Messages from President Simpson to the Membership

Beginning on March 12, President Jimmy Simpson, CSFM, has sent weekly messages to the membership. They are included in their entirety below.


2021 SFMA Conference and Trade Show going virtual

I hope that you and your family are well and managing the challenges of our new environment. 2020 has been a very tough year and a lot has happened since my last address to the membership. Over the past several months the SFMA has been monitoring the situation with COVID-19 and looking at many different options for presenting our 2021 Conference and Trade Show. I want to take this opportunity to share with you that earlier today, the SFMA Board of Directors unanimously decided that for the safety of our members, corporate partners, and headquarters team that it would be best to present the 2021 conference and show in a 100% virtual format.

The Conference and Trade show is our premier continuing education event, and this was not a decision that was easily reached. I would like to recognize the fantastic work done by our conference and education committee as well as SFMA headquarters team in preparing to present a virtual conference for the membership. Although we will never be able to replace the in-person conference programming, this committee has been working very hard to develop a multi-faceted educational program that will continue the tradition of the annual conference as the SFMA’s premier learning event of the year. In the coming weeks, please be on the lookout for more information related to how you can be a part of this once in a lifetime virtual event.

Thank you for your membership, patience and understanding as the SFMA continues to try and provide you with the information and benefits that you have come to expect from the association. Please feel free to reach out to me with any questions or concerns that you may have.


Jimmy Simpson


Celebrating Our Profession

Our profession has come together so strongly and SFMA wants to celebrate you! Please enjoy this video that highlights how members are dedicated to working safely and preparing for the return of sports. All that is left to say is a simple, ‘thank you’.

Jimmy Simpson, CSFM
SFMA President


Be Safe and Be Ready…

As many people across the world are starting to return to the work environments they once knew, they are finding something totally different. Is this our new normal? I do not think anyone truly knows, but what we do know is that if we care for each other and do our best to work safely, our return to work will take us all to great heights. To work as safe as possible, please continue to heed the advice of your local health care professionals as you and your teams begin to get back to work.

Over the past several weeks the SFMA has worked hard to provide resources that field managers all over the world can use to help maintain their fields with limited resources or recover their fields from long periods of time with no maintenance. The recovery task force, in collaboration with SFMA headquarters team, board of directors, committees, and numerous individuals in our membership have worked to hear the needs of sports field managers across the globe. These collaborations have yielded resources that are concise, relevant, and consumable by everyone involved with sports fields. These resources are listed below:

  • Route to Recovery Webpage
  • Route to Recovery – Healing Through Sports Digital Guidebook
  • The SFMA Commercial Partners Virtual Learning Lab
  • Provided access to the entire Sports Field Institute Information free for 6 months for anyone who needs support on their fields during this time
  • Virtual Town Hall Tuesdays
  • Re-tooled the job board to focus on internships and helping students make connections
  • Enhanced social media platforms for collaboration and awareness

The effects of this pandemic are going to linger for some time. I believe that people feel some sense of healing through sports. As facilities across the county begin to open and sports start back it becomes incumbent upon us, the sports field managers, to ensure that our fields are ready for safe play. The town hall meetings on Tuesdays have presented a great opportunity to share ideas on how to cope with issues you may be facing. Next week we will have a strong agronomic focus as four outstanding turfgrass professors will lead us in the discussion.

Please be safe as you and your teams work to get facilities ready to open and back into play. If you have a need that we can help to fill, reach out to me or SFMA headquarters. We will do our best to provide what we can. Good luck, stay safe, be ready, and thank you for all that you do all over the world for sports fields and facilities.

Jimmy Simpson, CSFM
SFMA President


Town Hall Touchdown… Collaboration fuels the recovery efforts

Much like the world we find ourselves in today we are in some phase of the recovery from this crisis. As exhibited in the SFMA’s very first virtual town hall the 211 participants shared how they are dealing with this crisis and what it means to them and their team members. One thing is for sure: the town hall illustrated to me that no one is going through this alone. The format was a beacon of light showing support for each other.

