Environmental Technology Instructor Named 'Agroterrorism' Trainer

Published 05.16.2006

Faculty & Staff

Steven R. ParkerA prime contractor for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has asked a Pennsylvania College of Technology faculty member to help American Indian tribes nationwide fight agroterrorism, the intentional attempt to compromise the country's food supply.

Steven R. Parker, an instructor of environmental technology in Penn College's School of Natural Resources Management, is one of 100 people initially schooled through the AgTerror Preparedness Center at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Designated a "master trainer" during the three-day course, Parker will conduct his first assignment next week at a community college in Crownpoint, N.M., just off the Navajo Reservation.

The center defines agroterrorism as a "deliberate attack on an element of the agricultural/food production system with the intent to create economic loss through disruption in the production, distribution and exportation of agricultural products." In addition to plants and animals, its training manual states, targets may include water supplies, grain elevators or other storage facilities, and grocery stores.

Parker said his selection is "quite an honor," and noted that he was chosen due to his tribal experience. Prior to joining the Penn College faculty in Fall 2004, he was an environmental manager for American Indian tribes, and continues to work through the Indian Country Environmental Hazard Assessment Project to help tribes identify and resolve environmental problems.

He will be joined during his first assignment by a top-level trainer and director of the agroterror program. From then on, he alone will train tribal representatives to go back and instruct tribal police officers, fire departments, etc., how to respond to an agroterror event. The center's goal is to train approximately 300,000 first responders across America on their roles in an agricultural emergency.

Parker also will undergo additional training this summer, taking a July 10-21 course that Homeland Security requires of master trainers.

He certified three Penn College environmental technology management students during the Spring 2006 semester, enabling them to assist in training and becoming general responders to an agroterrorism event: Jason R. Grottini, of Riverside; Ryan I. Smith, of New Berlin; and Adrianne R. Watkins, of Williamsport. Smith and Watkins graduated May 13; Grottini is a senior serving a summer internship.

For more information on the Ag Preparedness Center, visit online .

For more about majors in the School of Natural Resources Management at Penn College, call (570) 320-8038, send e-mail or visit on the Web .