Short Course Partner

Intended Audience

The content of this course is tailored to the needs of farmers, NRCS, SWCD, Cooperative Extension, and state department of agriculture employees, as well as crop consultants, natural resource specialists, and non-governmental conservation organization staff.


Registration is $45 per person. Course registration includes the Xerces Society's Conservation Biological Control Toolkit and a copy of Farming with Native Beneficial Insects.

Canceled registrations can be refunded until July 21st, 2015.


Tuesday July 28, 2015 from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM CDT
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Farmington Field Office, NRCS Minnesota
4100 220th St. W, Suite 103
Farmington, MN 55024

Driving Directions


Sara Morris
The Xerces Society 
503-232-6639 ext. 102

Reasonable Accomodations

The Xerces Society provides reasonable accommodations for special events with adequate notice.  To request accommodation for events, please contact by Tuesday, July 21st, 2015.

The USDA and the Xerces Society are equal-opportunity providers and employers.


This Short Course is made possible with the support of the North Central Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program, and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). Additional support for this training is provided by the Audrey and J.J. Martindale Foundation, Cascadian Farm, Ceres Trust, CS Fund, Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund, General Mills, the Irwin Andrew Porter Foundation, Turner Foundation, Inc., Whole Foods Market and its vendors, Whole Systems Foundation, and Xerces Society members.

Special thanks to the Farmington NRCS office and staff for hosting the classroom portion of the workshop, and to Little Hill Berry Farm, Spring Winds Farm, and Open Hands Farm for hosting the field portion of the workshop.

Photo Credits

Header: Polistes paper wasp (Polistes spp.) consuming Colorado potato beetle larvae (Leptinotarsa decemlineata) at Keepsake Farm, MN, photograph courtesy of Sarah Foltz Jordan, The Xerces Society. Sidebar:  Perched adult syrphid fly (Toxomerus marginatus),  photograph courtesy of Thelma Heidel-Baker, The Xerces Society.

 Conservation Biological Control
Short Course

NRCS Farmington Field Office
Farmington, Minnesota
Tuesday July 28th, 2015
9:00 am - 4:00 pm CT

Learn how to attract beneficial insects to farms and orchards
for natural pest control!

Beneficial insects contribute to natural pest suppression and potentially save $4.5 billion annually in pesticide costs. Yet the contribution of insects that prey upon or parasitize crop pests is largely overlooked. Conservation biological control is a science-based pest management strategy that seeks to integrate beneficial insects back into cropping systems for natural pest control, ultimately reducing and in some cases eliminating the need for insecticides. This strategy is based upon ongoing research that continues to demonstrate a link between the conservation of natural habitat and reduced pest problems on farms, orchards, and gardens.

In response to growing interest in promoting beneficial insects for their pest control services on farms, the Xerces Society has authored the book Farming With Native Beneficial Insects and developed the Conservation Biological Control Short Course to educate farmers, agriculture employees, natural resource specialists, land managers, and conservation organization staff.

Short Course Training Skills & Objectives

This workshop will cover:
  • The importance of beneficial insects - predators and parasitoids that attack insect pests.
  • Overview of conservation biological control and integrated pest management (IPM).
  • How to identify beneficial insects and distinguish them from other insects.
  • How to recognize the habitat needs of beneficial insects and identify habitat deficiencies.
  • The design and implementation of habitat improvements, including site preparation, insectary strip plantings, hedgerows, beetle banks, and more.
  • The current best management practices that minimize land-use impacts on beneficial insects and mitigate exposure to insecticides.
  • How to access USDA conservation programs for financial and technical support.

Participants will receive the Xerces Society's Conservation Biological Control Toolkit which includes Xerces' book, Farming with Native Beneficial Insects, as well as habitat installation guidelines and other relevant publications.

*Continuing Education Credits Available*

  • Certified Crop Adviser (5 CEUs)
  • Society of American Foresters  (5 CFE credits)
  • The Wildlife Society (5.5 contact hours)

Course Agenda


Module 1 – Farming with Beneficial Insects: Conservation Biological Control

  • Overview of conservation biological control and IPM
  • Conservation status of beneficial insects
  • Case studies of conservation biocontrol in action

Module 2 – Common Beneficial Insect Groups

  • Introduction to common beneficial insect groups
  • Overview of beneficial insect biology and identification

Module 3 – Farm Practices for Beneficial Insects

  • Farm practices to support beneficial insects
  • Mitigating pesticide risks to beneficial insects
  • Protecting overwintering and nesting sites


GUEST SPEAKER Professor Mary Rogers, UMN

  • Biological control research in horticultural crops

Module 4 – Assessing Baseline Farm Conditions for Beneficial Insects

  • Introduction to the Beneficial Insect Habitat Assessment Guide to inform CBC planning

Lunch – Bring a sack lunch!

