Lesson Plan for Pesticide Applicator Training
Pesticide applicator trainees solve a problem together and learn how to make pesticide use decisions. 
1. To help the applicator learn how to use pesticides safely by understanding the pesticide label.
2. To motivate applicators to adopt safety practices.
Time required
45 minutes.
Materials Needed:
Name cards or badges for you and members of the audience.
Flip chart & tape for audiences less than 50.  Overhead projector for larger audiences.
Markers for audiences less than 50.  Slips of paper and pencils for larger audiences.
4 empty containers with simulated pesticide labels
Kitchen timer
     The ABC's of a Pesticide Label
     Making Pesticide Applicator Decisions from the Label
     "Put Safety into Practice" evaluation forms printed as 3-part NCR.
Before the Lesson:
     Make simulated pesticide containers. Print 4 "labels" and attach to the containers:
Zappo 2EC with a danger signal word
Zappo 4EC with a danger signal word
Blammo with a warning signal word
Kill-em with a caution signal word.
Lesson Procedure:
  • Trainees are presented with a problem to solve.
  • Trainees generate a list of questions needed to solve problem.
  • The speaker describes the parts of the pesticide label.
  • Trainees determine which parts of the label were used to solve the problem.
  • Trainees list those parts of the label they neglected to use in solving the problem.
  • The speaker describes the take home activity and administers the evaluation.
Speaker's Directions and Script
Before the lesson begins
For audiences of less than 50, pass out name badges or name cards and markers. Encourage everyone to write their first name large enough so that you can read their names from the front of the room. Don't forget your own badge or card.

Outline the lesson on the flip chart or overhead:
Problem solving exercise 
Review parts of the pesticide label
Take home activity

Audience warm-Up (Speaker's comments are in quotation marks)
Put members of the audience into pairs. Ask them to, "Tell your partner what you do in your job with pesticides." Allow only 2-3 minutes, then begin the lesson. Use a kitchen timer or turn the lights on/off when time is up. This exercise is a critical part of the lesson. The members of the audience need to feel comfortable talking in the classroom and they need to feel comfortable with each other to do this lesson. They need to feel that the classroom is a safe environment. This lesson works best when given at the end of a series of PAT modules.

Problem solving exercise (Speaker's comments are in quotation marks)
"Here is a problem for you to solve:
You are the pesticide applicator at the Green Hills Golf Course. Your boss calls you in and says that the CEO of DuPont will be playing the course next week and there are bugs in the turf on the 9th hole. He wants you to get right over there and take care of the problem. So you go to the pesticide storage facility & open the door. You need to decide which pesticide to use. How do you do this? What questions do you ask yourself to decide which pesticide to use? What do you need to know before you can make a pesticide application?"

For audiences less than 50:
Hand a marker to a member of the audience and ask him/her to record the audiences' questions on the flip chart. If you use the applicator's first name and hand him/her the marker, they will be willing to help out. It works every time. Hand the roll of masking tape to another applicator, call on them by name, and ask them to tape the sheets on the wall as they fill up. It works every time. Volunteer yourself as the "spell checker."

For audiences over 50:
Have the trainees write their questions on slips of papers.  Arrange for facilitators to collect the papers.  Read some of the submitted questions while a facilitator writes the questions on an overhead projector.

Typical questions that will be generated:
Will the pesticide kill the bug?
Can I use it on turf?
Is it harmful to people?
Will it hurt the environment?
What PPE is needed?
How much do I apply?
How do I mix it?
When do I apply it?
Where do I apply it?
How do I apply it?

Keep saying that the questions are very good. Support the efforts of the applicators.

"Now we are going to set our lists of questions aside for a minute and look at the handout, 'The ABC's of a Pesticide Label'." Put the flip chart to the side. Pass out the handout. Give the members of the audience time to look at their handout while you say, "Be sure to read the label 5 times: 
Before you buy the product
before you store it
before you mix & load
before you apply, and again
before you dispose of the empty container."

"This handout lists every part of the label. I'm going to emphasize certain sections:" The script that follows is abbreviated. Pesticide Coordinators can elaborate and modify this script to meet state-specific issues. 

C. Formulation
"(hold up a container) The formulation tells you what the pesticide looks like when it pours out of the jug. You must match the formulation with your application equipment. If the formulation is a granule, you need to use a drop spreader. If the formulation is a liquid, you need a pump-up sprayer, hose end sprayer or other liquid sprayer. Some of your pesticides will be 'ready to use' so you won't need equipment."

"You must also match the formulation with the pest problem. If you have a leaf-eating insect, a granular formulation won't help. The granules won't stick to the leaves. You need to use a liquid or a dust that will stick to the leaves. If you are treating broadleaf weeds in the lawn, you can use a granular formulation."

"The formulation also tells you how concentrated the pesticide is. Zappo 2EC (hold up container) has 2 pounds of active ingredient in each gallon. Zappo 4EC (hold up container) has 4 pounds in each gallon. Wait a minute!! This is interesting!! (point to the cap) Zappo 4EC is the same price as Zappo 2EC. How many of you say you'll buy 4EC?? You get twice as much for the same price!!" Take a vote. Most likely no one will vote for either formulation because they know it is a trick question. Explain the dangers of holding more inventory than you can use. Emphasize that a "2 for 1 sale" can be expensive if EPA cancels the product and you have to dispose of unwanted pesticide.

D. Type of pesticide: insecticide, herbicide, fungicide, nematacide, rodenticide, moluscicide, avicide, picescide.
"You must also match the type of pesticide to the pest." Review the types of pesticides and the pests they kill.

