Solving problems in our communities
Engaging university-trained volunteers to empower and sustain diverse communities with relevant, unbiased, research-based horticulture and environmental stewardship education. Read about WSU Master Gardeners in the news.
WSU Extension Master Gardeners safeguard clean water by instructing on the least toxic methods for controlling landscape pests such as weeds and harmful insects.
The significance of clean water extends to our health, communities, and economy. Upholding clean water upstream is crucial for the well-being of communities downstream. Approximately 117 million Americans – one in three people – rely on drinking water sourced from streams that were susceptible to pollution prior to the Clean Water Rule. The way we care for plants and manage soil in our home gardens and landscapes can impact water quality. The runoff or percolation of excess pesticides and fertilizers can ultimately find their way into surface and groundwater.
In Spokane County, over 500,000 individuals depend on the Spokane-Rathdrum Aquifer as their sole source of drinking water. Human activities directly above the aquifer can result in severe negative consequences for the availability of clean drinking water.
WSU Extension Master Gardener volunteers provide education on employing integrated pest management to prevent the introduction of harmful chemicals into our water systems and safeguard our pollinators.
- Responded to 2,781 public inquiries regarding the least toxic methods for controlling pests in Plant and Insect Clinics.
- Conducted 67 adult classes and 14 youth classes on pesticide use, safety, and integrated pest management.
- Organized 4 demonstrations for both adults and youth, showcasing integrated pest management practices for pest control.
- Facilitated 16 workshops for adults and youth, focusing on integrated pest management practices for effective pest control in the landscape.
- Hosted 28 field days for both adults and youth, providing immersive experience with integrated pest management practices for landscape pest control.
- Educated 1,500 adults and 835 youth on the significance of clean water and how gardening choices impact water resources.
- Participants gained knowledge in applying fertilizers at recommended rates and times, identifying pests and diseases, minimizing or avoiding chemical use, and preventing soil erosion.
Doing our part
Results from an integrated pest management class assessment showed that 85% of participants gained a better understanding of pest management alternatives to pesticides.
Feedback from a lawn maintenance class indicated that 43% of attendees expressed an intention to modify their fertilizer plans in accordance with the research-based recommendations presented in the course.
One participant in an integrated pest management class learned the importance of accepting low levels of plant damage rather than resorting to pesticides. They shared, “I learned to ‘chill’; if the plant is healthy, it can probably tolerate some ‘gnawing,’ but be alert for serious infestations.”
Another attendee discovered the existence of beneficial insects alongside pests and emphasized the need to “beware of broad-spectrum (insecticide) applications” that could harm beneficial insects and potentially impact groundwater.