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2023 SFMA Conference Education

Welcome to the Conference Education page!  Here you will find presentations and handouts for education sessions occurring at SFMA’s 2023 Conference and Exhibition.

Tracks (key): Turfgrass Management (TM); Water (W); Research and Technology (RT); Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI); Professional Development (PD); Baseball (B); Synthetic (S)

 

Mon., Jan. 16

1:15-5 pm – Pre-Conference Education

How Can We Help?

Enjoy a relaxed, reception-style atmosphere where you can interact with academics for a refresher in the basics of turfgrass management.

  • Let Us Help You – Leah Brilman, Ph.D. – DLF Pickseed
  • Turfgrass Basics – Gregg Munshaw, Ph.D. – Pinnacle Agricultural Research Center
  • Fertilizer 101 – Cale Bigelow, Ph.D. – Purdue Turf Science
  • Weed ID – Erick Begitschke, M.S. – University of Georgia
  • Insect ID – Geoffrey Rinehart – University of Maryland
  • Disease ID – David McCall, Ph.D. – Virginia Tech
  • Turfgrass Math – Adam Thoms, Ph.D. – Iowa State University
  • Basic Field Safety – John Sorochan, Ph.D. – University of Tennessee

 

Tues., Jan. 17

8-9:30 am – General Session 

Transitioning from 2022 FIFA World Cup to 2026

This year’s General Session will focus on the hosting and delivery of the 2022 FIFA World Cup and transitioning to the 2026 World Cup. In 2022, Qatar is the single host city. In 2026, various cities throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico will serve as hosting sites. The presentation will discuss the challenges of working in parallel on different events in different stages of the event lifecycle as well as preparing and planning for consistency and uniformity of fields across different climate zones and stadium types. The integration of science and the latest technology for the development of a quality surface that meets FIFA standards will also be discussed.

We have assembled a panel of diverse experts that represent a combination of international expertise and local knowledge:

  • Jose Aldrete is the Sub Director of Operations Akron Stadium and Sports Companies Chivas for Akron Stadium / Chivas
  • Alan Ferguson is the Senior Pitch Management Manager for FIFA
  • Kaj Heyral is the Group Leader Infrastructure Management for FIFA
  • John Rogers, III, Ph.D. is a Professor at Michigan State University
  • John Sorochan, Ph.D. is a Distinguished Professor at University of Tennessee

 

9:45-10:45 am – Conference Education

(TM) Turfgrass 101: Back to Basics

Gregg Munshaw, Ph.D. – Pinnacle Agricultural Research Center

This presentation will break down how plants function, why various maintenance practices are necessary, and how season can affect everything. Understanding how plants function is critical to knowing how to manage them. The impact that specific practices such as fertilizing, watering, and mowing have on turfgrass will be discussed.

Attendees will:

  • Gain an understanding of plant growth and development.
  • Appreciate how their management decisions impact plant growth and how this affects disease, insect, and weed pressure.
  • Learn about a comprehensive plan for best management practices throughout the seasons to promote plant health.
(RT) Innovations Role in Moving Toward Autonomous Maintenance Activities

Troy Carson – The Toro Company

Autonomy is an inevitable addition to most maintenance programs. We will explore how understanding and defining problems informs good innovation. We will look at the challenges that exist with transitioning to electric equipment and data driven maintenance. Finally, we will examine how autonomy can be a solution to some maintenance challenges.

After attending this session, participants will have gained a better understanding of WHY seeking to properly understand customer problems is key to good innovation; WHAT challenges exist with the acceptance of new product categories such as electrification and data driven maintenance; and HOW autonomous equipment and data driven management may/will fit into their maintenance activities.

(TM) Restoring Performance: Getting at the ROOT of the Problem

Gerald Henry, Ph.D. – University of Georgia

The application of biological substances, microorganisms, and plant growth enhancers has increased throughout the turfgrass industry over the past decade. Many of these products are applied to increase nutrient absorption, boost tolerance to environmental stress, and improve overall growth and aesthetic appearance. However, not all of these products are created equal and manufacturer claims often go unverified. This presentation will examine the impact of these products alone and in combination with cultural practices for the increase of turfgrass rooting and field performance.

After attending this session, attendees will:

  • Know the differences between the terms biostimulant, biological, biofertilizer, etc.
  • Understand the current use and expectations of these products with specific focus placed on their strengths and weaknesses.
  • Comprehend the synergism and antagonism of these products with more traditional cultural and chemical turfgrass management practices.
(RT) Potentially Reduce Nitrogen Use on Athletic Fields

AJ Lindsey, Ph.D. – University of Florida

The presentation covers environmental concerns with traditional fertilizers and some of the recent research trials conducted with humic and alternative fertilizers. It will also explore how humic and alternative fertilizers can be incorporated into a fertilizer program to reduce overall nitrogen use and potential nutrient losses on athletic fields.

