Over 1,500 people attended this year's STMA Conference & Exhibition, held in January in Long Beach, Calif. The five-day event featured more than 70 educational sessions, two off-site tours and 150-plus exhibitors. Here's a rundown of some of the many highlights.
There were nine major "tracks" for the educational sessions this year: sustainability, agronomic, baseball, facility management, industry developments, pest control, professional development, synthetic and water. In the Student Challenge, 160 students competed in teams representing two and four-year turf programs. The winning teams were announced during the exhibition that afternoon at the Hunter Industries' booth. The company partners with SAFE to sponsor the Student Challenge program. With so many options in educational sessions, every attendee got great ideas to take home and incorporate into their management techniques and maintenance practices.
The 2012 Founders Award recipients are:
Mike Trigg (left), superintendent of parks, Waukegan Park District, the 2011 recipient, presents The Dick Ericson Founders Award to 2012 recipient Darian Daily, head groundskeeper for Paul Brown Stadium. The Dick Ericson Award is presented to a sports turf manager who positively impacts the sports turf industry and exhibits effective team leadership.
2012 recipient, Tom Nielsen (left), head groundskeeper for the Louisville Bats Baseball Club, receives the George Toma "Golden Rake" Founders Award from 2011 recipient Mel Lanford, University of Texas (retired).The George Toma "Golden Rake" Award acknowledges an individual's strong work ethic and job performance "and then some."
The Dr. William H. Daniel Awardis given to an individual in recognition for their work to advance the profession of sports turf management and for their long-term support of the STMA. The 2012 recipient is Dr. Leah Brilman, director of research and technical services for Seed Research of Oregon.
STMA Founder Harry Gill's commitment to the sports turf industry and his support of the goals and standards on which the STMA is based are legendary. This Harry C. Gill Memorial Award recognizes and individual's longtime service and commitment to the STMA. The 2012 recipients is Mike Andresen, CSFM, facilities and grounds director, Iowa State University.
Two Seminar on Wheels Tours stopped at four sites each. At Hollywood Park Race Track, horses flew around the dirt track on their morning workout while attendees checked out the natural turf track and infield. At The Home Depot Center, Kyle Waters, vice president of operations and events, and Shaun Ilten, turf and grounds manager, and their staff guided the group through multiple event venues that are spread over the 125-acre site. During the tour of the MLB Urban Youth Academy facility and fields, Manager Ike Hampton's reported on the impact the program is making for area youth and the community as a whole. Since it's opening in 2006, 250 players have been channeled into college baseball programs, and 60 players have been drafted into pro-level baseball. At Blair Field, Jim Yogi, field manager, gave an overview of the maintenance program that serves multilevel play with on-field action 311 days in 2011.
At the Rose Bowl, Turf Superintendent Will Schnell led the crowd down to field level where he gave an overview of Rose Bowl history, outlined the field maintenance program and fielded questions. The site is a sports venue five months of the year and a stage for Hollywood film production the other six to seven months. At Dodger Stadium, Eric Hansen, assistant director of stadium operations, turf and grounds for the Los Angeles Dodgers, greeted the crowd. Staff members led small groups through the Dodgers Hall-of-Fame collection and to the stadium seats. At Loyola Marymount University an overview of the field maintenance programs was followed by tours of the soccer, baseball and softball fields and one of the intramural fields. Softball workouts were ongoing, with field layout for baseball drills underway. At the final stop, California State University Long Beach attendees gathered indoors for a formal presentation of the overall field maintenance program, and then hit the fields for further interaction.