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Exemplary Pesticide Programs

Annual pesticide programming excellence awards are sponsored by the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. These are presented at the annual pesticide safety educators workshop to teams and individuals who are nominated by their peers for their excellent programs in pesticide safety, disposal and recycling throughout Virginia.

2015 Award Winners

On September 9, 2015, the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) recognized 20 Virginia Cooperative Extension agents and specialists for their outstanding participation in the pesticide container recycling program, the pesticide disposal program and pesticide safety education courses. The following agents were recognized for their outstanding performance during 2014 - 2015:

See the following link for the official press release on this year's awards:

2015 agent 6

VDACS Commissioner Sandra J. Adams presented each agent with a commemorative plaque and a gift basket of Virginia’s Finest products on behalf of the Office of Pesticide Services.

2015 Pesticide Safety Education Awards


2015 agent 5

First Place, Pesticide Safety Education – Adria Bordas, Fairfax; Kristin Buhls, Arlington; Debbie Dillion, Culpeper; Tim Ohlwiler, Fauquier; Beth Sastre-Flores, Loudoun and Paige Thacker, Prince William

The first place award recognized a team of agents who came together to identify and meet the training needs of the applicators in their area. These agents used hands-on activities and mini-presentations on multiple topics. This meeting style not only provided a lot of information on various topics, but it also kept the meeting moving and captured the participant’s attention.


Their creative methods ranged from having “Pesticide Safety Stations” to a “Round Robin” of mini talks of 5-10 minutes each. This program format was well received as indicated by evaluation comments and audience participation. Such comments as “…great subject that is often overlooked,” “…I have heard about these [topics] before, but seeing the pictures made a HUGE difference,” “…you have covered it all” certainly serve as a ringing endorsement from the participants as to the quality of the program.


2015 agent 4

Second Place, Pesticide Safety Education, Pesticide Applicator Recertification Course – Stephen Barts and Jamie Stowe, Pittsylvania County

The second place award recognizes a team of agents who built an interactive training meeting in a 50,000 square foot arena. They designed their program to be truly hands-on and visual to replicate real-world demonstrations with life-size teaching aids.


One reviewer wrote that these agents developed a unique teaching tool that was very innovative and required a huge amount of effort; this comment was further supported by the participants’ evaluations. Some comments received were, “demonstration…outside was excellent,” “LOVED the sprayer demo” and “live demo extra good.” These agents balanced their ingenuity and resources to develop an excellent program that had a very positive impact on recipients.


2015 agent 3

Third Place, Pesticide Safety Education, Private Pesticide Applicator Recertification Course - Steve Pottoroff of Carroll County, and Kevin Spurlin of Grayson County Extension

The third place award recognizes two agents who provided recertification meetings with information tailored to the specific needs of their growers. These agents used a combination of presentation methods and technology to keep those in attendance engaged in the training.


Comments from the program’s evaluation included “…very good class,” “…very informative, great demo.” Ninety-four percent of attendees rated this meeting as excellent or very good. One reviewer wrote, “their efforts just fit that of a perfectly done program….an excellent product.”


Pesticide Waste Disposal and Recycling Awards

(no photo - agents not present)

2014 Plastic Pesticide Container Recycling Program – Ursula Deitch, Northampton County, and Theresa Long, Accomack County

The year 2014 was another year of growth in the number of plastic pesticide containers offered for recycling, with a 28 percent increase in the total pounds recycled over the previous year. The 2014 total was approximately 128,000 pounds collected. Extension agents continually work to promote and expand their programs at the county level and are the driving force behind the continued growth and successful operation of this program.


This year’s winning agents not only worked to improve their program but were available and willing to assist as needed, whether in a neighboring county or with a last minute request to find a suitable site to store the chipped plastic that required an area large enough for a tractor trailer and an available forklift. Their ability to overcome these logistical obstacles goes above and beyond the norm and allowed the recycling crew to stay on schedule, benefitting not only the program but the other agents and localities that were ready and staffed for the next morning. Their dedication to the program led to a 44 percent increase in the amount of plastic collected from the previous year in their respective counties.


Since its inception, the recycling program has collected and granulated nearly 1.5 million pounds of plastic and because of the hard work of these agents and those like them, the program continues to grow.


2015 agent 2


Pesticide Disposal Program – Watson Lawrence, Chesapeake, and Roy Flanagan, Virginia Beach

The 2014 Pesticide Disposal Program was held in the Tidewater area of Virginia at 10 centrally located sites serving 18 participating counties and 15 participating cities. During the 2014 effort, more than 155,000 pounds of unwanted or unused pesticides were collected, bringing Virginia’s total amount of pesticides collected to well over 1.3 million pounds since the program’s inception.


The success of the pesticide disposal program depends on the coordinated efforts of many organizations. Among those organizations, Virginia Cooperative Extension has the important responsibility of local program coordination.


This year’s award goes to a team of agents who exhibited both cooperation and collaboration, including local coordination and site selection and notifying agricultural producers, industry, gardener and grower groups, and homeowners of the availability of the pesticide disposal program. These agents’ efforts were not limited to establishing and promoting the program within their counties but also working to assist in identifying and facilitating on-site collections in situations where there were no other safe alternatives. Furthermore, when a rain event threatened the outdoor collection event, they were able to get access to a facility that morning which would allow the program to operate under a roof with each agent taking a turn at the initial site ensuring all participants found their way to the new and improved collection location.


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