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Letter from the President
Gerry Wegner
November 21, 2007

Let me begin by saying that I am grateful for the opportunity to serve as president of Pi Chi Omega for the new term. My goal is to see all of us working together to complete worthwhile projects in progress and make useful contributions on behalf of our industry. More on that later.

As I write this letter on the eve of Thanksgiving, I am grateful 1) to our ever-faithful and talented executive director, Vern Toblan, with whom we’ve been blessed, 2) to our immediate past president, Eric Smith, for his leadership during the past term, 3) for the effort put forth by our officers and directors in their roles with Pi Chi Omega, 4) for those who have agreed to serve with me on the board in the new term, and 5) to Cisse Spragins for agreeing to run and being elected your president-elect, in addition to her other roles with our fraternity.

On the subject of goals, I intend to do whatever is necessary to help Eric Smith, Stuart Mitchell, and Kim Kelly-Tunis complete the compilation and publication of the history of Pi Chi Omega, as well as the preservation of fraternity archives in both hardcopy and electronic formats. Furthermore, I support David Fincannon in the completion of his video interviews of our industry icons as they share their amazing experiences of industry milestones and noteworthy events in the past century.

Besides the noble projects mentioned above, I intend to direct my focus on making progress in three directions -- namely scholarships, community service and education/research. On the subject of scholarships, the goal of any organization that awards them is to create an endowment that generates enough interest to allow for one or more scholarships annually, without diminishing the principle. Despite our traditional fund-raising efforts, including the generosity of Copesan, towards our scholarship program, we have not been able to create a self-supporting scholarship endowment, to date; but there might be a light at the end of the tunnel: At the October board meeting, David Fincannon reminded us of an excellent proposal by Paul Bello (who was instrumental in setting up the Austin Frishman Scholarship back in 1993), outlining a serious fund-raising strategy. We will be revisiting and pursuing that that strategy with Paul’s help.

Community service continues to be one of Pi Chi Omega’s priorities; however, we have not done much as an organization since the Heifer Project a couple of years ago. Last year, Austin Frishman challenged us to pool our resources and select a low income /Section 8, multiple unit housing site at which to perform pest elimination for the benefit of the residents. This proposal was pondered by the board during the October meeting. Frankly, we saw great merit in the idea; but we were overwhelmed with the prospect of recruiting member PMPs and soliciting industry suppliers and manufacturers for materials and then orchestrating said project. During our discussion, light was shed on the fact that many of us who hold positions of leadership in pest management companies already donate time, labor and materials towards community service projects at the local and state level. Donated services organized through local and state pest management associations, or on a company-by-company basis, allow for multiple sites of benefit realization. So, how can Pi Chi Omega play a supportive role in furthering and expanding this sort of community service? In short, those of us who have experience with donated services can compile and publish a set of guidelines for planning, preparation, performance and follow-up measures germane to those interested in giving back to their communities. Topics covered will include: 1) cost-effective options for reduced risk pest management methods and materials, 2) site / unit pre-notification, 3) communicating effectively and respectfully with residents, 4) personal safety dos and don’ts, 5) how to approach manufacturers and suppliers for donation of materials, 6) securing recommendations of local social workers and legal counsel, and 7) model language for contracts and forms detailing scope of service and disclaimers. The real commitment among Pi Chi Omega members in this matter is the time and expertise we are willing to commit towards providing assistance to our colleagues who need a little help getting started, so they can make a difference in their communities.

To take this a step further, Kim Kelley-Tunis shared that a fellow wearing a Terminix uniform, visiting with her at the Pi Chi Omega booth (NPMA PestWorld 2007) in Orlando, suggested that we bring our pest management skills to villages in third world countries, sort of like Doctors Without Borders. Here again, we can research and publish the steps involved in making this happen for those of us who have the time, resources and motivation to volunteer IPM services outside the United States.

Finally, on the subject of education, I intend to lend my full support to Jim Sargent and his Future Research Committee in order to draw the attention of research-oriented university faculty, to our research ideas "wish list". As new information about pest biology, behavior and management is released/published from university studies, we’ll make sure that information is posted for our membership to utilize. Then we can bring this information to our industry in whatever manner we see fit.

I have the feeling that I may have left some important matters untouched in this, my first letter. So, I apologize if I have inadvertently offended anyone through an error of omission. If there is anything that I can do to make the Pi Chi Omega experience better for you, give me a call (614-306-6927) or send me an email ( to share your thoughts and concerns with me. In the meantime, I wish the best for you and those important to you.

Gerry Wegner