On Sept. 28 in Houston, Texas, 40 women from across the country came together for the third annual Women in Pest Control (WIPC) Conference.
The WIPC conference is the first conference that focuses on women’s specific issues in the industry. The conference has historically been by women for women, including only feminine presenting people as attendees, speakers and vendor representatives.
This year, WIPC and last year’s winner Melisa Arnold were proud to present a check for $2,000 and a year of unlimited consulting to Mary Susan Branch, who is in the process of opening her own business in Louisiana. Branch is excited to get started and looking forward to providing exceptional customer service to her clients.
WIPC also presented Nancy Boerema with a check and a plaque for the 2nd annual Bobbie Terry Humanitarian Award. This award honors women who have gone above and beyond in their business and community. Boerema has worked tirelessly to help rebuild lives after the devastating wild fires that ravished her community. Her selfless dedication to others is an inspiration to us all.
Each year, B&G offers a pink one gallon sprayer for WIPC to award to one attendee who has battled with cancer. The year it was awarded to Kathy Elkins with Diva Pest Management. Elkins shared her story of skin cancer, and the importance of taking care of yourself.
In an effort to provide an inclusive environment for feminine presenting people of all colors, religions and sexual orientations, WIPC opened the speaker rolls to men who have shown a real desire to empower women in our industry and help them achieve success through knowledge this year. Our first male speaker to be invited was Harry Bryan, director of business development of the Pest Control Division for Nisus. Bryan taught the attendees about how gross small flies are, and the gooey secrets of fountain drinks.
WIPC started as a Facebook group with the goal of providing an environment where women can feel free to ask questions and speak about issues that are gender specific without judgement. As the Facebook group grew to more than 1,200 women, the groups mission has developed to provide professional and personal development opportunities for pest management professionals with underrepresented genders.
Overall, the two-day conference provided an uplifting and positive learning environment. Sponsors for the event included Rockwell Labs, Veseris, Senestech, BirdX, Nisus, Bayer, Target Specialty Products and BASF among many others. This unique vision would not be possible without these industry leaders helping to make a difference.
Some highlighted speakers:
- Dr. Cisse Spragins, founder of Rockwell Labs, spoke on botanical and “green” pest control products. Her company is one of the leading manufacturers of “greener” pest control options and her presentation was enlightening and informative.
- Dr. Dini M. Miller, professor with the department of entomology at Virginia Tech, spoke on “the other WDIs,” and presented on cockroach management with baits.
- Janet A. Hurley, ACE, MPA, senior extension program specialist – IPM at Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service provided CEUs for Integrated Pest Management and Pesticide Safety.
- Dr. Nina Jenkins, research professor with the department of entomology at Penn State provided a CEU on bed bug biology and elimination.
- Dr. Janet Kintz-Early, owner of Jak Consulting Services of Tennessee and former regulatory affairs manager for Nisus, provided a CEU for termite control.
- Sarah Latyn, quality assurance and training coordinator for TRNZ4m, provided a presentation on generations and how to recognize the differences to help better manage, train and hire.
- Chelle Hartzer, BCE, of 360 Pest Food and Safety Consulting, presented on stored products pests, damage, identification and management.
- Anthony Plumley, C.A., with Smith Thompson provided the attendees with a presentation on wildlife trapping and exclusion.
- Hal Drody, owner and business advisor with Harper Grayson communications discussed marketing and advertising in the new, digital age.
Other presentations included information on Bird Remediation, Equipment Maintenance, Commercial sales, Commercial Services and Setting Boundaries vs. Quiet Quitting.