Published on 05/14/01

Training Can Ease Georgians' Termite Worries

When it comes to protecting their homes against termites, consumers want to know if they get the protection they pay for.

One way to help ease consumers' concerns is to teach pest control operators, and the people who regulate them, the latest and most effective, environmentally friendly ways to protect houses.

Photo: Joe Courson

Posing for a class picture are 13 of the more than 300 pest control operators who have trained at the Georgia Structural Pest Control Training Center in Griffin, Ga.
"One, two, three, go get 'em," said Dan Suiter as he took a picture of one of the University of Georgia's quarterly classes of termite killers.

Final Exam

Suiter, a UGA Extension Service entomologist and an expert on controlling termites, directed the class to an odd-looking house foundation nearby for their final assignment.

It sounded easy enough: Treat the walls of a typical house for termites, something Curley Chase has done day in and day out for 32 years. "It's easy until you've got the boss looking over your shoulder," Chase said.

The "boss" is Meredith Harr, one of the Georgia Department of Agriculture's 22 termite inspectors. She and the other inspectors follow up on 1,900 consumer complaints each year.

"This is the kind of stuff we've got to check behind these guys on," Harr said.

Versatile Training Center

The training is especially effective because the Georgia Structural Pest Control Training Center includes a home foundation built from every type of material used to build Georgia homes.

From stucco to block to brick to poured foundation, they're all available at the training center on the Griffin, Ga., campus of the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

"It allows that technician to get out here and envision what is behind that wall, what might be behind that brick facade," Suiter said.

Photo: Joe Courson

In one Griffin, Ga., site, pest control operators can test termite-control skills on foundations built from every type of material used in Georgia.
Lively Discussion

This training's final exam sparked some lively debate between operators and inspectors.

"We're not through yet," said one inspector.

"I feel like we're playing survivor here," said a pest control technician.

"We are," the inspector replied.

"It's kind of a marriage," Chase said, "of (operators and inspectors) who at times can be at odds."

Improving Termite Control

"I think it allows them to better treat the typical Georgian's home," said Suiter, who fielded the questions that emerged from the class's final assignment.

The Department of Agriculture, UGA CAES and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency sponsor the training facility. More than 300 pest control operators and inspectors have trained at the unique center since it opened in July 1998. They, in turn, train their co-workers back home.

"I'll take the time out now to look at a fireplace a lot differently every time I go up to one," said Chase at the end of the session.