Attendees will learn about the following:

  • Humic containing fertilizers with reduced nitrogen rates maintain turfgrass quality and cover compared to higher nitrogen rates.
  • Humic and alternative fertilizers have the potential to improve soil quality.
  • Alternative (natural, organic) fertilizers are an effective and sustainable fertilizer source that provide adequate turfgrass quality.
(S) Player Welfare and Synthetic Turf

Marc Douglas – World Rugby, Kieran O’Donnell – Sports Labs LLC

World Rugby’s approach to quality synthetic turf focuses heavily on player welfare and global best practice. The approach of the American market could change to provide better quality and more player-oriented surfaces. This presentation will help attendees understand some of the science behind synthetic turf and how to potentially help reduce injuries and protect the athlete

The session will cover:

  • How player welfare is central to a sport’s successful approach to synthetic turf.
  • The aspects of this approach that the American market is missing.
  • What small choices can be made to greatly improve the quality, performance of and attitudes toward synthetic turf.
(PD) Sports Field Manager: That’s a Thing?

Drew Miller, Ed.D. – Brentsville Turfgrass Management Program, Leah Withrow – Reno Aces

Sports Field Managers across the country spend endless time preparing fields at all levels for athletes, from Little League to the Professionals. Many of these people are unaware of who we are. During this presentation, we will be discussing new and innovative ways to show the world what a Sports Field Manager is!

Session objectives:

  • Attendees will learn new ways of using social media to promote their brand and their organization to bring awareness to Sports Field Managers and their incredible work.
  • There will be a better understanding of how to network with local groups like travel teams, local community groups, high schools, etc.
  • Understand the benefit and impact of having a strong presence in the community/ facility and social media to better all areas of your work from recruiting labor to budgetary improvements.

 

11 am-12 pm – Conference Education

(TM) Seed to Play in 4 Weeks

Pamela Sherratt – The Ohio State University

This session will focus on establishing playing surfaces in a time crunch. Topics will include species selection, pest control, and water and nutrient management.

Attendees will:

  • Learn about agronomy practices that can be undertaken to facilitate faster grass establishment.
  • Discuss ways in which to accomplish this using natural organic and conventional methods.
  • Interact with colleagues & share ideas on this topic during the Q&A portion of the session.
(TM) Natural Products for Weed Control in Sports Fields

Nick Christians, Ph.D. – Iowa State University

The presentation will cover the history and current research concerning the use of natural products for weed control in turfgrass.

Presentation Objectives:

  • Do natural products work?
  • What does past research say?
  • What research is currently being conducted?
(TM) Managing Common Insect Pests in Cool-Season Fields

Geoffrey Rinehart – University of Maryland

Preview this education session

This presentation will review important steps and principles for integrated pest management as it relates to insect control and discuss common insect pests of cool-season sports fields including their identification, life cycle, damage symptoms, and control approaches emphasizing cultural and less-toxic approaches.

The learning outcomes for attendees of this presentation:

  • To become more familiar with identifying common cool-season sports field insect pests.
  • To learn the life cycles of common cool-season insect pests and the field damage symptoms associated with these insect pests.
  • To learn management approaches to controlling these pests using IPM principles.
(RT) Cool-Season Bermudagrass

Bryan Hopkins, Ph.D. – Brigham Young University

This presentation will discuss saving water with Hybrid Bermudagrass replacing Kentucky bluegrass in cool-season climates.

Attendees will learn:

  • Benefits of Hybrid Bermudagrass in a cool-season area.
  • Risks and cautions of Hybrid Bermudagrass in a cool-season area.
  • Best management practices for Hybrid Bermudagrass in a cool-season area.
(S) Synthetic Turf and the Future of Sports

Scott Campbell – Dallas Cowboys

As more sports fields become multi-use facilities, synthetic turf is increasing in popularity.  As managers and caretakers of these fields, how do we examine and adapt to the number and variation of events taking place on these surfaces? This presentation looks at the direction of sports field construction, increased event traffic and associated revenue, and the things to look out for to maintain the highest quality playing surface for the teams involved.

Three key points to be learned:

  • More sports fields will be multi-use versus dedicated sports fields as potential revenue is the driving factor for decision makers.
  • Increased traffic volume requires additional resources to maintain field safety and quality.
  • Maintenance practices that will protect the quality of playing surfaces and increase longevity.
(PD) Finding Happiness in a Stressful World

Lisa Goatley, M.S., L.P.C. – Counseling Solutions, LLC

Personal well-being is an important factor in the total person. A happy person is a productive person—individually, with family, and at work. This presentation addresses the science behind happiness, factors contributing to happiness, and strategies to cultivate this state of mind. A happy and healthy individual is better able to contribute in all aspects of life (at work, with family, and in the community).

The attendee will:

  • Be able to identify three main sources of happiness (genetics, life circumstances, and personal choices).
  • Be able to name ten strategies to cultivate happiness.
  • Learn quick strategies to improve their mood.

