Lana Koepke Johnson | Agronomy and Horticulture
Julie Jacobs and Vicki Schroeder were selected as the North Central Region recipients of the American Association of Pesticide Safety Educators 2020 Professional Recognition Award for their work on the Chemigation Education Program. It is given to members who have enhanced public health and the environment through their efforts in pesticide safety education or application certification.
Jacobs, office associate, and Schroeder, program associate, work in the Department of Agronomy and Horticulture Pesticide Safety Education Program.
“This award is normally awarded to faculty. Julie and Vicki receiving this recognition is the first of its type awarded to staff,” said Clyde Ogg, Extension educator and PSEP program coordinator.
AAPSE president Kim Brown added that “this award is truly an honor and they exemplify superior service in pesticide safety education.”
Chemigation is the practice of applying agrichemicals through an irrigation distribution system. The Chemigation certification program is responsible for training Nebraska producers about the Nebraska Chemigation Act and the Rules and Regulations as developed by the Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy. Applicants for the program are required to attend a training program and pass an exam.
Starting in 2019, NDEE contracted with PSEP to coordinate the statewide program and deliver the training for five years. Since the beginning, Schroeder and Jacobs have accepted the new responsibilities and used their skills to have the program up and running and to provide substantial support to chemigators and those Extension educators who teach the program.
The Chemigation program requires a high level of attention to detail. Jacobs works with a team to coordinate the revision, distribution and program improvement recommendations of all Chemigation program educational materials. She also coordinates the scheduling of multiple locations and dates for training sessions, the licensing testing and application processing and the calculation and distribution of grant money designated for Extension Educators who provide the training sessions. She interacts with Extension educators, county Extension staff, PSEP team members, the NDEE Program Manager and Natural Resource District representatives.
Schroeder, as Julie’s supervisor, has similar responsibilities with regard to Chemigation. In addition, she is involved with more in-depth advising and guiding educators, PSEP staff and NDEE.
“Extension Educators have commented that they were surprised at and appreciated the rapid turnaround of Chemigation exams after submission to PSEP. It is unusual for the first year of transition to any new program to go smoothly. Thanks to Julie’s work, the Nebraska Chemigation program has done just that,” Ogg said.
NDEE representatives stated that Jacobs and Schroeder also provide exemplary customer support, patience and empathy for the online Chemigation program especially during the cancelling of the in-person training sessions caused by COVID-19.
“The online training can be intimidating for someone not used to using a computer. I try to be the friendly voice on the other end of the phone guiding them through this process,” said Jacobs.
“Without Julie and Vicki’s work, chemigators in Nebraska would not have the training and certification program required to protect the waters of Nebraska and the health of the public. Their teamwork is what has contributed to the success of the program,” said Ogg.
Schroeder has been at Nebraska for 20 years, 15 with PSEP. Jacobs has been with PSEP for four years.
PSEP at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, in concert with Extension specialists, educators and assistants, provides educational and training programs that address health, the environment, economic well-being and pesticide safety.