On Tuesday morning, Dale Baker, VP of J.T. Eaton, presided over his last membership meeting as president of Pi Chi Omega. With Baker’s term at an end, the industry fraternity voted during the meeting to install PMP columnist Mark “Shep” Sheperdigian, BCE, VP of technical services at Rose Pest Solutions, as the incoming president. Sheperdigian and the other officers ran unopposed, so the lineup now includes:
- Mark Sheperdigian, President
- Dale Baker, Immediate Past President
- Dr. Cassie Krejci, MGK, President-Elect (it should be pointed out, that at age 32, Dr. Krejci is the youngest president-elect in the fraternity’s 69-year history)
- Russ Ives, Rose Pest Solutions, Treasurer
- Gene White, BCE, Rentokil Steritech, Secretary
Directors now include:
- Stephanie Hill, HomeTeam Pest Defense (two-year term)
- Tom Mueller, Insects Limited (in the middle of his term)
- Desiree Straubinger, BCE, Rentokil Steritech (one-year term)
- Glen Ramsey, BCE, Orkin (two-year term)
The meeting kicked off with Awards Committee Chair Karen Furgiuele, Gardex Chemicals, announcing several awards, including Membership Chair Dennis Judy, Judy’s Pest Services, given the Legacy Award of Achievement, presented by Ramsey. In an emotionally charged introduction, Ramsey noted that Judy was the reason he came back to Pi Chi Omega — not only as a member, but energized to take on committee work, too. The always-humble Judy was asked to say “Something,” which he took quite literally, then returned to his seat with thunderous applause.
Baker similarly showed surprise and humility when honored with back-to-back Generosity and Achievement awards. They were presented by PMP Hall of Famers Judy Black, BCE, Rollins, and outgoing immediate past president, and outgoing Treasurer Dr. Cisse Spragins, Rockwell Labs.
“Because of you is why I am here,” Baker told the audience. “I am absolutely honored to have spent this time with you as president. And I look forward to spending more time with you. I don’t feel like it’s ending, it’s a machine we built together…. and I’m looking forward to a long, rewarding journey with you all.”
Later in the meeting, both Black and Dr. Spragins were recognized as they rotated off the board.
Baker noted that he hopes the Pi Chi Omega Spotlight Party that took place the night before will become an annual event. Other fraternity-focused activities going on at PestWorld include:
- The Pi Chi Omega Scavenger Hunt lets participants get a drink ticket to the “Raise the Bar” social, and have a shot at winning a $25, $50 or $100 Home Depot give card sponsored by J.T. Eaton. Learn more at the Pi Chi Omega booth, #1051.
- The Pi Chi Omega-sponsored PestWorld speaker, Dr. Rick Cooper of Terminix, will present on “Tough Bed Bug Jobs: Eliminating Bed Bugs in Low-income, Multi-unit Housing Facilities.” The session will take place on Wednesday, Oct. 16 from 3 p.m. to 4:15 p.m., and Dr. Cooper will be introduced by Sheperdigian.
- The “Raise the Bar with Pi Chi Omega” event will take place Thursday, Oct. 17, from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. at the Marriott Marquis’ Tequila Bar & Grille. All are welcome.
At the National Pest Management Association booth on Friday, Oct. 18, between 9:30 a.m. and 10 a.m., Pi Chi Omega members are invited to stuff backpacks as part of the PestWorld Gives Back program. The fraternity donated more than 500 insect repellent wipes to be included in the hygiene kits for the homeless of San Diego, Calif.
Dr. Spragins said in her Treasurer’s report that the fraternity is in excellent financial shape, up 8.1 percent over 2018. The WinTrust investment portfolio seems to be holding steady, and for more than five years running, she said, Pi Chi Omega has been able to award scholarships using contributions only, not dipping into the reserves.
“A huge part of that has been the generosity of Copesan and Deni Naumann, the matching fundraiser they’ve had at their conference in recent years,” Dr. Spragins said, noting that large contributions from members like PMP Hall of Famer David Mueller, BCE, who helped to establish the Alain VanRyckeghem scholarship, also played a huge role.
Judy returned to the podium to call for membership confirmation on a slew of candidates, all of whom were approved unanimously. After another unanimous vote for it, he was able to confer the newly established legacy membership on Naumann.
Naumann, who noted Rose Pest Solutions’ Russ Ives had originally nominated her for membership — and how important it is for others to bring in new members — said it’s been her privilege to serve the fraternity and the industry at large: “During my time in thus industry, 13 years, I’ve found pest control to be a noble profession and a noble industry.”
During her Scholarship committee report, Straubinger noted that the 2020 scholarship application was being distributed at PestWorld. Among the meeting attendees was the 2019 Osmun scholarship winner, Allison Johnson, a doctoral student at the University of Georgia. Read more about the 2019 winners here.
Insects Limited’s Tom Mueller took to the podium to explain the newly formed subcommittee of “Pi Chi Omega gives back,” consisting of him, Baker, Ramsey and Purdue student Aaron Ashbrook. The group was focused on two new initiatives:
- “The Junior Entomologist,” which a project in which Pi Chi Omega would create grab-and-go, 10- to 15-minute Powerpoint presentations suitable for elementary school children to introduce them to entomology and pest control. The long-term goal is to create versions not just on specific insects, but to reach targets like middle schoolers, high schoolers and even retirement communities. But it is in its infancy and looking for volunteers. As Ramsey quipped to an enthusiastic, brainstorming audience, “We’d love to have 15 presentations to choose from, but right now, we have three slides.”
- “The Facebook Forum,” an admin-supervised Facebook group where academia and pest management professionals can troubleshoot difficult accounts, seek research results, or solicit for donations such as wild-caught German cockroaches to use in an upcoming test, for example. The group sees Pi Chi Omega as being a conduit online to facilitate such interactions.
“This a way we can give back to the industry,” Baker said. “It’s a scalable program that we can do for many years.”
Earlier in the meeting, Baker noted that members often ask him what they can do to support Pi Chi Omega. His response, he said, is always to say “Paying your dues is participation. That is No. 1. It’s what pays for our scholarships. Second would be fellowship at events, where we get to meet and get to know you. No. 3, if you have time to spend time on a committee or sponsorships — well, we need gas in the machine if we want to go.”