 

12-2 pm – Women’s Forum & Lunch

Now in its 16th year, women in the industry will participate in a facilitated discussion and enjoy lunch.

 

2-3:15 pm – Conference Education

(TM) Evaluating Wear Tolerance and Recovery of Select Bermudagrass Cultivars

Jason Kruse, Ph.D. – University of Florida

With many new bermudagrass cultivars available, questions remain regarding differences in performance for use on athletic fields. This seminar will cover results of research conducted at the University of Florida that compared seven bermudagrass cultivars to evaluate wear and divot recovery, shear strength, as well as fall color and spring green-up.

Session objectives:

  • Attendees will learn information regarding performance of select bermudagrass cultivars that may be valuable when considering athletic field renovation or construction projects.
  • Using information provided by this presentation has the potential to reduce inputs and improve playing surfaces.
  • Attendees will be better informed regarding cultivar management requirements.
(TM) Tall Fescue for Sports Fields and Grounds

Brad Park – Rutgers University

This presentation will provide insight on sports field and grounds scenarios where tall fescue may be an establishment option, maximizing tall fescue competitiveness, and examining National Turfgrass Evaluation program (NTEP)-derived research information related to tall fescue variety selection.

Presentation objectives:

  • The attendee will be able to identify sports field and grounds scenarios where tall fescue may be an establishment option.
  • Management practices intended to maximize tall fescue competitiveness will be discussed.
  • The attendee will be presented with the latest National Turfgrass Evaluation program (NTEP)-derived research information related to tall fescue variety selection.
(TM) What’s New in Cultural Practices for Cool-Season Turfgrass Disease Management

Cale Bigelow, Ph.D. – Purdue Turf Science, Jada Powlen – Purdue University

This presentation will cover the ways that turfgrass managers can reduce synthetic fungicide products for disease suppression. An emphasis will be placed on factors like selecting a disease resistant cultivar, summer nitrogen inputs and dew mitigation methods.

Attendees will learn:

  • Proper species and cultivar selection for cool-season turfgrass areas.
  • How to maintain cool-season turfgrass with fewer synthetic pesticides.
  • How to use summer nitrogen to promote cool-season turfgrass vigor and reduce disease issues.
(RT) Turfgrass Paint a Revisited Idea for Turfgrass Recovery

Philip Braselton – St Andrews School, Alfie Gardiner – Target-Specialty Products, Matthew Kerns – The Episcopal Academy

Sports field managers are always looking for new ideas to improve turfgrass recovery. Field paint or dye is not a new concept in aiding in plant health. With advances in these two products over the years, have we as managers overlooked the potential they have in turfgrass recovery, especially during our slowest growing months. In an exciting new study we will present our findings from two organizations by using turfgrass paint on cool season and warm season grass.

Attendees will learn:

  • The benefits of using field paint during the slowest growing times for warm and cool season grass. (prolonging growing days, turfgrass density, quicker green up and recovery in the spring, etc.)
  • A potential alternative to field blankets for organizations that can’t afford or have the time to manage. (alternatively adding field paint to turfgrass blanket program)
  • Lowering overall nitrogen inputs and the possibility of eliminating an early season nitrogen application altogether.
(S) Does Maintenance Impact Synthetic Fields?

Kyley Dickson, Ph.D. – The University of Tennessee

The presentation will cover the minimum maintenance needs of a synthetic turf field and highlight the key factors that influence the need for maintenance. Practical tips for improving field playability and performance for any budget synthetic field will also be covered.

Presentation objectives:

  • Teach the basics of synthetic field maintenance.
  • Talk about what research has shown to improve synthetic field longevity and performance.
  • Instruct useful methods and tools for precision maintenance to reduce cost and improve field playability.
(DEI) Taking it to the Next Level – Advice from Industry Veterans on Growth and Development

Ash Black – Hunter Industries, Kaylin Dillon – Kaylin Dillon Financial, Amy Fouty, CSFM – The Motz Group, Lynda Wightman – Retired, Leah Withrow – Reno Aces, Victoria Wallace – University of Connecticut

This panel will focus on effective strategies for a successful career. Individuals on the panel will share their experiences and provide advice about entering and pursuing a career in the industry, various life and career stages, and retirement preparation.

 

3:30-5pm – Conference Education

(TM) Developing a Topdressing Program for Athletic Fields

Nick Christians, Ph.D. – Iowa State University, Adam Thoms, Ph.D. – Iowa State University

Topdressing is one of the most common practices, but one of the most misunderstood practices. This presentation presents what happens when the topdressing rate is too fast or too slow. We will also present what to do if your field has layers. Finally, we will discuss what to topdress with.

