Happy Birthday, Openlands: Don’t let the bedbugs bite!

June 2, 2013

The battle of the bedbugs

On Friday I received a forward from Rick Moskovitz with A-Plus Pest Control, Inc and Plus Natural Solutions Worldwide about the latest in the ongoing battle against bedbugs in America. The story read, in part:

The survey of U.S. pest management professionals found that 99.6 percent of respondents encountered bed bug infestations in the past year and that they continue to be the most difficult pest to treat. As expected, bed bugs are most commonly found in residences, including apartments/condominiums and single-family homes, with 98 percent and 96 percent of pest professionals reporting that they treated bed bugs in these locations respectively.

Rick makes his return to The Mike Nowak Show today to preach his gospel of non-toxic pest elimination, with particular emphasis on the nationwide bedbug problem. Rick testified at a Chicago City Council hearing in January about a proposed Bed Bug Ordinance. Rick’s proud of his services,which work on eliminating the annoying pests and also the worry about using toxic chemicals around homes, apartment buildings, condos, restaurants, warehouses or other businesses.

Rick’s companies, A-Plus Pest Control and Plus Natural Solutions Worldwide, recently acquired the Illinois distribution rights to the KiltronX Bedbug Barrier System. KiltronX is a patent pending fabric that is used in many products–including mattress covers, tote bags, garment bags, duffle bags, backpacks, fashion bags, and more–to eliminate bedbugs, roaches, fleas and other insects.

Entomologist George Manning of American Pest Solutions and Kaye Z. Kharasch of Green Building Connections join Rick on the show today. George is actually one of Rick’s competitors but, as Rick explains it, he’s also a close friend who is an expert spokesperson for Kiltronix. Kaye’s organization has a goal of elevating green practices throughout organizations, whether it is in regards to product, control of waste or energy consumption. The CGC uses a nationally recognized, third-party verified, point-based system, allowing for transparency. Kaye certified both of Rick’s companies.

By the way, Rick tells me that I am the first media outlet to talk to him about his new relationship with KiltronX. about this. I’ve also been warned that he might bring his guitar to the studio to sing the new jingle for his business. It’s what I call an occupational hazard. At least his singing isn’t toxic…or is it?

Happy 50th Anniversary, Openlands!

Here’s another message I received, this one on Friday evening, as the Illinois General Assembly was wrapping up its regular 2013 session:

Just minutes ago, a great conservation success was had, and we wanted you, our supporters and friends, to be the first to know.  After seven years of negotiation and work by Openlands and our partners, the Illinois General Assembly unanimously passed legislation to reinstate protection for landowners in Illinois who open their land to the public for recreation. This legislation, which restores liability protections for landowners who allow the public access to their land for activities such as fishing, hiking, or birding, is now headed to the Governor’s desk. Conservation organizations, Openlands, The Nature Conservancy of Illinois , and the Illinois Environmental Council  worked closely with Senator Don Harmon and Representative Ann Williams to craft and pass this important bill.

In a time where it is increasingly difficult for the government to acquire more land, this legislation provides access to beautiful places to go hiking, camping, kayaking, boating, and bird watching, increasing opportunities to connect to nature for people without any cost to the state. The law will provide protection for the generous landowners who provide a valuable public service by opening their properties and dramatically increasing open space available to the public.

In 2005, Illinois became the only state in the U.S. that didn’t provide protection for private landowners; now in 2013 we can be proud to provide those protections once more.

That’s just one reason why It’s a pleasure and an honor to welcome back Jerry Adelmann, President and CEO of the remarkable Openlands, which, in 2013, is celebrating its 50th Anniversary Year. Jerry’s introduction to Openlands says something about him as well as something about why this organization is so special–not just to Chicago, but to the nation as a whole.

From his biography on the Openlands site:

Gerald W. Adelmann joined Openlands in 1980 to coordinate a special program that led to the creation of the Illinois and Michigan Canal National Heritage Corridor, the first federal land designation of its kind. Today, there are more than fifty federally designated heritage areas across the United States.

