Program Evaluation

Program Leader: Miriah Kelly

IPM Collective Impact Assessment: Overview

In March 2020 the Covid-19 pandemic caused the temporary closure of facilities, and prevented IPM team members from providing hands-on IPM support throughout the growing season, as would be done in a typical programming year. Given this disruption, the IPM team adapted and provided the allowable programming they could during this time. To better understand the impact of Covid-19 on current and future IPM programming, the team developed and implemented a brief survey using Qualtrics Online data collection software. Given the limitations of this year, the 2019 contact list was used to distribute the survey to participants via e-mail. In December 2020, 1060 digital surveys were sent to possible participants from around the state, and 114 individuals responded, resulting in a response rate of 11%. Basic descriptive statistics were run for quantitative variables, and thematic coding was completed for qualitative variables.

The vast majority of participants responded "none" when asked about current concerns regarding their ability to use IPM strategies to manage pests amid COVID-19 pandemic. Other concerns cited include: limitations on farm visits, volunteer gatherings, and being able to work "on-site". Additional concerns include lack of labor, time, and access to resources (i.e. delivery delays), especially others in their community/field. Also noted is a concern about the impact of the pandemic on public willingness to have individuals on their property to conduct IPM management practices.

The vast majority of respondents indicated that there are no new topics of interest due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Others wrote that the following topics might be considered: No-chemical use IPM approaches, using drones for IPM, use of biocontrol measures, and use of Growing Degree Days (GDD).

Most participants indicated that there was no change to their IPM practices as a result of Covid-19. Several participants indicated that they are conducting more scouting and monitoring. Others in the turf management field noted that there is less wear on fields making them easier to manage. Expectedly, some reported that there are, in general, a shrinking of efforts due to interaction limitations and fewer staff overall. Others wrote that they were more focused on Covid-19 and less on IPM, and that they had to pre-plan for use of alternative methods (chemicals) if IPM beneficial insect options were not available.

Although many participants indicated that Covid-19 has not greatly affected their IPM practices, these findings show that some have been impacted by these changes, to varying degrees. There are some concerns expressed by participants that should be considered, as well as emergent topics participants presented that might be integrated into future programming. Lastly, the findings show that some have made changes to IPM practices as a result of Covid -19. The changing conditions resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic are important to recognize in the development and implementation of future IPM education, outreach, and engagement efforts.