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Pesticide News

Welcome Instructional Designer, Steven Zhu!

Steven Zhu with mountains

The Pesticide Safety Education Program (PSEP) at the University of Illinois has recently expanded our team to include a new instructional designer. This new addition will be responsible for designing and managing the online training courses, managing the online registration system for in-person training clinics, and assisting clients with inquiries about our online training and testing system. Please help us in welcoming Steven Zhu!

Steven is originally from China but lived in New York City while obtaining his master’s degree in Learning Technology and User Experience at New York University. In addition to learning design, he also has experience in teaching language. He began working on the Champaign-Urbana campus in February and says that he likes the natural environment here the most. “There are many animals and plants, including various types of flowers that bloom in spring. The squirrels are also fascinating, and the landscaped areas really make me feel relaxed.”

When asked what got him interested in working in this position, Steven indicated that he likes nature and finds it interesting to learn about plants and the environment. “I was surprised to discover that pests exist almost everywhere, something I had never realized before. It's really cool to work as part of a pesticide safety education program and help eliminate pests, making harvests more effective and of better quality.”

When asked what got him interested in working in pesticide safety and instructional design in general, Steven had this to say. “I feel that for most learners, sitting in a classroom and listening to instructors read off slides is quite boring. I believe it would be beneficial if courses could be designed in a more engaging way, which would undoubtedly lead to better learning outcomes. Furthermore, learning how to control pests and safely apply pesticides is both important and interesting. I know that many learners are farmers or applicators with busy schedules. Therefore, I am always thinking and designing learning contents that enable learners to absorb information more comfortably and quickly.”

He hopes he can design more engaging projects by creating more interactive content for learners to better explore pesticide safety. “I believe that good design can enhance learning experiences and attract learners’ interest”, says Steven. Also, he wants PSEP clients to know that he welcomes feedback. So please share your thoughts on his course design!

Steven says, “I am excited to design some interesting learning content that helps learners feel more comfortable in achieving their learning goals. I am looking forward to working with the team and providing support to the PSEP team learners.”

In his spare time, Steven enjoys hiking and traveling. He’d like to visit all the National Parks where he collects decks of playing cards as souvenirs of his travels. Steven also enjoys cooking and exploring dishes from a variety of cuisines including Spanish, Peruvian, and Indian. But what he says he excels at is brewing coffee and jokes that he might even become a barista someday. We at PSEP look forward to enjoying a cup while we get to know him better as well.   

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Michelle Wiesbrook provides subject matter expertise and training in pesticide safety with an emphasis on horticultural weed science. She serves as the Illinois Pesticide Review newsletter editor, collecting and organizing material; and co-coordinates social media information for the PSEP program and ensures its timely publication. Her other interests include herbicide injury and invasive species.