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Pest Management Apprentice tng 366 TRS
Airmen demonstrate proper person protective equipment wear techniques during field training at the 366th Training Squadron's Pest Management Apprentice Course Dec 16, 2011 at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas. Students learn pest management missions for both home station and the contingency environment during the 33 academic days and six major blocks of instruction. (U.S. Air Force photo/Dan Hawkins)
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Who are you going to call? - Entomology!

Posted 1/4/2012   Updated 1/3/2012 Email story   Print story

    


by Dan Hawkins
82nd Training Wing Public Affairs


1/4/2012 - SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Whether it's tracking down economic pests such as termites or cockroaches in base infrastructure or analyzing disease vectors for eradication solutions in a contingency environment, Air Force pest management technicians are the ones on call to solve the problem. Training those technicians is the task of Sheppard's 366th Training Squadron Pest Management 
Apprentice course.


The course runs 33 academic days and consists of six major blocks of instruction. After learning state laws, the students tackle the myriad of Environmental Protection Agency's guidelines. This sets up the chemical mixing block, which incorporates implementation of Air Force-level regulations.


Blocks three through five consist of classroom lessons and practical application of plant, disease and economic issues that can impact the living environment at both home station and wartime settings.


The plant block covers vegetation management and turf pests, while mosquitoes and ticks are covered in depth during the disease vectoring class.


In the economic block, students literally go "hands-on", handling snakes, rats and insects in the school's "Zoo Room." They also discuss how to deal with large animals like coyotes.


The final phase of the class is wartime mission responsibilities, in which the students learn other civil engineering tasks like operating backhoes and driving dump trucks, in addition to surveying and eliminating disease vectors downrange.


Courses are programmed for eight students on average and overall Pest Management is scheduled to graduate 125 students in fiscal year 2012.


Master Sgt. Jim Cummings, 366th TRS Pest Management course instructor supervisor and member of the Department of Defense Pest Management Board, looks at the contingency response mission as one of the most important jobs most people don't know about.


"There have been a lot of battles fought throughout history that have been decided not by strategy on the battlefield, but by diseases in the area," he said, specifically citing the American Civil War period. "If we can get Airmen out there, get them to control the pests that cause the disease, the people who perform the mission can actually do their job."


Airmen 1st Class Kevin Carey, 366th TRS student and member of the 171st Air Refueling Wing in Pittsburgh, Pa., was surprised at the in-depth knowledge level required by the course.


"I just thought it (the job) was walking around spraying (chemicals) in corners or setting out mouse baits," he said. "You're doing formulas, you're learning about different chemicals and how they react to the environment. You have to be precise with what you're doing."


For Airman Dustin Pavlenko, 366th TRS student, landing in the entomology career field was the proverbial square peg in a square hole fit.


"Biology was always something I paid attention to in high school, anything with ecology," he said.


Additionally, Pavlenko was impressed with the overall quality of the training.


"The training is the best I've ever had," he said. "The classes are small; we get a lot more one-on-one time with our instructors....you don't get left behind."


The 366th TRS trains over 8,000 personnel annually in 86 civil engineer and vehicle operator resident courses. Students come from the Air Force and international military, along with civilians from the Defense Department.



tabComments
7/15/2014 11:16:35 PM ET
I went to this school in 1971. Started my own business in 1978. I have killed millions of bugs and it is all the Air Forces doing. Air Force had and has great training --- we did not do anything ---so i got out of Air Force to kill something ---- I was crazy.
Rex Lindsey, Laurel Mississippi
 
1/9/2012 11:38:37 AM ET
And the answer should be....BUGSTOMPERS
Ed Read, Burkburnett
 
1/4/2012 12:11:06 PM ET
I believe the correct term is 'Who ya gonna call'
Deryck Henson, Sheppard AFB TX
 
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