Every year about this time my telephone starts ringing with questions about where one can get some continuing education credits for their pesticide applicators license, since they just got their renewal notice in the mail from Texas Department of Agriculture.

So, here are a few tips for consideration.

Start early. Continuing education activities occur year-round across the state. In Nueces County alone, throughout 2009, 38 hours of CEUs were offered. You may not find affordable, convenient or sufficient numbers of opportunities if you wait until your license or certificate renewal deadline is near. Monitor the TDA list of approved recertification courses and training contacts. It's available from the Certification and Training Division by calling (800) 835-5832. The list, along with links to Internet-accessible CEUs, is also posted on the TDA Web site at http://www.agr.state.tx.us/internet/ceucourse/search.jsp. Notify training contacts of your interest. They may be able to inform you when they have upcoming activities. Several commercial trainers offer courses exclusively for pesticide applicators. In addition, CEUs are issued at many county programs sponsored by Texas AgriLife Extension Service. Requests will be placed on your local County Extension Agent's mailing list. Retain your Certificates of Completion. Although some commercial trainers may provide duplicate certificates, there is no recourse for lost certificates from the Extension Service. No single source provides cumulative tracking of all the CEUs that you acquire. Shortly before your license or certificate expires, you will receive an application for

renewal from the Texas Department of Agriculture.

Be sure to notify TDA if your address has changed. After you submit the application for

renewal, your license or certificate should a arrive within a few weeks. Keep your Certificates of Completion for one year following renewal.

What CEUs do you need?

For private applicators, 15 CEUs every five years, including a minimum of two in Laws and Regulations, and two in Integrated Pest Management. Up to 10 CEUs may be obtained through TDA approved home study programs.

For Commercial and Noncommercial Applicators: five CEUs annually, including at least one CEU each in two of three special topics. Those are Laws and Regulations, IPM and Drift Minimization. CEUs from TDA-approved home study may be used to re-certify only every other year.

No CEU Carryover: CEUs must be acquired prior to renewal. Extra CEU credit obtained in one renewal cycle cannot be forwarded and used in the next renewal cycle. Federal and state pesticide laws and regulations continue to change due to pressure on regulatory agencies from the public and organizations with concern(s) for environmental and public health protection.

Application of pesticides by either ground or air may cause drift problems that result in property and human exposure. Section 7.24 (t)(1) was revised in May 2008 to require individuals licensed as commercial or noncommercial applicators in the "Aerial" category to receive one CEU specifically addressing the challenges associated with "Minimizing Pesticide Drift" from aircraft (fixed wing or rotary).

They must also receive one CEU in Laws and Regulations, and one CEU in pesticide safety. The remaining two CEUs can be in the general category or other subject matter areas (ex. - weed and brush, IPM).

Video CEU conference - Feb. 19

To help meet the needs of some last minute CEU hunters, a Video CEU Course will be conducted in Robstown on Feb. 19. The class will be held at the Nueces County Extension Office, located at 710 E. Main Ave. in the Johnny S. Calderon County Building, from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

A total of six CEUs will be offered.

Turf conference - Feb. 23

The Nueces County Extension LAB and Texas AgriLife Extension Service will sponsor the 12th Annual South Texas Turf Management Conference on Feb. 23 at the Del Mar Economic Development Center, located at 3209 S. Staples in Corpus Christi.

The purpose of this conference, which will be held in Room 106, is to provide information that will benefit turf management professionals in South Texas. The conference will begin with registration at 8:15 a.m. followed by the program at 8:30 a.m.

Participants will be provided lunch during the conference, which will conclude at 4:00 p.m.

Topics and speakers in the morning session will include turf physiology, irrigation and turfgrass drought resistance. Topics for the afternoon session will include weed control and drift minimization. Speakers will include turfgrass specialists with the Texas AgriLife Extension Service, David Chalmers and Jim McAfee, Danielle Converse with

the Corpus Christi Stormwater Department, and Jeffrey Stapper, Nueces County Agriculture/Natural Resources Agent.

The conference will provide six CEUs through the Texas Department of Agriculture. Registration is $30 per person which includes lunch. All those planning to attend should preregister by contacting the Nueces County Extension Office at (361) 767-5217 no later than Feb. 16.

Individuals with disabilities, who require an auxiliary aid, service or accommodation in order to participate in any of the mentioned activities, are encouraged to contact the County Extension Office eight days before all programs for assistance.