- Author: Chris McDonald
Wildland herbicide applicators in California have to be licensed or have be supervised in the field by a licensed applicator. The California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) requires all license holders to complete continuing education hours every two years and the amount depends on the license type. Most wildland herbicide applicators have a QAL or QAC license and for those license types DPR requires 20 total hours of CE every two years with at least 4 hours of laws and regulations hours (however please review the DPR website for complete information because there are some exceptions (https://www.cdpr.ca.gov/docs/license/liccert.htm and see here for general information https://www.cdpr.ca.gov/docs/license/gen_info.pdf)
Before the COVID-19 pandemic we were able to get our CE hours at in-person meetings that were geared towards wildland applicators, and now that COVID-19 is rapidly spreading in California in-person options for CE hours are not likely. Many organizations have adapted to online only CE courses which will still provide you with hours and will also provide information that you can use as a wildland herbicide applicator. The amount of CE info for wildland herbicide applicators is however limited.
For the lowest cost options, there are several free online courses to obtain DPR approved CE hours at the UC Integrated Pest Management (UC IPM) website.
On the same UC IPM page there some additional courses that require a fee. There are over 10 hours of CE courses available on the UC IPM website. Some of these courses will cover basics that are applicable to wildland managers, most material on this page was not developed for wildlands.
For a fee, some professional organizations have shifted to online seminar-style presentations. For example, the Pesticide Applicators Professional Association, PAPA (https://www.papaseminars.com) and the California Association of Pest Control Advisors, CAPCA (https://capca.com) offer online seminars that satisfy requirement for CE hours with DPR. Most of these organizations have high quality information and they are also not focused on content for wildland herbicide applicators.
For wildland specific trainings, one good place to get wildland specific CE hours will be the California Invasive Plant Council's (https://www.cal-ipc.org) annual symposium. The Cal-IPC symposium will be online-only this year (2020) and they will provide CE hours for a fee. Registration for the symposium is currently open and the final number of CE hours has not been posted yet. There will also be a Laws and Regulations session to get some of those specific hours. The symposium is in October, and it is a good idea to not leave all your CE hours for the end of the year, as it has been a difficult year to get CE hours.
For a fee, some companies provide at-home classes with tests that you turn in on your own, or online seminars that you watch at home and take a quiz afterwards. The topics of these courses vary and tend to focus on crops or landscape issues, but some topics do cross over for wildland applicators. These courses are listed on DPR's website.
The official place to check for all approved and pending CE hours is the CA DPR website. In order to get CE hours DPR must first approve the course, so check this website first to make sure your hours will be counted, before you spend the time taking an online or at home course from any source. Be sure to click the “Continuous, online and correspondence courses” link too, which is where the at-home classes are posted.
Most of the opportunities that I have listed and what is listed on the DPR website will not be highly relevant to wildland weed management, but we are in a pandemic so we will take what is offered and try our best.
While we are trying to avoid in-person contact and the old model of CE is not going to work right now, this is going to be a difficult year for wildland herbicide applicators to get their CE hours. In other years wildland applicators could get a majority of their CE hours in classes focusing on wildland management, this year will be more difficult.