March 04, 2013

“A force multiplier”  
Janet A. Hurley, MPA
 Extension Program Specialist II - School IPM,
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service

…The most important reason that Janet is a Healthy School Hero is her commitment to school children. She is able to look at the big picture where children are concerned and includes all aspects of children's safety in her programs from asthma to air-quality to safety. As she says during many of our conversations “We do it for the kids.”  -- F.C. "Fudd" Graham  

Janet with Kim Pope, Pesticide Safety Education Specialist at LSU in Baton Rouge. 


Early in Janet Hurley’s working life she was dissatisfied with being a regulator. She wanted to be an educator. She always felt motivated to be proactive, to prevent problems. Janet says she attributes her focus on prevention to the early influence of Smokey the Bear and Woodsy Owl.

“IPM is often overlooked as a way to increase building health,” says Janet. “Schools typically compartmentalize responsibilities.  IPM teaches people to bring it all back together. IPM isn’t just about not using harsh chemicals. There are multiple benefits to the school.”

In 2001, Janet A. Hurley joined Texas Cooperative Extension to launch the Southwest Technical Resource Center for IPM in Schools and Child Care Facilities. The challenge was enormous. In 2002, regulatory inspections found most schools non compliant.

The first IPM trainings were only 6 hours. Janet couldn’t turn it off.  With her colleagues Don Renchie and Mike Merchant, Janet developed educational materials, manuals, training programs and clinics for School IPM Coordinators and others interested in protecting children.

Janet was the “organizational hub” for the Texas Integrated Pest Management Affiliate for Public Schools. Janet and her colleagues have trained over one-third of the schools in Texas. She has helped schools pass state regulatory inspections and then go on to win awards for School IPM.  She has helped the districts save thousands of dollars by not using pesticides and avoiding costly fines.

Janet never just walks away after a school inspection or training, especially if she is working with a new coordinator. She leaves them with phone numbers of at least three neighbor schools to call, encouraging veterans to help each other.  She travels the state of Texas and other states doing trainings and conferences, yet in spite of her busy schedule, she is always responsive to phone calls and emails.

Janet emphasizes that a key leadership function is professional development. “I am constantly growing and learning from the people I work with and the people I work for, ” she says. “Professional development is helping you to be better at your job.”

She inspires trust and confidence with her openness and honesty. Janet engages people in conversations about competency. That kind of conversation guards against potential process hazards and gets to the kind of information that will help them lead a safety culture. She says, “to verbalize is not to criticize.” She knows that it is the people whose knowledge and competency help them do a good job and a safe job.  

In one school district, after working with a low mid-manger, she realized that she needed to get upper management on board.  

She met with the districts new general manager and took the risk of giving him a list of things to fix. He said, “you’re right." He recognized that the sanitation department was demoralized by the district’s low performance. He appreciated her honesty.  

Janet emphasizes the need to have all kinds of conversations to help people solve problems and make good decisions. Good communication can lead to understanding the source of a problem. She tells about a case when there were cockroaches on a school bus and another time when there were cockroaches in a child’s wheelchair. Good problem solving avoided the unnecessary use of pesticides. She points out a sad failure of communication that led to an incident when cotton defoliating was going on near a school, they didn’t alert the school to turn off the air conditioners.
Janet presenting a US EPA Award to Jeremy Theriot,
 IPM coordinator for the Ascension Parish, LA with  
L. C. 'Fudd' Graham, Ph.D. Alabama Fire Ant Management Program

Read all nominations for Janet Hurley at this LINK
(Packet page numbers in red.)
Excerpts from Nominations

 (LINK 1–4) Charles T. Allen, Ph.D., Professor, Statewide IPM Coordinator, Association Department Head and Program Leader for Extension Entomology writes "Janet has professionally touched the lives of thousands of people and improved the lives of millions…Her biggest success has been to improve the health and wellbeing of the 4.7 million children in Texas public schools – and countless thousand more in other states.  The confidence she instills in people is a “force multiplier” …  Janet inspires trust and confidence and builds extensive and enduring partnerships."

(LINK 5) C.G. Cezeaux, Director of Operations, Spring ISD, Houston, TX cites Janet’s passion for IPM. "Janet was instrumental in helping the IPM Coodinators of Texas to form the Texas Integrated Pest Management for Public Schools. And she assisted several districts in becoming IPM Star Certification winners… Even with her busy schedule, if you have a question she is only an email of phone call away."

(LINK 6) Paul W Duerre, CIE, Killeen Independent School District, Killeen TX, Environmental Specialist/IPM Coordinator, President, Texas Integrated Pest Management Affiliate Public Schools writes "Janet’s approach to IPM is really an approach to maintaining a safe and healthy environment for the students, as well as the staff of our public school districts… She is always a fountain of knowledge on the regulations, proper documentation and reporting; new/better or just useful techniques that we can use in our pest management programs. If you have a problem or concern, Janet is always willing to take your call, emails, or even come directly to your school district.  …Ms. Janet Hurley has made our job easier in maintaining a healthy school environment for our kids, staff and parents to participate in the learning process. She cares!

(LINK 7) Kenneth Braeutigam, Maintenance Supervisor, Russellville School District, Arkansas School Plant Management Association (ASPMA) Past President writes Janet is “ALWAYS available to us for answering questions and giving advice.” Noting that she blends being a leader in school IPM with the promotion of school health. Janet has dedicated her life to helping others provide the healthiest learning environment possible for our children.

(LINK 8) Sherry Glick, Office of Pesticide Programs, US EPA, Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention writes “In addition to her recognized efforts in the State of Texas, Ms. Hurley has been a national leader for healthier schools over the last decade. She has inspired and established national partnerships, led innovative practices, and remained dedicated and committed to our most precious resource, our children… Ms. Hurley assists school systems in implementing practical pest management programs that reduce pesticide risk, decrease absenteeism from asthma related illnesses due to pests, and result in cost savings.  Ms. Hurley also plays a key role in the National School IPM Working Group."

(LINK 9-11) L. C. “Fudd” Graham, Ph.D., Coordinator, Alabama School IPM Program, Auburn University, College of Agriculture and co-chair with Janet of the Southern Region School Integrated Pest Management Working Group praises her leadership and the resources she has created, and writes "Janet was instrumental in establishing a recognition program that values custodians and maintenance staff as partners, the IPM Pride Award. Janet has established and expanded regular training programs for maintenance staff and developed a curriculum for Advanced School IPM coordinator training reaching over 1,700 individuals in 499 Texas school districts. …The most important reason that Janet is a Healthy School Hero is her commitment to school children. She is able to look at the big picture where children are concerned and includes all aspects of children's safety in her programs from asthma to air-quality to safety.  As she says during many of our conversations, "We do it for the kids.”