When Canned Heat recorded their version of “Let’s Work Together” in 1970, it’s safe to assume the band didn’t have sports turf managers specifically in mind. But that doesn’t mean the message doesn’t apply to your industry and the people in it.
So, let’s talk about working together in one particular fashion and how it can benefit sports turf managers. I’m referring to your local chapter of the Sports Turf Managers Association and here’s the message: If you’re not a member of one such chapter, join – in fact, join today.
According to its website, the STMA believes that “all agronomy is local and its affiliated chapters serve a key role in delivering regional information. Chapters hold many educational events — like field days — and address relevant, topical issues.” The STMA affiliated its first chapter more than 20 years ago. It now has 34 chapters throughout the U.S., per the website, that represent more than 5,000 sports turf industry professionals.
Why join one of these chapters? These local STMA chapters are excellent ways to network with peers and make new friends in your local/regional areas. The best part of networking is meeting peers who are willing to share their best practices.
Much like the national STMA, local chapters provide many opportunities for education to help you do your job better, as well as learn skills in career advancement so you can take that next step up the proverbial career leader.
Field days are a great way to learn in a physical, tactile manner. You get a change of scenery and an in-person, live chance to see how someone else does certain practices. You also can interact with vendors who may sponsor the events, along with other industry figures that can be valuable resources (for example, professors at local turfgrass programs).
Some local chapters even have conferences and trade shows. I recently attended one of these events in mid-November of last year: The North Carolina/South Carolina STMA Conference & Trade Show. Held in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, the event was a joint venture by the North Carolina and South Carolina chapters of the STMA. The four-day conference offered on-the-field maintenance training, including skin management tips; various STMA educational sessions, including an interesting panel discussion on sod quality; and presentations by Dr. Bert McCarty from Clemson University, Drs. Grady Miller, Charles Peacock and Fred Yelverton from North Carolina State University, Jerad Minnick from Growing Innovations and Craig Borland from Toro Irrigation. A golf outing at Myrtle Beach’s Burning Ridge Golf Club, Seminar on Your Wheels tour and irrigation audit training were optional for attendees, with a separate fee. The STMA’s CSFM exam was offered for those prequalified. There was also a trade show, where attendees could meet with some of the top industry vendors and manufacturers.
Events such as this are fantastic opportunities for the respective chapters’ members. Not everyone is able to attend the national STMA Conference & Exhibition. Local events are a great way to get the essence of that experience in a smaller setting. I recommend all field managers attend both the local and national conferences and trade shows to maximize educational and networking opportunities.
Education is important, but so is networking, and doing so at events such as the NC/SC STMA Conference and Trade Show is certainly a fun and enjoyable opportunity. I’ve had the pleasure of attending several of these local/regional events around the country, and I can tell you firsthand that camaraderie is a huge part of the experience.
If you’ve always thought about joining your local STMA chapter but haven’t done so yet, what are you waiting for? Start here. You owe it to yourself and your career will thank you.
Come on now, people, let’s work together.