The virtual town halls will continue Tuesdays at 3 P.M. EDT and are open to everyone even if they have a specific topic or group focus. I encourage you to try one out and collaborate with our peers from all over the country.

Another item that is new this week is the digitized route to recovery guide developed by the Recovery Task Force. In this guide you will find useful articles, letters, and an infographic to use during this recovery. This guide is a living document, and that is why we have chosen the digital platform for delivery. Please check back often; updates are planned as new information is known. If there is something missing please reach out, join the collaboration and share your ideas.

The route to recovery web page at SFMA.org continues to grow with additional resources for our members. There are links to everything from virtual town hall meeting sign up to mental health resources. We hope that the web page and the route to recovery guide will help deliver the information you need to move forward in a positive way.

As I have said from the beginning this crisis is something that we have to navigate together. So many people continue to contribute to SFMA’s efforts that I would be remiss if I did not take the time to thank them. This recovery effort would not be possible without your input and without a membership of strong, resilient sports field managers all over this country. Collaboration within the membership has truly been our key to getting to this point and the continued collaborations is what will make us stronger than ever once this crisis ends. Please do not hesitate to reach out to the SFMA or me personally if we can be of any assistance to you.

Jimmy Simpson, CSFM
SFMA President


Continuing Collaboration…

As we all move through yet another week of this crisis, I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has collaborated in the recovery effort to this point. The efforts that have gone into this have been tremendous and so many people have raised their hands in a willingness to help or share ideas. This effort has positioned the SFMA so that resources and information to help with the recovery are now at the fingertips of our members. The offerings on our Route to Recovery webpage continue to expand and the technical materials available grow each week. Please continue to check SFMA.org for updates and share any ideas that you may have with us.

The breadth of this crisis has truly affected everyone in one way or another. In an effort to provide avenues for all members to get the information they need, SFMA is now retooling the job board with a special focus on internships. Students coming into this industry are extremely important to SFMA and the experience they gain during internships is invaluable. What we are now hearing is that many of our student members have had their internships cancelled. This is very concerning not only to our association, but for the entire future of the industry. The job board retooling will help students and employers make connections for summer internships that are still available. I encourage students and employers to make use of this job board to ensure that our students find that valuable experience for their future.

As this collaborative approach to recovery continues, I would like to share a wonderful idea that the technology committee has created and tested on the Zoom meeting platform. This committee has created an opportunity for the SFMA to host virtual Town Hall Meetings. These meetings will be a forum to discuss topics that are affecting our industry and how we are addressing them. Each meeting will have a moderator to provide questions and panelists, from different membership segments, that will present on what their maintenance practices are during this crisis. There will also be a forum for attendees to ask questions to the panelists and other attendees during the Town Hall. I am excited to share that these SFMA Town Hall meetings are currently scheduled to run for the next 5 weeks on Tuesdays at 3 p.m. EDT, and I truly hope you will join one of these meetings, so that you too can be part of the collaboration that makes this association special.

Over these past few weeks, the SFMA and many of our members have worked to develop resources that can help our membership and others recover their fields from this crisis. I can never say thank you enough to everyone in this association for your time, efforts, collaboration, and words of encouragement to each other throughout this crisis. We are not near the finish, but if we can continue to collaborate and support each other during this time not only will our fields be stronger than ever but so will our relationships with each other.

As always if there is ever anything the SFMA or I can do for you please reach out.

Jimmy Simpson, CSFM
SFMA President


More Resources at Your Fingertips…

As SFMA continues to ramp up its efforts to support sports field professionals, we have engaged several groups to compile relevant resources to this crisis. We are dedicating a portion of SFMA.org to a special Route to Recovery – Healing Through Sports guide that is being developed according to three principles. We are focusing on safety and health — both mental and physical — of the sports field manager. The information presented will be clear, concise, easy-to-find and shareable with others. Finally, our resources must be relevant to all levels of the profession from students to Certified Sports Field Managers to our administrators.

