MDARD pesticide applicator recertification credits now available online

Pesticide applicators in Michigan can now keep their certifications current with minimal investment in time and travel.

In Michigan, those who wish to purchase or apply Restricted Use Pesticides (RUPs) must pass an exam to become a certified pesticide applicator. Once achieved, individual certifications are valid for a period of three years, at which point the applicator can retake the appropriate exams to maintain their status. Certified applicators can also elect to avoid reexamination and instead renew their certification by accumulating educational recertification credits during the three-year-certification period. Private applicators must secure 16 private core credits while commercial applicators need eight commercial core credits and eight additional credits for each category they are certified in (e.g., field crops, turf, etc.).

Traditionally, credits have only been offered to those attending in-person educational programs related to pest management, commonly held by Michigan State University Extension or industry representatives. Recently, however, credit offerings have expanded to include live and recorded online educational content. One example of these new online credit opportunities is the MSU Integrated Pest Management Academy Webinars catalog. This series of eight, half-hour, recorded online programs have been approved for a total of four MDARD recertification credits. Applicators can view these programs at any time, at their own pace, and claim one credit for every two webinars completed.

Live online programs are also being approved to offer recertification credits. This includes the upcoming 2014 MSU Extension Field Crops Webinar Series. On Monday evenings from Feb. 24 through March 31, MSU field crop specialists will address key production points for the coming growing season in a condensed virtual format. These live webinar programs will run from 7-8 p.m. EST and can be viewed independently at no cost online over a high-speed Internet connection. One MDARD pesticide recertification credit will be available through each event for application to the Private Core, Commercial Core or Field Crops categories.

For those that prefer to get out of the house or wish to avoid the computer, both of the online programs highlighted above are based on content from traditional, in-person programs available in coming weeks. The IPM Academy is a two-day workshop held annually in late winter. It is designed to prepare growers, consultants and public sector employees to implement an integrated and informed approach to pest management. The Field Crops Webinar Series is based on a statewide series of Field Crops IPM meetings also offered each winter.  

An updated listing of all programs approved for MDARD pesticide applicator recertification credits can be viewed online. It is not clear at this point what the future of online recertification credits will look like for Michigan pesticide applicators. Is online learning as valuable for applicators as traditional, in-person meetings? Could there be a limit imposed on the number or percent of credits earned remotely? As an educator, I certainly agree that it is easier to identify and engage a distracted student when they are physically present. Yet in today’s world, nothing beats the convenience and low cost of online programs.

Any questions regarding the MDARD pesticide applicator certification process can be directed to Faye Burns at 517-373-9752.