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Extension Education

Bonnie Wells
Extension Agent III, Commercial Horticulture
University of Florida


Landscape professionals, farmers, and nursery growers who apply pesticides as part of pest management programs in Florida are often legally required to have a pesticide license issued by the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS). Failure to be licensed can result in fines from $5,000 to $25,000 per individual. Additionally, certified applicators make higher salaries than those without certification in a similar job and are better equipped to protect themselves, others, and the environment.

To secure a license, a certification exam administered by a UF/IFAS Extension office must be passed and re-certified periodically with continuing education units (CEUS) provided through FDACS-approved educational programs. Extension programs in Brevard County are implemented to meet the needs of certified pesticide applicators, similarly as it is across the state of Florida and the U.S.

Despite setbacks from the COVID-19 pandemic limiting in-person gatherings, applicators licensing exams, training and CEU opportunities, Brevard County Extension was able to pivot its typical programming and continue providing pesticide education to these essential workers.

Since March 15, 2020 to March 15, 2020, training and certification exam study opportunities were provided, both in-person and virtually, across diverse categories. Programs reached 393 individuals and provided 56 CEUs. In-person certification testing has been offered on a weekly basis, with 178 exams completed at the Brevard County Extension office since the start of the pandemic. 

Both knowledge gain and increased confidence were documented using self-reflective Likert surveys. Results revealed that 89-98% of participants had a knowledge gain across all categories, and 87-96% agreed to an increase in confidence in their test taking ability after attending a prep class.

Additionally, 108 new individuals received certification after passing exams, thereby increasing their credentials, and potentially avoiding a total of $540,000 to $2.7 million dollars in fines.

In the future, pesticide certification exam testing will continue to be offered on a weekly basis, and test preparatory and CEU opportunities will be provided in a limited capacity, in-person and virtual hybrid experience to ensure that pesticide applicators are compliant, safe, and stewards of their landscapes.


Poster has NOT been presented at any previous NACAA AM/PIC

This poster is being submitted for judging. It will be displayed at the AM/PIC if not selected as a State winner. The abstract will be published in the proceedings.

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Authors: B. C. Wells, J.H. Walter
  1. Wells, B. Extension Agent II, Commercial Horticulture, University of Florida, Florida, 32926
  2. Walter, J. Extension Agent III, Agriculture, University of Florida, Florida, 32926