H.  EPA numbers
"These numbers tell you that the product is legal. Before a company can begin to sell a pesticide they must submit results of laboratory experiments to EPA. Once EPA has reviewed the documents, they register (not approve) the pesticide and give it a number. If you do not see an EPA number on a product that makes pesticidal claims (kills or repels pests), that product is illegal."

I.  Signal word 
"There are 3 signal words. These words tell you how toxic the product is to you the applicator, not to the pest (hold up containers):
Danger, the most toxic
Warning, less toxicity
Caution, lowest toxicity." 

"Here is a problem for you: You have a beetle grub in turf. Let's look at the Zappo label (hold container up with danger signal word). It says beetle grubs on the label. Let's look at KILL-EM (hold container up with caution signal word). It also says beetle grubs on the label and my county agent said both products would work the same. But wait a minute!! Zappo is half the price of KILL-EM!! Wow!! What a deal!! How many of you say to buy Zappo??" Take a vote. Most likely no one will vote for either pesticide because they know it is a trick question. Explain why use you should use the pesticide with a caution signal word, even if it is more expensive. Emphasize that the signal word does not say how toxic the product is to the pest. The product with a danger signal word is not necessarily more effective.

Route of entry and Specific action statements
"This statement helps you pick PPE. There are 4 routes of entry: dermal, eyes, respiratory, ingestion. What are the sites of greatest absorption? (Answers: Groin, face, forehead.)
If the label says, 'fatal if swallowed,' what would you do? (Answers: don't eat, smoke or drink while handling. Use a face shield)
If the label says, 'don't breath vapors and mists,' what would you do? (Answers: use a respirator, stay upwind)
If the label says, 'don't get on skin,' what would you do? (Answers: Use chemically resistant gloves, fore arm protectors, aprons, tyvek suits)
If the label says, 'keep out of eyes,' what would you do? (Answers: wear goggles or face shield)."

J.  PPE 
"PPE means Personal Protective Equipment. Look for this section on the label, but also use the signal word, route of entry and specific action statements to help you choose PPE. The minimum PPE is long-sleeved shirt and long-legged pants."
"When mix/loading, the forearms get 13% of contamination from pesticide exposure. The hands get 85%. This adds up to 98% of exposure that could be completely avoided by wearing rubber gloves and forearm protection."
"What happens if you wear a baseball cap or leather work boots?" (Answer: They will absorb pesticides and continue to contaminate you every time you wear that item.)

K.  User safety recommendations
"Sometimes even the right PPE is not enough. Don't wipe your forehead, eat, smoke, drink while applying pesticides. Wash hands before toileting."

L.  First Aid
"You need to know first aid procedures before you have an accident. Keep a copy of the label on a clip board in the storage/ mixing/ loading area."

M.  Environmental hazards
"Pesticides may be hazardous to water, pollinating insects, birds, other wildlife. Make sure you plan ahead & scout the area."

N.  Directions for use
"You will use this section a lot. It explains when -- what time of year, what time of day -- and how you will make the application." 

P.  Storage and Disposal
"Always store pesticides in a locked, cool, dry, well ventilated, facility. The best facility has a sealed concrete floor and stainless steel shelves." 
"For disposal of unwanted pesticides, the label will probably not give you specific information. Your county may have a pesticide collection program. Check with your county extension agent, state environmental protection agency, or state department of agriculture for details."
"For disposal of empty containers, triple rinse or jet rinse and take to your recycle site or sanitary land fill." 

R.  Mixing directions:
"This section tells you how to mix - what solvents to use & how much."

S.  Approved uses:
"This is a very important section. Site - you can apply a pesticide only to a site listed on the label. Here is a quick quiz:
You have a problem with downy mildew in the golf course roses. Here is Blammo. (Hold up the container) It says it kills downy mildew pretty well. It lists mums, azalia, and ferns on the label. Can you use on roses?" 
Take a "Thumbs up/Thumbs down" vote & then explain that the site, roses, must be on the label.

"Pest - if the product is effective against your particular pest, it will be listed on the label. You will also find rates and application equipment here."

Y & Z Chemical/ physical hazards:
"Make sure there are no sparks or fire hazards. Make sure the pesticide does not get too hot or too cold."

Back to the flip chart
After reviewing "The ABC's of a Pesticide Label," return to the flip chart. "Would it surprise you if I said that you can find all the answers to these questions on the pesticide label?" Ask the audience to help you code each item on the list using "The ABC's of a Pesticide Label." For example, if the first question on the list is "Will it kill the bug?", code this question "S" for Approved Uses. If the second question is "Can I use it on azalia?", code that question "S" also. If another question is "Do I have the right personal protective equipment (PPE)?", code that question "J". The question "How much do I apply?", would be coded "N". 

Now review the coded list. Make another list of letters that the audience did not use. They often forget C - formulation. Remind them to check the forgotten parts of the label the next time they buy and use a pesticide.

Wrap up
Wrap up your presentation with, "We've learned a lot about the different parts of the pesticide label today and how we can use the label to help us make decisions and practice safety." 

Take home activity
Review the take home activity, "Making Pesticide Applicator Decisions from the Label.

Pass out the evaluation form. Ask the audience to write 3 pesticide safety practices that they want to start using at home. Each person keeps the bottom copy of their 3-part NCR and gives you the top two copies. Tell them that you will send the form back to them after they have used pesticides for a few months. Tell them that you will ask them to check those practices that they have used at least once and those that they have adopted as routine. See the University of Delaware web page:
for directions on conducting the evaluation.


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