Search for Excellence in Consumer or Commercial Horticulture

Megan Muehlbauer
Hunterdon County Agricultural Agent
Rutgers Cooperaitve Extension
Hunterdon County

Muehlbauer, M.*1, , Waller, T.2, , Gohil, H.3, , Hastings, P.4, , Polanin, N.5,
1 Hunterdon County Agricultural Agent, Rutgers Cooperaitve Extension, Flemington, NJ, 08822
2 Cumberland County Agricultural Agent, Rutgers University Cooperative Extension of Cumberland County, Millville, NJ, 08332
3 Gloucester County Agricultural Agent, Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Gloucester County, Clarksboro, NJ, 08020
4 Pest Management Office Program Associate, Rutgers University Pest Management Office, New Brunswick, NJ, 08901
5 Somerset County Agricultural Agent II, Rutgers University Cooperative Extension of Somerset County, Bridgewater, NJ, 08807

Pesticide recertification credits are required for producers and landscape professionals to maintain their ability to legally apply restricted use chemical compounds, therefor the need to generate virtual programs (that did not yet exist) capable of delivering these credits during the COVID-19 pandemic was critical to the prosperity of our stakeholders in New Jersey. This team navigated strict university identity protection requirements in addition to arduously debated Standard Operating Procedure development with the NJ Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) Bureau of Licensing and Registrations, in addition to educating their fellow County Agents. Procedures were developed in communication with the state agency and implemented for the seven credit bearing classes organized by the team.  Subsequently, members of the team participated in an in-service training for all faculty and staff at Rutgers Cooperative Extension, in addition to countless troubleshooting sessions with those program affiliates preparing for the next wave of credit bearing educational sessions. The trained staff and faculty utilized the tools they learned to provide pesticide credits at five virtual grower meetings, two of which were large virtual conventions. This programming worked to not only impact the educational content for our stakeholders, but it also ensured producers and landscape professionals in New Jersey continued to comply with the law despite COVID-19 restrictions. The SOP did not exist prior to this endeavor but will be utilized moving forward for all virtual credit bearing meetings, thus leaving a positive impact on delivery options for online continuing education and future in-person-hybrid options.