection
Exam proctors and/or alternates do not have to be ANR agents. It may be best if at least one person -- designated proctor or alternate -- is someone who is in the office most of the time, like a UAA or program support technician.
- How do I locate Pesticide Labels & MSDS on the Internet?
- How do I find resources of pesticide labels and material safety data sheets on the Internet? I understand that these materials are not a substitute for actual container labels and that I need to communicate this issue to my clientele.
First of all, please make sure that if you are giving pesticide recommendations to the public that you follow the latest version of the Virginia Pest Management Guide. Labels that are available online are there for reference only - they are not a substitute for the product label. The fine print on these labels defines them as SAMPLE or SPECIMEN labels. You will notice that the legal department of the manufacturer warns users of these labels thoroughly in this regard.
On our database (pesticidelinks.org) we have tagged many of the sources we use for pesticide label and MSDS searches. If you go to that database and click on these keywords at the bottom of the page they will come up with many of these sources. A direct link to these searches is as follows:
- Can I recommend "home-brew" pesticides?
- Can ANR agents or specialists advise clients to make -- or recommend the use of -- "home-brew" pesticides?
From VDACS Office of Pesticide Services (11/2008):
Because only registered pesticides may be used in Virginia, making and applying a "home-made concoction" as a pesticide is illegal.
As such, giving "recipes" for or recommending the use of "home-made" pesticides is not appropriate due to the potential liability to all parties involved. Aside from safety considerations (ex. what would be the appropriate PPE for using such a product?), such recommendations would be suggesting an illegal act (the use of an unregistered pesticide) in Virginia, putting someone who takes this advice in legal jeopardy.