I am the… Grounds Manager

For theGreens Farms Academy (Westport, Connecticut)

What field care product/ piece of equipment could you not live without? Our Kubota M5140 tractor.

Complete this sentence: “If I weren’t a field care pro, I would be …” A professor. I enjoy sharing what I’ve learned with other people.

What path led you to a career in sports field management? I started working at a golf course when I was a young kid, in order to play golf for free. I fell in love with watching the sunrise every morning and working outdoors.

What types of fields and turf areas are you responsible for? I manage the maintenance of a 42-acre campus which includes four multi-use natural grass fields and one synthetic field. We also have about 10 additional acres of general lawn areas that get used for recreation and event gatherings.

What are the biggest challenges in maintaining the facility? Being in Connecticut and a pre-K-12 institution, managing weeds and certain problematic insect pests without synthetic pesticides is a challenge. We’ve had to get creative and think outside of the box to deal with these issues.

One example is using a tarp on the infield skin of the baseball/softball fields during the summertime when the fields aren’t being used, to prevent weeds from growing. Not only does it reduce the time you spend keeping weeds out, it reduces the amount of clay you add year after year.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned on the job? ‘It’s just grass!’ This mantra helps me put things into perspective if I start feeling stressed at work. I’m very fortunate to work in an industry where I can be outside and play on tractors all day! I try to remember this and have fun at work.

How do you predict the sports field industry will evolve in the future? It seems to me that our industry is certainly gaining on the golf course industry in terms of its level of professionalism. Expectations for field conditions are increasing and with that comes the demand for a more knowledgeable, talented field manager. I also believe the salaries that come with these greater expectations will be representative of that.

What is the most important quality required to be a successful field manager? I believe leadership is the most important quality. This is something I’ve learned through my experience, especially when dealing with a larger crew.

What advice would you give aspiring field managers? Get involved early in the industry. Meet and talk to as many people in the industry as you can. I worked in sales for a few years before my current position, and even though it wasn’t what I ultimately wanted to do, I got a chance to learn so much. Also, don’t be discouraged if you don’t get selected for a job you applied for. I believe it all happens for a reason and the process is training for the next one.

Who have been your biggest influences/mentors? Professionally speaking, my college professors from the University of Connecticut have and continue to be incredible mentors for me.