Presentation objectives:

  • Attendees will learn to justify the cost of topdressing.
  • Learn how to remedy a layering issue.
  • Explain to others proper amounts of topdressing.
(TM) Weed Control Strategies for Warm-Season Athletic Fields

Erick Begitschke, M.S. – University of Georgia, Gerald Henry, Ph.D. – University of Georgia

Developing an effective weed control program is a skill that is becoming increasingly important for sports field managers. Similar to what is implemented with disease management, an effective weed control program allows turfgrass managers to maintain weed-free turfgrass (or as closely as possible) of optimal quality from January to December. Successful programs not only make use of different herbicide technologies varying in mode of action, but also implement effective cultural management practices such as fertilization, aerification, irrigation, and mowing. This session will teach attendees how to build effective weed control programs for the southern United States.

Attendees will:

  • Know how to build a weed control program for their facility that integrates timely herbicide applications with appropriate cultural practices to minimize weed infestation.
  • Understand the benefits (and capability) of rotating herbicide modes of action over time to prevent resistance.
  • Learn the strengths and weaknesses of the newest herbicides entering the turfgrass marketplace and how they fit into weed control programs.
(RT) Technologies for Sports Field Management: Current Trends and Future Applications

Weston Floyd, CSFM – Texas A&M University, Chase Straw, Ph.D. – Texas A&M University

This presentation will provide an overview of currently available technologies, which includes, but is not limited to, soil moisture sensors, GPS sprayers, autonomous mowers and painters, and drones. On-going research from Texas A&M University and others involving these technologies will be discussed, as will the future direction of technology in the industry.

Presentation objectives:

  • Participants will be introduced to several available technologies relative to sports field management, and then provided basic knowledge of how they work.
  • Science-based research will be presented regarding the use of available technologies specifically for sports field management.
  • Future direction of technology use in the sports field management industry will be discussed.
(B) Preparing For and Executing a Natural Grass Field Renovation Project

Michael Boekholder – Boekholder & Associates

Executing a field renovation project properly takes a multi-step approach to ensure the best project outcomes. Analyzing current field conditions, preparing accurate specifications and plans, selecting quality contractors, conducting a robust quality control program and ensuring a proper close out of the project are all critical steps needed to complete any construction project. Special attention will also be given on how to make sure your MiLB field is PDL compliant after a renovation project.

Attendees will:

  • Learn the steps necessary to properly manage a renovation or construction project.
  • Learn the importance of robust quality control protocols.
  • Learn the requirements of the MiLB PDL standards relating to playing field construction and renovation.
(PD) Mentoring in Sports Field Management

John Clintsman – Ensworth School, Mike Goatley, Ph.D. – Virginia Tech

Mentors and mentees both have responsibilities in forming a successful relationship, and while we typically think that the primary beneficiary of a mentoring relationship is for the mentee, both parties have plenty to gain (or lose) in the association. This presentation details the qualities of a successful mentoring relationship.

Attendees will learn:

  • The knowledge of what to look for in a mentor that is a good fit for them.
  • What is expected of them as a mentee in the mentoring relationship.
  • The knowledge of what characteristics have defined successful mentoring relationships within sports field management and other professions.

 

 Wed., Jan. 18

8-9:15 am – Conference Education

(TM) John Mascaro’s Photo Quiz Comes Alive

John Mascaro – Turf-Tec International

This is a live version of the Photo Quiz article that has appeared each month in Golf Course Management Magazine since September 2002 and SportsField Management Magazine since 2006.  The live Photo Quiz is an interactive presentation with questions on what caused a particular turfgrass problem and an answer on how it was solved.

Presentation objectives:

  • To show common and uncommon problems that occur on athletic fields and how sports field managers deal with these problems.
  • The Photo Quiz is one of the member’s favorite features in the magazine, and the live version is a real audience pleaser as it shows “the rest of the story”.
  • Learning to solve problems and overcome adversity.
(TM) Reinvigorate Your High School Sports Fields

Paul Cushing – Paul Cushing Agronomic Sports Turf Consulting Services

Reinvigorate Your High School Sports Fields is designed to help Sports Field Managers at the high school level, as well as coaches and administrators, in assisting them in the process of rejuvenating their athletic fields. This presentation touches upon weed control, animal abatement, soil testing, soil fertility programs, renovation programs (aerification and verticutting), proper height of cut (HOC), topdressing and seasonal scheduling for school district employees. This session will also include many case studies with school district sports fields over the past few years with before, during and after pictures to illustrate points and give Sports Field Managers practical knowledge to inspire change to their own high school athletic fields.

Attendees will take home:

  • Strong understanding of diagnosing broadleaf & grassy weeds and the control methods needed to create a monostand of turfgrass on their high school fields.
  • Animal control and strategies for minimizing their effect.
  • The importance of taking soil samples and the interpretation of important aspects of the results which include: water movement, sodium management and availability of nutrients in the soil.
(W) More Pop per Drop: Water and Oxygen Management 101

Bryan Hopkins, Ph.D. – Brigham Young University

Surveys show that most managers waste water, often resulting in oxygen deficiencies in the root zone. Using water for grass during a mega-drought is bringing us under severe scrutiny. It is possible (and even better for the grass) to grow healthy/functional grass with significantly less water.

