30th annual SFMA Conference highlights; Fowler wins Gill Founders Award

The Phoenix Convention Center housed more than 2,300 participants from over 14 different countries last week for SFMA’s 30th Annual Conference and Exhibition. Over the course of four days, attendees participated in industry education, networking events and exhibitor demonstrations. The event was highlighted by a volunteer rebuild of Lindo Park baseball field, two “Seminar on Wheels” tours of Phoenix area sports complexes, SAFE fundraisers and the SFMA Awards Reception and Banquet.

Attendees enjoyed 50 learning sessions and panels given by commercial representatives and renowned industry leaders. Sessions were split into eight tracks including turfgrass management, facility management, synthetic, pest control, water, industry developments, baseball and professional development.

SAFE, the association’s charitable foundation, raised funds through a bowling competition, live and silent auctions and a golf tournament at Grand Canyon University Golf Course. Proceeds benefit educational programs, scholarships and grants enriching communities through safe, sustainable sports and recreational fields.

Congratulations to our “Field of the Year” recipients in professional, collegiate and schools and parks categories. The prestigious Founders Awards for signification contributions to the profession was bestowed to:

Dick Ericson Award: Nicole Sherry, Baltimore Orioles

Dr. William H. Daniel Award: Pam Sherratt, Ohio State University Sports Turf Extension Specialist

George Toma Golden Rake: Abby McNeal, CSFM, CPRP, City and County of Denver Parks

Harry C. Gill Award: Jeff Fowler, Penn State University Extension

Winners of the “Student Challenge,” based on proctored exams covering the sports turf industry, included:

Four-Year Programs:

First Place: Iowa State University #434 – Alex Polnow, Thomas Gould, Kylah Crooks, Marcus O’Brien

Second Place: Penn State University #404 – Ian Patterson, David Hendler, Nicholas Chamberlin, Seth Re

Third Place: University of Maryland #417 – Brendan Keane, Benjamin Word, Maxwell Sturges, Clayton Young

Two-Year Programs:

First Place: Penn State University #203 – Raul Iurk, Aaron Cabahaw, Marcus Lounello, Alexander Panzenahagen

Second Place: Mt. San Antonio College #204 – Blake Bernstein, George Figueroa, Maria Rivas, Daniel Akers

Thirds Place: Mt. San Antonio College #212 – Kel Henderson, Miriam Carmona, Ryan Costello, Jose Gutierrez

“Growing Weeders into Leaders”

If you happened to miss our Keynote Speaker, Jeff McManus, and his presentation on how to turn Weeders into Leaders – here’s your chance to hear his message. Watch here.

Thank you to everyone who attended or participated this year. We are so excited to see you next year in West Palm Beach, FL. Jan. 14-17, 2020!