The SFMA’s Commercial Advisory Council has also focused its efforts on working with our valued commercial partners. They have created the SFMA Commercial Partner’s Virtual Learning Lab. This learning laboratory is a repository for information and learning initiatives from the Commercial Partners of SFMA. This collaborative effort between the SFMA and our commercial partners allows for partners to link directly with SFMA so that members have access to critically important training and education all in the same space. This portal is up and running at SFMA.org and new content will be added as often as it is provided. As a result of this partnership SFMA will be awarding CEU’s for some of the training and education that is presented in this learning lab.

To streamline communications during this critical period the SFMA has also reached out to chapter leaders to begin a dialogue on how this crisis is affecting their membership. This dialogue serves to help bridge the gap and determine what SFMA and the local chapters can do to support each other and their respective members. Our chapters are our lifeblood as they help make information locally relevant. This crisis has been such a locally focused event as it relates to restrictions at work that the SFMA’s 32 chapters have been instrumental to providing support for sports field managers in their area. Each chapter has different programs and I encourage you to seek out your local chapter for more locally relevant information.

There is no right and no wrong in this crisis and we are always looking for ideas or information that can help others. If you would like to share an idea or if you need anything, please do not hesitate to reach out to the SFMA or myself and we will do the best we can to help.

Jimmy Simpson, CSFM
SFMA President


New Critical Resources for Essential Athletic Field Maintenance

The Sports Turf Managers Association (SFMA) has long been recognized as a leader in providing educational information that helps athletic field managers complete their essential function of providing safe athletic fields. There is no doubt that the work performed by our members is essential. Municipalities, local governments as well as colleges all over the country have acknowledged so during this time of crisis. In many locations, we find that members are busy preparing and working on their surfaces in the hopes that they will be filled with athletes soon. As we plan for this return, we are working differently than before this crisis. Thank you for heeding the warnings of the medical professionals and practicing social distancing. These critically important practices will properly prepare us for the day when play resumes.

The first action that the Board of Directors has taken is to create the SFMA guest membership program. This six-month membership program is open to anyone and will provide access to SFMA’s learning programs and a number of past conference presentations. We are the industry’s continuing education leader and this program further illustrates that point. We hope that you will agree that this key step in sharing our resources with peers who are not members will help the industry recover and advance. A rising tide raises all boats!

We have three additional immediate initiatives: A route to recovery guide, a chapter outreach program and a communications plan to strategic non-industry associations and their members. Stay tuned for updates and more information on these and other programs as they continue to develop.

This crisis has affected everyone differently and left many wondering what the new normal will be. There are several things that I feel are important to remember. First, collaboration is critical to making the best decisions possible and second, it is your right to experience whatever emotions you are feeling, while being aware that others are enduring their own unique circumstances.
Please reach out to the SFMA or to me personally if there is anything that we can do to help you during this time.

Jimmy Simpson, CSFM
SFMA President


Sports Field Managers are Essential to Athletic Surface Safety
Jimmy Simpson, CSFM, SFMA Board President

The constantly shifting sands of the COVID-19 crisis has magnified the many challenges everyone is currently facing.  We are in a humanitarian crisis with significant loss of life, and as important as our sports fields are, the safety and well-being of our members is a priority. We will bring our fields back, stronger and healthier than ever.

I would be remiss for not taking the time to thank all first responders, doctors and health care providers and their families for all they’ve given and sacrificed during this fight against COVID-19. Many industries have banded together to provide a cohesive response to this crisis, and I know our industry will follow suit.

As shelter-in-place orders expand across the country, one constant is green industry and maintenance personnel being deemed “essential service workers” with relation to public health. I would like to express my gratitude to all the persons who in recent weeks have recognized our industry as essential and allowed some level of maintenance to take place in many areas of the country. Being deemed essential is important as it confirms that leaders within individual communities see the value of our work and the services we provide.

Sports field managers recognize the critical role we play to maintain the safety of athletic surfaces. As this country shifts from crisis-management to recovery, outdoor facilities will be top of mind for everyone. Our web page is stocked with information that can help. People will be eager to recreate, get outside and in-turn put a large amount of stress on athletic surfaces nationwide for their personal and mental health and wellbeing. By performing some level of maintenance, fields will be ready for the influx of activity much more quickly than if we were unable to maintain the fields.