Attendees will learn:

  • Fundamentals of the grass water stress index and plant-soil-water science.
  • State of the science for sensing and controlling technologies.
  • Case studies in irrigation management using cutting edge technology.
(RT) Maps Guide the Way: Building Pest Maps for Targeted Management

David McCall, Ph.D. – Virginia Tech

Natural playing surfaces are not uniform but are typically managed as if they are. Most pests are distributed in localized clusters, yet entire surfaces are treated equally with pesticides. However, there are both simple and complex strategies that allow turfgrass professionals to target applications. This presentation will provide tools available to help sports field managers apply products to the right place, while reducing total inputs.

Attendees will learn:

  • Both simple tips and more complex strategies to help take control of mapping pest outbreaks across their facilities.
  • How to use pest-incidence maps for precision turfgrass management, reducing both environmental and economic inputs.
  • How to use aerial imagery to state their case to upper administration for necessary management inputs and resources.
(B) Major League Infield Skin Management for High School Sports Fields
Preview this education session

Keith Fisher – Central Regional School District

What we do as Major League groundskeepers is no different from Little League, High School, Minor Leagues, except our attention to detail. I believe if we manage our time and our resources we can get that Major League quality no matter what products you have. I will cover how to achieve this at the high school level. Form how to start the process in the off-season or the time between games or tournaments and how to maintain that level throughout the season. I will cover how to use maintenance practices specific to your site.

Attendees will learn:

  • How to achieve proper moisture management.
  • How to choose products specific to your management style.
  • How to achieve proper time management to effectively use the skills taught.
(PD) Improving Our Mental Health

Lisa Goatley, M.S., L.P.C. – Counseling Solutions, LLC

Improving and protecting our mental health has benefits for us individually, for our families, for our employers, and for our communities. We can learn the basics of mental health, simple strategies to improve our mental health, and learn to recognize when we need to respond and take action. Becoming a mentally healthier person has benefits on many levels and, like any health behavior, is achievable.

Attendees will learn:

  • Ten strategies to improve mental/emotional health.
  • Four basics of mental health.
  • Skills to troubleshoot problem areas such as insomnia, overwhelming thoughts, stress, and unhealthy lifestyle factors.

 

9:30-10:45 am – Conference Education

(TM) Problem Solving for the Sports Field Manager

Mike Goatley, Ph.D. – Virginia Tech, Gregg Munshaw, Ph.D. – Pinnacle Agricultural Research Center

Problems in sports field management arise in a variety of situations and are not always agronomic in nature. Real-world sports field problems will be presented and the audience will be tasked with asking the right questions to begin the problem-solving effort, followed by the development of possible solutions to the problem.

Attendees will learn:

  • An improved ability in knowing the types of questions to ask about the problem.
  • New skills in sampling, diagnostic tools, and the use of consultants in problem solving.
  • An improved ability to communicate why problems occurred and how they were corrected with those associated with the facility.
(TM) Practical Calculations for Sports Field Managers: Sports Field Math 101

Cale Bigelow, Ph.D. – Purdue Turf Science, Barry Stewart, Ph.D. – Mississippi State University

Many athletic field managers are unsure of their math skills or might need a refresher. This workshop will cover common calculations that athletic field managers need to know how to do in the course of their jobs. Attendees will learn the practical aspects of calculating turfgrass management inputs like seed, fertilizer, chemicals, sand topdressing, etc. An emphasis will also be placed on calibrating various fertilizer and liquid application equipment.

After attending this presentation, the participant will be able to:

  • Determine how much product to apply to a given area with potential cost savings.
  • Calibrate liquid and dry equipment for product application.
  • Differentiate between liquid and dry products for various turfgrass management needs.
(TM) Weather, What’s the Big Deal

Ben Hartman – Wichita Wind Surge

Little do groundskeepers know, we are asked to be weathermen and make the call. This presentation is geared towards giving you the tools and resources you need to help better your call in the future!

Presentation objectives:

  • To help turfgrass managers understand how to read weather better.
  • To provide a few free resources for reading weather.
  • To gain confidence to make an educated call.
(RT) Robots in Sports Fields: Extending Your Crew with Automation

Preview this education session

Lorenzo Lopez, CSFM – SouthWest Sports Fields – Autmow

New technology shouldn’t be considered scary. We saw fear and pushback when central-controlled irrigation systems arrived, now we can’t live without those systems. I will share how simple robots can remove mundane tasks from our daily checklist. And show you how groundskeepers have successfully utilized robots into their current operations.

