Date of Award

5-2014

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

College/School

College of Science and Mathematics

Department/Program

Earth and Environmental Studies

Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Robert Taylor

Committee Member

Greg Pope

Committee Member

Huan Feng

Committee Member

Eric Stern

Subject(s)

Pests--Control, Communication--Research, Communication--Environmental aspects, Communication--Social aspects, Risk communication, Social advocacy, Social marketing

Abstract

Pesticides have become a preferred approach to controlling pest problems in many, schools and childcare centers, despite the exposure hazards to children and the environment. The only other place where children spend more time is in their homes. Children are continually and unknowingly exposed to pests and pesticides while in and around school buildings. Pesticides are used on athletic fields, play areas, in cafeterias, classrooms, and more. Reducing the use of pesticides from the school environment is critical to lowering children’s total exposure.

This research tests ways of communicating about Integrated Pest Management to a number of school-related target audiences. The study will test the three communication venues for IPM instruction and will evaluate them via a series of questions administered at the end of each presentation. This study compares traditional communication venues such as workshop and in-person visitation opportunities with electronic venues such as webinars. The research goal is to answer whether or not IPM educational webinars are an effective alternative /supplement to in-person classroom workshops and interpersonal IPM visit trainings, and under what circumstances. The venues are evaluated educationally, financially and environmentally. The study also addresses the importance of gathering pest and pesticide use data to identify target areas and groups for further intervention.

This study uses five types of environmental communication to deliver the message of Integrated Pest Management (IPM): rhetoric, advocacy, risk communication, education, and social marketing are all utilized to help to deliver the IPM message.

Through this study of presentation venues, the following are also discussed: 1.) The efficacy of the message, 2.) The demographics of attendees, 3.) The financial cost of venue, 4.) The volume (per event), and 5.) The environmental costs – carbon savings. This research analyzes the means of spreading the message of a safer, greener approach to pest management in areas frequented by children.

The overarching goal of the study is to provide some insight about effective venues to educate key decision makers about the aspects of IPM so that they in turn can make pest management policy and behavior changes with respect to schools and childcare centers, to create safer learning environments for children.

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