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  • Author or Editor: Victoria H. Wallace x
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Concern over the use of pesticides in public areas, such as schools, daycare centers, and parks, has prompted some state and local governments to severely restrict or ban pesticides in these locations. Connecticut currently has bans for daycare centers, school grounds with kindergarten through eighth grade classes, and playgrounds in municipal parks. This study was designed to understand general public awareness of these bans and the public sentiment for these additional bans. An online survey was conducted in late 2016 asking Connecticut residents about their levels of awareness of the current pesticide bans, and whether they supported the current ban or would support additional bans. Demographics and other individual characteristics/perceptions are used to explain whether a respondent knows there is a pesticide ban and if the respondent thinks there should be a pesticide ban. Only 7% of the respondents could correctly identify where pesticide bans are currently in place, with most respondents being unsure (74%) if a ban was, in fact, in place. No respondents correctly identified the location of the ban without also identifying an incorrect location as well. A large percentage of respondents indicated the state should have a pesticide ban, with those respondents supporting a ban across all locations listed. Pesticide bans on school grounds and athletic fields from kindergarten to 12th grade were strongly supported, with scores ranging from 85.9 to 86.6 on a 100-point scale, with 100 representing extreme support for pesticide bans. The results indicate that general awareness of the current pesticide ban, as well as knowledge of where current bans are in place, is low. Most respondents support a statewide ban that exceeds current Connecticut law.

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A mail survey was distributed to school turfgrass managers throughout Connecticut focusing on the differences between turfgrass management practices for kindergarten through eighth-grade (K-8) school grounds before, during, and after a 2010 ban on pesticide use at these facilities. The results indicate that as turf care protocol transitioned from an integrated pest management (IPM) program to new pesticide-free regulatory requirements, school grounds/athletic field managers did not significantly adjust their management programs. The percentage of managers applying pesticides on K-8 grounds decreased, as expected, with the implementation of the new pesticide ban; however, pesticide applications on high school grounds/athletic fields also decreased. Furthermore, it was observed that there had been minimal adoption of minimum risk 25(b) products, the suggested alternative to traditional synthetic pesticides. With respect to other cultural practices, we found that few changes have been made to other cultural practices that would improve turf quality. Budgetary issues facing school grounds/athletic field managers may have limited their ability to implement potentially costly management practices necessary to offset the loss of pesticides. Educational efforts to promote new management practices have the potential to inform school grounds/athletic field managers about new methods, thereby, potentially increasing adoption.

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This study examined how different presentation formats affected knowledge gain among school grounds managers. Results indicate large-group participants (presentation to ≈50 participants at a turfgrass field day) had greater knowledge retention than small-group participants (presentation to 6–10 participants at an interactive workshop). Small-group attendees had more flexibility to discuss issues that affected them directly and may have focused on those issues instead of the targeted information. Large-group meetings were more ridged in format and attendees were less able to deviate from the main subject matter being presented. However, the value of the small-group meeting should not be discounted, especially when athletic field grounds managers and staff require information specific to their situation. When disseminating more general information, the large-group meeting format is a better means of delivery.

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