Three of the main things you will take away from this class will be:

  • Robots incorporate correct turfgrass practices more efficiently than we have been doing.
  • Robots are trained to do mundane tasks (they won’t take your jobs).
  • Robots and automation are coming whether we like it or not. The sooner we accept and learn how to use them, the sooner we can add value to our positions as Sports Field Managers, and add ‘Robot Expert’ to our resumes.
(B) Try Something New: Infield Transition from Calcined to Expanded Shale

Keith Winter – Fort Wayne Tincaps

The science of engineered soils has changed the way baseball fields are managed and maintained. For over three decades, calcined clay conditioners have been the industry standard.  For the 2022 season, The Fort Wayne TinCaps transitioned to the use of expanded shale as its conditioner on all clay surfaces, including the infield, game mound, plate, and bullpens.  What were the results and feedback, successes and failures? You don’t know until you are willing to “try something new.”

Presentation objectives:

  • Are there clearcut advantages or disadvantages to expanded shale over calcined clay as an infield, mound, and plate conditioner?
  • Infield soils work best with optimum moisture.  How did expanded shale help manage moisture?
  • Calcined’s success in rain situations is well documented.  Did expanded shale stand on its own in the rain or was calcined called to the rescue?
(PD) A New Look at Hiring

Bryce King, CPRP, AFO – Centerville City

Finding the right people for your organization can be challenging and time-consuming. Learn new ways to create powerful interviews, produce an out of the ordinary training program, birthday like first day experiences and reachable retention programs. This presentation will give specific examples of hiring from entry level to full time employees.

Presentation objectives:

  • Creating Powerful Moments – Participants will walk away with a new sense of understanding of the job hunt process from the applicant’s perspective. Participants will be able to apply new best practices standards for processing applications and the interview experience. Participants will learn about creating awesome first day experiences that will create lasting moments of retention.
  • Connection = Retention – Participants will create new ways to introduce employees to culture including “Swag Up”, “Tech Up”, and the Employee Cheat Sheet. Participants will be presented with specific parks and recreation onboarding examples for seasonal, part-time, and full-time staff.
  • Employee Progress – Participants will analyze best practices for employee performance measures. Participants will evaluate current processes and learn new ways to update employee performance.

 

11 am-12 pm – Keynote – A Safer Field of Play? The NFLPA and Its Advocacy for Player Health and Safety – DeMaurice Smith

DeMaurice Fitzgerald Smith is the Executive Director of the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA), the Labor Union for Players of the National Football League (NFL). He was reappointed to his fifth term as Executive Director in fall 2021.
In March 2020, he successfully negotiated his second long-term Collective Bargaining Agreement with the National Football League. The eleven-year deal will introduce an additional game into the regular season but also provide players with their guaranteed highest share of NFL revenue in history.
Almost immediately following ratification of the new collective bargaining agreement, he led the negotiations with the NFL to create comprehensive Covid-19 protections and protocols for his membership, obtained comprehensive testing and opt out provisions for players and designed the return to play agreements that secured NFL Players being paid their full salary for the season despite a projected $3 billion revenue shortfall for the NFL in 2020. The NFL was able to play an entire season, playoffs, and Super Bowl LV in Tampa Bay, Florida during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.
On August 4, 2011, Smith signed an historic 10-year Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) with NFL management, leading the Players through the owners’ 132-day lockout. The two Collective Bargaining Agreements remain the longest standing agreements between labor and management in any sports league.
Prior to his post at the NFLPA, Smith was an Assistant United States Attorney in the District of Columbia and was Counsel to then-Deputy Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr. Smith served as a Partner in the international law firms of Latham & Watkins, LLP and Squire Patton Boggs, LLP, in Washington, D.C. where he represented corporations, boards of directors and senior executives in civil and criminal matters.
Mr. Smith is a sought-after motivational speaker for corporations, labor unions, and charities, and a guest lecturer and distinguished speaker on college campuses around the country on the topics of leadership, ethics, sports law, and high-stakes negotiation. Smith, a native Washingtonian, resides in the Washington DC metropolitan area with his family.

DeMaurice Smith and the NFL Players Association have been at the forefront of issues surrounding NFL Player health and safety since the groundbreaking achievements negotiated into Smith’s first collective bargaining agreement with the National Football League.

Thurs., Jan. 19

8-10 am – Conference Education

(B) MLB Panel

Larry DiVito, CSFM – Minnesota Twins Baseball Club, Nicole Sherry – Baltimore Orioles, Keith Winter – Fort Wayne Tincaps, Luke Yoder – DuraEdge Products

Sports field managers from across the country will share the various management strategies they utilize to maintain baseball fields. After a brief introduction from each panelist, attendees will have the opportunity to ask questions and discuss challenges and solutions related to baseball fields and facilities.

(TM) Panel Discussion – Designing/Building a Sports Field with Grounds Managers in Mind

Casey Scheidel, CSFM – Iowa Sports Turf Management, Mark Baginski, LEED AP, RLA – Verde Design, Inc., Casey Carrick, CSFM – The University of North Carolina, Sam Titchener – Colony Landscape

As designers and builders, we often hear from facility owners and grounds managers after a facility has been in operation for a period of time about “things they wish had been done differently.” Wouldn’t it be nice if you considered those things BEFORE a new facility was designed and built?

