Western Farm Press is offering 20 online continuing education courses for 2013 accredited in California and Arizona for a total of 24.5 hours.

This includes four hours of California laws and regulations.

The courses are available at pentonag.com. Seventeen courses are sponsored by industry suppliers and offered free of charge; three are fee based.

All the courses are accredited by the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) and are accessible 24/7. Most of the courses are also accredited by the Arizona Department of Agriculture.

More than 13,000 courses were completed last year for credit, 3,000 more than 2011.  For the first time, two courses totaled more than 1,000 completions. Since Western Farm Press/Penton Media began the online CEU program, more than 48,000 courses have been completed.

Most of these completions have been by California and Arizona licensed agricultural professionals; however, more than 20 states also accredit Farm Press courses. In addition, all courses are accredited by the American Society of Agronomy for Certified Crop Adviser (CCA) continuing education units.

“The growing utilization of the pentonag.com CEU platform confirms the growing use of the Internet to obtain Continuing Education Credit,” said Harry Cline, CEU program director.

The California accreditations cover all DPR licensing categories (PCAs, Private Applicators, Qualified Applicators and Aerial Applicators).

“I have taken almost all of the courses offered by Western Farm Press since I first started using pentonag.com three years ago to earn CE hours,” said Dave Loquaci, a diversified almond, grape and pomegranate grower from Madera, Calif., who is also a PCA. “They are convenient and the information is excellent. It saves time and money and allows me to earn my hours in the evening and farm during the day.”

Loquaci also owns Madera Agricultural Services with his brother Leslie, who has also taken courses online. Madera Ag is a full-service management company for vineyard and orchard production as well as custom harvesting and consulting.

Jason Gaitin, an independent PCA from Fresno. Calif., completed the “Alfalfa Pest Management/Selecting the Right Variety” CEU sponsored by S&W Seed. He commented, “This course had a very good format and was very helpful in taking the quiz and with learning the material.

Craig Finch of Ventura, Calif., also an independent PCA, calls the alfalfa online CEU “one of the best courses” he has successfully completed.

“Managing Spray Drift to Minimize Problems” is one of the more popular courses because it is accredited for one hour of laws and regulations by DPR. It is sponsored by Valent U.S.A.

Independent PCA Priscilla Foxx of Santa Cruz, Calif., who works in grapes offered, “Thanks for continually updating this” after taking the course. Farm Press reviews its courses on a regular basis and updates the information as needed.

Paul Broderick, a private applicator county permit holder licensee from San Diego, Calif., called the spray drift course, “tough, fact and concept laden ... comprehensive.”

Phil Mullins, marketing manager, Crop Production Services in the Stockton, Calif., area has taken several courses over the years. He readily acknowledged that the service provided by Farm Press/Penton Media has allowed him to complete his CEU requirements to maintain his PCA license.

Completing courses

“At some point in the future, most CE hours will be earned online. It is very convenient and time-saving,” he said. “The Farm Press courses are very comprehensive.”

“There is a growing number of producers or county permit holders utilizing the Farm Press program to maintain their county use permits now that many county agricultural commissioners have cut back on offering CE courses due to budget constraints,” Cline added. Many county agricultural commissioners direct growers to the pentonag.com website.

To complete a course, go to pentonag.com and register. The score on the quiz must be 70 or above to earn credit. A quiz may be taken over if the score is less than 70.

Farm Press tracks completions and notifies DPR, Arizona Department of Agriculture, ASA-CCA and county agricultural commissions of each person’s successful completion of a course.

When a person registers on the pentonag.com portal, he or she will be given a mailbox where all of the registrant’s completion verifications are housed. They will contain the numbers of completed courses. A portal registrant can print out a completion notice 24/7 for license renewal purposes.

Courses may be reviewed using this generic login: user name; tryingsystem; password: pentonag.

However, to complete a course for credit the licensee must be registered on the portal.

The portal can also be accessed at westernfarmpress.com by clicking on the continuing education tab. Registering for the Western Farm Press website will not get you to the CEU platform.

For more information, contact the CEU Administrator Cheryl Ogle at ceu@farmpress.com or 559-326-7405. She can also help those who have registered in the past and have forgotten their user name or password.

Pentonag.com also has a Facebook page.