A Legacy Continues

Friday, February 19, 2021

Jack Root may have felt like a new sheriff trying to clean up the wild west when he became the first Executive Director of the Arizona Structural Pest Commission in 1989.

Root was already an experienced urban and agricultural entomologist, well aware that the state’s pest control needed sweeping, fundamental changes. Charged with improving the professional and ethical standards for pest control operators and reducing the use of chemicals harmful to people and the environment, Root found a natural ally in the University of Arizona College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

Root’s work blended perfectly with UArizona’s Integrated Pest Management program (IPM). IPM uses multiple strategies to control pests and diseases using safe, sustainable methods that reduce environmental impacts, protecting human health in urban areas and helping growers save hundreds of millions of dollars.

“Jack Root was instrumental in raising the level of professionalism of the pest control industry in Arizona,” said Dr. Paul Baker, a retired University of Arizona Cooperative Extension specialist in urban entomology. “He helped pest control professionals become educators, teaching the public about pest biology and ecology. He promoted judicious use of insecticides, only when truly needed, and applied correctly to achieve the desired outcome.”

After Root passed away in 2009, Baker partnered with Dave Burns, President and CEO of Burns Pest Elimination, and Root’s wife Helen to establish the Jack Root Graduate Fellowship for Urban Entomology.

Jack Root, an Ohio native, received his bachelor’s degree from The Ohio State University and master’s from Pennsylvania State University. A first generation college graduate, he knew the value of education.

“One of Jack’s approaches to regulating the industry was to educate people,” said Jack Root’s widow, Helen Root. “He was trying to make his industry better and apply best practices. He realized that education costs money, especially now. He’d be happy to know a lot of people are being assisted.”

Rebecca Howes, one of 2020-21 Jack Root Scholarship recipients along with Andrea Walton, is in the Graduate Interdisciplinary Program working toward a master’s degree in entomology and insect science. Her research involves studying biological methods to control blue alfalfa aphids, which are responsible to costly damage to alfalfa, a common forage used in the cattle industry.

“I am so grateful for the financial support to fund my work and my school,” Howes says. “And a big part of the scholarship was just the recognition that what I do is important. It’s nice to feel validated.”

There are many ways to support CALS students in honor or memory of someone important to you. If you are interested in learning more, please contact Karen Hollish at khollish@arizona.edu or (520) 626-2013.

Karen Hollish
Director of Development
(520) 626-2013