Attendees will:

  • Learn about facility design that impacts Grounds Managers, and how those could be implemented at an existing facility.
  • Participate in an interactive discussion about what would make life as a Grounds Manager easier, while at the same time improving the facility.
  • Learn how to give ideas voice when planning a new facility and show your value to the process.
(TM) Supplier Panel

Representatives from Anuvia Plant Nutrients, Beacon Athletics, Hunter Industries, Pure Seed, Sipcam Agro USA Inc., Smithco, Inc., Sunbelt Rentals, Inc.

(DEI) Panel Discussion – Volunteering for Sports Field Events

Chris Ball, CSFM – Ewing Irrigation and Landscape, Amy Fouty, CSFM – The Motz Group, Sarah Martin, CSFM – City of Phoenix, Parks and Recreation Department, Maritza Martinez St. Louis CITY SC, Sun Roesslein, CSFM – Jeffco Schools Athletics

This panel will discuss the experience of volunteering for the Little League Softball World Series, the importance of such an event, and how that experience has made us better at our jobs.

Attendees will learn:

  • How volunteering somewhere else can benefit you at your facility.
  • The connections built during these events turn into a year-round idea bank for helping find solutions.
  • Tips for if you have an event or large project coming up and need extra hands.
(PD) Panel Discussion – Student Career Preparation

Wes Ganobcik – Columbus Clippers, Gerald Henry, Ph.D. – University of Georgia, Tony Leonard – Philadelphia Eagles, Nick McKenna, CSFM – Texas A&M Athletics, John Sorochan, Ph.D. – University of Tennessee

The panel will focus on professionalism, interviewing, negotiating, choosing an internship, grad school options, and other topics. Attendees will gain insight into skills and areas of focus that will benefit and help prepare them for their future careers.

Presentation objectives:

  • Students will learn how to choose the internship which will provide them the best possible experience going forward.
  • Students will be given a list of factors to research and consider when applying for jobs.
  • Students will be given key points on how to negotiate a starting salary.

 

1:30-3 pm          Conference Education (Repeat Sessions)

(RT) Innovations Role in Moving Toward Autonomous Maintenance Activities

Troy Carson – The Toro Company

Autonomy is an inevitable addition to most maintenance programs. We will explore how understanding and defining problems informs good innovation. We will look at the challenges that exist with transitioning to electric equipment and data driven maintenance. Finally, we will examine how autonomy can be a solution to some maintenance challenges.

After attending this session, participants will have gained a better understanding of WHY seeking to properly understand customer problems is key to good innovation; WHAT challenges exist with the acceptance of new product categories such as electrification and data driven maintenance; and HOW autonomous equipment and data driven management may/will fit into their maintenance activities.

(TM) Seed to Play in 4 Weeks

Pamela Sherratt – The Ohio State University

This session will focus on establishing playing surfaces in a time crunch. Topics will include species selection, pest control, and water and nutrient management.

Attendees will:

  • Learn about agronomy practices that can be undertaken to facilitate faster grass establishment
  • Discuss ways in which to accomplish this using natural organic and conventional methods
  • Interact with colleagues & share ideas on this topic during the Q&A portion of the session
(S) Does Maintenance Impact Synthetic Fields?

Kyley Dickson, Ph.D. – The University of Tennessee

The presentation will cover the minimum maintenance needs of a synthetic turf field and highlight the key factors that influence the need for maintenance. Practical tips for improving field playability and performance for any budget synthetic field will also be covered.

Presentation objectives:

  • Teach the basics of synthetic field maintenance.
  • Talk about what research has shown to improve synthetic field longevity and performance.
  • Instruct useful methods and tools for precision maintenance to reduce cost and improve field playability.

 

Post Conference Virtual Education

Week 1 – Tuesday, Jan. 24

2-3 pm ET

(PD) What the Next Generation Should Know About Choosing A Job

Wes Ganobcik – Columbus Clippers

Wes will discuss everything a student needs to consider when choosing the internship that will provide the best experience. He will also discuss the factors that a young turfgrass manager needs to consider when choosing a job and negotiating a starting salary.

Attendees will learn the following:

  • How to choose the internship that will provide the best possible experience going forward.
  • Factors to research and consider when applying for jobs.
  • Key points on how to negotiate a starting salary.

Register Here

 

3:15-4:15 pm ET

(W) Irrigation System Design Approaches to Minimize Surge Pressure

Kurt Thompson – IrriTech Training

This advanced discussion takes the irrigation system manager, contractor, or designer through the cause and effect of the velocity of the water in the pipe and size of valves on the damaging cyclical forces that affect the operational costs and sprinkler performance, and then practical methods to minimize those surge pressures.

At the conclusion of the workshop, the learner should be able to:

  • Understand the hydraulic principles that contribute to surge pressure.
  • Use the calculated worst-case surge pressure in a mainline to determine the specific velocity in a mainline to control mainline surges.
  • Select the pipe size, valve size, and other components to minimize pressure surges in mainline pipes.