Field Tour of three local farms with Sarah Foltz Jordan, Thelma Heidel-Baker, & Michelle Wohlers

  • Using the Beneficial Insect Habitat Assessment Form and Guide (Sarah Foltz Jordan)
  • Field observation of beneficial insects and plants  (Thelma Heidel-Baker)
  • Field tour of beneficial insect habitat installation and site prep (Sarah Foltz Jordan and farmers from Little Hill Berry Farm, Open Hands Farm, and Spring Winds Farm)
  • USDA programs and resources for pollinator conservation (Michelle Wohlers)

Module 5 – Designing and Restoring Habitat for Beneficial Insects

  • Strategies for incorporating habitat on farms
  • Site preparation and planting techniques for native wildflowers and woody plants
  • Farm case study

GUEST SPEAKER  Jim Eckberg, Ph.D. Graduate Student, UMN

Module 6 – Wrap Up
  • Additional Resources
  • Questions
  • Evaluations
  • Raffle


Sarah Foltz Jordan – Pollinator Conservation Specialist, Midwest Region, The Xerces Society
Sarah Foltz Jordan is the Xerces' Society's Pollinator Conservation Specialist for the Great Lakes Region, where she works with local farmers, agencies, and conservation planners to promote pollinators and other beneficial insects on farms and in natural areas. Based out of central Minnesota, Sarah works with growers to identify pest control and pollination needs, and provide technical support in the planning, installing, and managing of pollinator habitat on farms. Sarah frequently works in partnership with the NRCS to develop Pollinator Conservation Activity Plans for Midwest farms. She also works with agency staff and research partners to conduct outreach events and develop technical materials to guide pollinator conservation efforts.

Thelma Heidel-Baker – Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Specialist, The Xerces Society
Thelma Heidel-Baker is the IPM Specialist for the Xerces Society. She has extensive experience working on biological control and IPM in agricultural cropping systems. Based out of eastern Wisconsin, Thelma provides support to farmers, agencies, and Xerces staff for developing pest management programs with reduced risks to beneficial insects. She also develops technical materials used by farmers, crop consultants, and university extension to recommend best management practices for conserving beneficial insects in pest management. Thelma received her Ph.D. in entomology from the University of Minnesota where she conducted research on improving IPM of the soybean aphid.


Mary Rogers – Assistant Professor, Department of Horticultural Science, University of Minnesota
Mary received her Ph.D. in Plants, Soils and Insects with an emphasis in Integrated Pest Management from the University of Tennessee in 2012.  Her current research program investigates plant-insect interactions and biological and environmental strategies to improve the production of organic vegetables and fruit. Active research projects include ecological-based pest management strategies for insect pests in organic broccoli production systems and identifying organic management techniques for the invasive spotted wing drosophila in organic berry crops.

Jim Eckberg – Ph.D. Graduate Student, Department of Agronomy and Plant Genetics, University of Minnesota
Jim has a background in plant-insect interactions, plant population dynamics, and species invasions. He is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in the Department of Agronomy and Plant Genetics at the University of Minnesota. His research is focused on the application of ecological principles to develop integrative perennial cropping systems to improve productivity and support ecosystem services with an emphasis on the biological control of insect pests.

Michelle Wohlers – District Conservationist,  Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)
Michelle has worked with the NRCS in Minnesota for 28 years, from the Red River Valley to the driftless area in the southeast.  For the past 11 years, she has concentrated her efforts in Dakota, Washington, and Ramsey Counties – three urban-rural interface areas that have given her the opportunity to deal with a wide variety of resource concerns.  Michelle's experience in resource conservation spans a diverse range of farms, including intensive row crop farms (both dryland and irrigated), organic and conventional vegetable farms, and numerous livestock operations.  She will focus her talk on a number of opportunities currently available to farmers to receive technical and financial assistance from the NRCS.

About The Xerces Society

The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation is an international nonprofit organization that protects wildlife through the conservation of invertebrates and their habitat. The Society's Pollinator Conservation Program was launched in 1996, and works with leading native pollinator ecologists to translate the latest research findings into on-the-ground conservation. More information about the Xerces Society is available at