As you and your teams navigate these times of uncertainty, remember that it is important to document your work; both in writing and with pictures. Documentation allows you to provide status updates to leadership teams regarding team activities while adhering to proper social distancing practices. In many cases, our leaders have trusted us, and it is our duty to act responsibly while doing everything possible to protect the safety of those who use our surfaces.

Thank you for the patience as we collectively navigate this crisis. The Sports Turf Managers Association (SFMA) has a wide variety of available resources for you. As the recovery begins, the SFMA is poised to help you with appropriate educational resources. Please reach out to the association, the Board of Directors or me personally if there is anything, we can do to help you during this time.

Jimmy Simpson, CSFM
SFMA President


A Message from President Simpson

Dear Member:

In this time of such uncertainty, we are all affected in one way or another by the issue before us. As we struggle to find some sense of normalcy in the ever changing response to the COVID-19 outbreak, the one sense of solace for us all is our athletic fields and facilities. A little over a week ago, Past President Jody Gill, CSFM sent me a note about the possibility of complete facility closures forcing us to walk away from our work. This was very forward thinking at the time, and I would like to thank him for bringing up that concern when he did.

As time has progressed, we are finding that more and more of us are being asked to walk away from our fields and facilities each day. I wanted to share five things that our team used when we were asked to work from home in hopes that it may help you with preparing your fields for at least a few weeks with very little maintenance time.

Its OK to Let Go
5 Small Things That May Make Walking Away from Our Fields a Little Easier

  1. Safety – Walk all your fields and look for any safety-related items. Record your walk and repair any items you find. Even though we are not at work, citizens or others may still use the fields while we are away. The SFMA’s Playing Conditions Index can be found here and is a fantastic tool for recording your safety walks.
  2. Use of Plant Growth Regulators (PGRs) – Look at using the PGRs to reduce the plants’ vertical growth, water use, and fertilizer needs.
  3. Mowing Height – Consider raising the mowing height which can reduce the need for mowing. Follow the 1/3 rule when mowing to prevent plant injury. This will be very important as we look to bring fields back to normal after the outbreak is over, and it is also essential to maintaining plant health.
  4. Fertilization – Look at using a pre-emergent for weed control as well as slow release fertilizers that will provide the plant with nutrition without pushing unwanted vegetative growth.
  5. Irrigation – Look to smart controllers to help with maintaining proper moisture in the soils. Without the smart controllers, local weather services can provide Evapotranspiration (ET) rates daily so you can judge the amount of water the plants have been using and provide an irrigation cycle if necessary. Another option is to make sure that your irrigation controller is set to run your current program and have a rain sensor installed that will help monitor rainfall and can automatically cut off the cycle if rain is present.

Times have undoubtedly changed, but your passion, energy and efforts will shine through as they always have. In this time of uncertainty, remain confident that you are the expert of your fields and facilities, and you know what is best for them. Use that knowledge to find solutions to that will allow you to comply with the request to walk away and still do the best you can to protect your fields and the safety of the end users. This organization is here to support you and there are many resources in our Sports Field Management Institute to as it relates to fields and even personal growth. You have access to these through your SFMA membership. Please reach out to SFMA if there is anything, we can do to help you moving forward.


SFMA President
Jimmy Simpson, CSFM


Are Total Facility Shutdowns Imminent?

Dear Member:

As we all deal personally with our own and our family’s health and safety issues, SFMA is also hearing about workplace challenges, including shutdowns of entire athletic facilities. We encourage you to have a specific conversation with your employer about the needs of the living, growing plants that are your sports fields. Although the entire facility may have restrictions, make sure your administration is aware of the facility’s maintenance needs and that you may need an exemption. Bring a plan of action to show them how you will conduct your work without coming in contact with any other team members. Be prepared to explain what can happen to the field without some minimal care. Of course, human life is of paramount importance, much more important than a field, but a plan that highlights no interaction with any staff may be an acceptable compromise.

Your board of directors is available for questions. Please contact SFMAinfo@SFMA.org or contact me directly at ph. 919-380-2126.

Sincerely yours,
Jimmy Simpson, CSFM
SFMA President