Register Here

 

Week 2 – Tuesday, Jan. 31

2-3 pm ET

(W) Irrigating with Reuse Water and Managing Salts and pH

Bryan Hopkins, Ph.D. – Brigham Young University

Managing salts and pH are critical, especially when using irrigation water that is marginal. Impacts on plant health, nutrition, toxicities, soil microbiology, specific ion toxicities, and water infiltration will be discussed.

Attendees will learn:

  • Fundamentals of pH and salt chemistry.
  • How to assess pH, overall salt impacts, and specific ion toxicities.
  • Examples of innovative irrigation management techniques and products that may help better manage sports fields, as well as when not to use these products.

Register Here

 

3:15-4:15 pm

(TM) Data and Decisions: Applying Research in Sports Field Management Practices

Daniel Sandor, Ph.D. – Virginia Tech, Tyler Carr – University of Tennessee

Sports field managers (SFMs) are required to produce playing surfaces that maximize field quality, playability, and safety, in an environmentally-sound and economically-sustainable manner. To determine which products and practices are right for managing their field, SFMs must first understand the importance of the scientific method and be able to correctly interpret scientific data and research findings.

Attendees will learn:

  • The significance of the scientific method and explore how field experiments are conducted.
  • How to correctly interpret scientific data and apply research findings that will align with their budget.
  • How to conduct their own experiments to evaluate how product applications or management practices may affect the playing-surface quality, playability, and safety of the fields at their facility.

Register Here

 

Week 3 – Tuesday, Feb. 7

2-3 pm

(RT) From Cornfield to a College Football Field

Tom Gould – Iowa State University, Adam Thoms, Ph.D. – Iowa State University, Josh Tvrdik – Iowa State Athletics Department

This presentation will cover how Iowa State University grew their own sand-based football field on a cornfield near the college. We will discuss how the ISU Athletic Department supported student education by funding students and giving them turfgrass management experience during this project. We will also discuss all of the steps to go from a cornfield to a sand-based sod to installing and maintaining the new playing surface on MidAmerican Field at Jack Trice Stadium. This presentation will cover sand selection, cultivar decisions, fertility and herbicides used as well as steps to care for the field such as mowing height and frequency. Finally, we will present how the field played during its first season in action.

Attendees will learn:

  • Practical application of proper sand/sod selection.
  • How to recruit future turfgrass managers with unique projects like this.
  • Fertility program examples for growing in a sand-based athletic field.

Register Here

 

3:15-4:15 pm

(TM) What is Organic Sports Field and Grounds Management?  

Brad Park – Rutgers University

The objective of this presentation is to describe various management systems employed in turfgrass with emphasis on organic turfgrass management. United States Department of Agriculture National Organic Program (USDA NOP) and Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI)-derived principles will be used as the basis for the description of organic sports fields and grounds management.

Presentation objectives include:

  • The attendee will be able to differentiate calendar-based preventative turfgrass programs, Integrated Pest Management (IPM), synthetic pesticide free management, and organic turfgrass management systems.
  • Per USDA NOP and OMRI guidelines, the attendee will be able to recognize materials that qualify for use in organic sports field and grounds management systems.
  • Case studies will be described to provide the attendee with examples of how various management systems have been implemented in public sports field and grounds scenarios.

Register Here

 

Week 4 – Tuesday, Feb 14

2-3 pm

(RT) Do Sustainable Varieties Impact Field Playability?

Kyley Dickson, Ph.D. – The University of Tennessee, Gregg Munshaw, Ph.D. – Pinnacle Agricultural Research Center

This talk will cover how sustainable turfgrass varieties can reduce inputs. We will discuss where to find information on sustainable turfgrass varieties in addition to their pros and cons. Also, discuss how sustainable grass varieties perform in player to surface interaction and ball to surface interactions for athletic fields.

Presentation objectives:

  • Teach how sustainable grass varieties impact field management practices.
  • Discuss the pros and cons of different grasses as well as a list of cultivars that have been shown to require fewer inputs including their strengths and weaknesses.
  • Contrast how sustainable turfgrass varieties compare to traditional varieties in surface performance and playability on athletic fields.

Register Here

 

3:15-4:15 pm

(PD) Crossing The Bridge: Working with Athletic Administration

Marc Moran, CSFM – Atlee High School

This presentation focuses on building, maintaining or repairing a healthy relationship between the sports field manager and athletic administration. The relationship is critical for the long-term success of the strong sports field system, no matter if you are at the K-12, Collegiate or professional level. Understanding the challenges of each allows the other to effectively make decisions and tackle issues or set effective goals for the athletic facility.

Attendees will learn:

  • Effective communication skills with members of the upper management structure.
  • How to develop a plan that meets the needs of all stakeholders.
  • How to work with limiting budget constraints while being effective.

Register Here