Bettie Portwood Summit County Pest Control Scholarship Fund
In 2007, Summit County Pest Control Association Vice President Jim Sanor was brainstorming ways the association could attract local students to the field of entomology.
He was curious about how scholarship funds were created at area colleges, so he contacted former Mount Union College President John Ewing to ask how he could get started. Ewing’s answer? Call Akron Community Foundation.
Sanor took the president’s advice and contacted Akron Community Foundation to set up a scholarship fund. As it turned out, the foundation was a "perfect fit."
"(Akron Community Foundation) was a dream," Sanor said. "They answered my questions … it was local. And that night, we decided, 'These are the people to go with.'"
With that decision, the Bettie Portwood Summit County Pest Control Association Scholarship Fund was officially established by Sanor and association President Greg Lange in November 2007. Named in memory of Bettie Portwood – longtime owner of Akron-based TNT Exterminating and former president of the Ohio Pest Management Association – the fund was designed to support area children pursuing a higher education, specifically in the field of entomology.
"We thought this would be a great avenue to help younger kids with their college education," Sanor said.
As a teen, Sanor didn’t get the chance to go to college himself, so he and Lange started the scholarship fund to make sure local kids get that opportunity.
"I just think the more you learn, the more you earn," Sanor said. "Education is expensive, whether you pay for it at college, or you pay for it in life experience."
By covering some of that cost and increasing the number of college-educated entomologists, Sanor predicts that more pest-related diseases will be eliminated, and environmentally safe solutions will be found.
"There are bugs now that we haven’t seen in 50 years," he said. "You need entomologists to study these insects and study their behaviors. The world is going in a green direction, so (these students) can find out how natural-made products can eliminate some of these problems."
In addition to paving the way for students to get an education, the fund also helps generate interest in Sanor and Lange’s very specialized field. According to Sanor, entomology and pest control have a long history, with important applications in not only Summit County, but around the world.
"A lot of diseases that have eliminated the populations of the world have come from insect-related diseases," he said. In the case of the Plague, a major pandemic was caused by fleas and rats, which are both eliminated by pest control.
But entomologists aren’t simply exterminators, Sanor said. In fact, many entomologists go into forensic science to provide expert analysis on insects found at a crime scene, a concept that was popularized by the TV character Gil Grissom on "CSI."
"When they're doing these investigations, they can a lot of times tell what the temperature was, what the conditions were, because of the type of insects that were around the scene," Sanor said.
In the past, the Summit County Pest Control Association has been known for initiating cooperation between local pest control groups. Now, the association will also be known for enabling local kids to go to college to pursue a field that is as specialized, yet as vast, as entomology.
"The entomology and pest control field is bigger than just eliminating someone's pest problem," Sanor said.