In 1988, Jerry was appointed executive director of Openlands. Under his guidance, Openlands launched the 21st Century Open Space Plan, which called for expanded parklands, greenways, and trails in northeastern Illinois and the surrounding region. His leadership in creating the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie ; in preserving the rare and scenic landscape at the Openlands Lakeshore Preserve for public enjoyment; and many other conservation and preservation accomplishments has earned him numerous honors and conservation awards. In 2012, the Chicago Botanic Garden awarded him the prestigious Hutchinson Medal.

In its 50 years, Openlands has left a legacy of stunning conservation lachievements, among them The Illinois Prairie Path, I & M Canal National Heritage Corridor, the 19,000-acre Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie and much, much more. I’m a member of one of their signature programs–TreeKeepersand I have participated in one of their newest programs, GardenKeepers.

Openlands was responsible for the establishment of the bi-state Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge in McHenry County, Illinois and Walworth County, Wisconsin, and the creation of the Openlands Lakeshore Preserve at Fort Sheridan in Lake County.

Which brings us to Songs of Praise: Celebrating Openlands Jubilee. On June 15 at 6:00 p.m., you can sip cocktails along the lake bluff of the Openlands Lakeshore Preserve in Fort Sheridan. That will be followed by a three-course dinner, and an entertaining program showcasing Openlands’ accomplishments since 1963. I can’t think of a much finer way to spend an evening in a good cause.

For sponsorship information, to purchase a table or tickets, or for more information, please call Kaye Oberhausen, Associate Director of Development, at 312-863-6263 or email koberhausen@openlands.org

Educating the new breed of urban farmers

In 1997, I became an Illinois Extension Master Gardener. That seems now like a long time ago (and I guess it is–it was in another century, after all). But one of the instructors who stuck in my mind was a guy named Dr. Fredric Miller. He taught a couple of courses that I took, including the all-too-brief entomology class. In fact, I stole a line from him that I use to this day.

When it comes to bugs, he told the class (and by that I think he meant insects, worms, slugs, spiders and anything that can fit in your shoe without you knowing about it), “Most people have two questions: What is it? and How do I kill it? And they usually skip the first question.”

That hit me right between the eyes and, like I said, I’ve used it ever since.

Well, I finally got to meet Dr. Miller face to face a few weeks ago, thanks to Art Scheele from American Organic, who was on my show last fall to talk about growing cover crops.

Dr. Miller, who now teaches at Joliet Junior College, told me about the Urban Agriculture Summer Institute, which is

designed to offer high school students and newly graduated seniors a hands-on agroecology or urban agriculture experience in conjunction with interdisciplinary academic coursework that examines the ecological, social, economic, and ethical implications of our food production system.

Students willl learn about the challenges and benefits to establishing a sustainable urban agriculture food production system, “get dirty” implementing food production techniques, and will participate in midday workshops and seminars on environmental problems faced by urban and tradition agriculture, soil resources, water resources, pests and pest management, biodiversity and biological resources.

Cool. Where was this when I was in high school? Oh, right, I wanted to be a rock and roll DJ. Never mind.

The program runs for three weeks, Monday through Thursday, for five hours a day at the Joliet Junior College urban agriculture land lab (UALL). The dates are June 17-20, June 24-27 and July 15-19 from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. The fee is $200 (pretty darned reasonable) and perfect attendance is required (also pretty darned reasonable).

For more information, contact Kimberly Meyer-Ramirez at kramirez@jjc.edu.

Dr. Miller joins me this morning to talk about whatever we can think of in the horticultural/agricultural realm. Oh, he wanted me to mention that the JJC Farmers Market is up and running on Thursdays from 3:00 to 7:00 p.m. until October 24. It’s located in the JJC Greenhouse parking lot at 1215 Houbold Road, Joliet, Illinois 60431. Interested vendors can contact Dorothy Rosier at 815/280-6622 or by email at drosier@jjc.edu.