Three, 2-day hands-on experiential learning workshops were presented in three southeastern United States cities in June 2014, by the Southern Nursery Integrated Pest Management (SNIPM) working group. Attendees were provided 4 hours of instruction including hands-on demonstrations in horticultural management, arthropods, plant diseases, and weeds. Participants completed initial surveys for gains in knowledge, skills, and abilities as well as their intentions to adopt various integrated pest management (IPM) practices after the workshop. After 3 years, participants were again surveyed to determine practice adoption. Respondents changed their IPM practice behavior because of attending the workshops. Those returning the survey set aside more time to scout deliberately for pests, plant diseases, and weeds; used a standardized sampling plan when scouting; and adopted more sanitation practices to prevent plant disease. Fewer horticultural management practices were adopted than respondents originally intended. Future emphasis should be placed on using monitoring techniques to estimate pest emergence, for example, traps and pheromone lures, as well as plant phenology and record keeping. However, more work is needed to highlight both the immediate and long-term economic benefits of IPM practice adoption in southeastern U.S. nursery production.
Extension and research professionals in the southeastern United States formed the Southern Nursery Integrated Pest Management working group (SNIPM) to foster collaboration and leverage resources, thereby enhancing extension programming, increasing opportunity, and expanding the delivery of specialized expertise to nursery crop growers across a region. Building a productive and lasting working group requires attracting a group of research and extension faculty with complementary expertise, listening to stakeholders, and translating stakeholder needs into grant priorities to help solve problems, all hallmarks of effective teamwork principles. SNIPM has now grown to include 10 U.S. states and 11 institutions and has been awarded seven grants totaling $190,994 since 2009. A striking benefit of working group membership was observed over time: synergy. Greater awareness of individual expertise among SNIPM members, each of whom were focused on different aspects of the nursery production system stimulated multistate extension publications, electronic books (eBooks), mobile device applications (apps), popular press articles, and spin-off research projects when separate foci were combined and directed toward complex challenges. Deliverables achieved from this faculty collaboration include nine peer-reviewed publications, four manuals and books and 23 book chapters, and a combined total of 11 abstracts, conference proceedings and extension publications. To date, the return on investment for SNIPM is one deliverable produced to every $2265.89 in grant funding. SNIPM has also been honored with multiple American Society for Horticultural Science publication awards as well as the Southern Region Integrated Pest Management Center Bright Idea Award for the quality and originality of their project outputs. Continuing to work together toward common goals that bridge technology and serve the nursery industry while supporting each individual member’s program will be crucial to the long-term success of this working group.