The Toro Company has recognized two individuals for their work in the Sports Turf Industry by awarding Matthew Williams and Evan Sears the annual James R. Watson Scholarship.
The James R. Watson Scholarship was established in 1998 in honor of Dr. James R. Watson, a long-time agronomist at The Toro Company. During Dr. Watson's extensive career, he taught, conducted research, contributed to texts on turfgrass science and authored over 400 articles. Dr. Watson also received many awards and served on boards associated with the turfgrass industry. His career was dedicated to enhancing the communication between the business community and the research and academia arena of the turfgrass industry.
Williams, a graduate student from Ohio State University, began pursuing his Master's degree in Turfgrass Science in 2009. Working under the close direction of Dr. Karl Danneberger, his research project focuses on turfgrass stress physiology, paying special attention to the use of turf protection and its effects on the short and long term turfgrass health. Matthew has held various roles in the Sports Turf industry, including Assistant Groundskeeper for the Cincinnati Reds, Director of Stadium Grounds for the Columbus Crew stadium, and currently, he oversees the day-to-day operation of a 30 acre turfgrass research facility as Program Coordinator for Ohio State's turfgrass science program.
Sears, currently an undergraduate student in the turfgrass science program at the University of Kentucky, has spent four seasons - three of which as the assistant groundskeeper - working for the Lexington Legends from 2007 to 2010. There, he was introduced to the fundamentals of maintaining a professional baseball field as well as basic people management skills. In the fall of 2009 he began working for the University of Kentucky as a student worker, where he remains employed during the academic year. There he continues to learn the successful maintenance practices of baseball, football, soccer and softball fields. In the summer of 2011 he worked as an intern with the Louisville Bats at Louisville Slugger Field. While with the Bats grounds crew, Evan learned how a higher-level field is maintained with respect to a higher budget and increasing demands from players and coaches. After graduation Evan intends to stay in the sports turf industry and is open to the possibility of working in sports other than baseball.
To be considered for the James R. Watson Scholarship, applicants are judged on academic preparation, cumulative grade point average, experience in sports turf management and references provided by student advisors, as well as previous or current employers. Applicants are also evaluated on their career objectives, as well as their contributions to their schools, departments and organizations to which they belong.