Education Highlights

Education Sessions:

Tuesday, February 19:

Creating a Pivot Point: Leveraging Change Without Sacrificing Results
Shawn Rhodes, former US military war correspondent

In the world of turfgrass, the best plans never work out as planned. To address the constant challenge of managing change and ensuring goals achieve results, TEDx speaker and nationally-syndicated columnist Shawn Rhodes will share how the best teams and organizations across industries are: 

  • Planning for their plans to change
  • Leveraging change when it occurs
  • Ensuring the experiences of senior leaders don't leave when the people do

Shawn Rhodes is an international expert in creating high-performing organizations. He's a Tampa-based TEDx speaker and his work studying organizations in more than two dozen countries has been published in news outlets around the world including TIME, CNN, NBC, Forbes and INC. His clients have included Deloitte, ConAgra, Serta-Sealy and dozens of similar businesses. Shawn is also a nationally-syndicated columnist with the Business Journals and author of the new book "Pivot Point: Turn On A Dime Without Sacrificing Results."

Business Office Best Practices
Panel Discussion

Preparing for & Adjusting to Change in Your Workplace
Shawn Rhodes, former US military war correspondent

Principles & Practices for Extending Sod Shelf-Life - Funded by TLI
Roch Gaussoin, PhD
Jay McCurdy, PhD

As soon as it’s harvested, sod begins to decline in health and ability to transplant successfully. Sod shelf-life can be limited by many variables, including internal pallet temperature as well as lack of light and moisture. The principals for success include: harvest healthy grass that’s not too thatchy or over fertilized, keep sod cool during storage and transport, prevent desiccation of exposed sod edges, moist but not excessively wet sod bed, irrigate immediately upon installation. Ongoing research suggests that other practices may help extend the time that sod can remain on pallet. Join Drs. Gaussoin and McCurdy as they discuss this important and timely topic.


Roch E. Gaussoin, Ph.D., is a professor in the department of agronomy and horticulture at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.  He earned his bachelors and master’s degrees at New Mexico State University and his Ph.D. at Michigan State University. Gaussoin is currently teaching in the Global Undergraduate Programming area at UNL, working with students from Rwanda. Gaussoin’s excellence in the turfgrass industry has been well-documented through the numerous awards he has received, including the Fred V. Grau Turfgrass Science Award from the Crop Science Society of America, the Distinguished Service Award from the Nebraska Turfgrass Association, and the Exceptional Service Award from the Nebraska Golf Course Superintendents Association and the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America Col. John Morley Distinguished Service Award.


Jay McCurdy, PhD,
is an assistant professor and extension specialist at Mississippi State University in Starkville, Mississippi. He earned a bachelor’s degree in plant and soil sciences from the University of Tennessee-Martin, a master’s degree in plant sciences from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, and a doctorate in agronomy and soils from Auburn University. McCurdy grew up on sod farm in western Tennessee and was the inaugural winner of The Lawn Institute’s Dr. Henry W. Indyk Scholarship. His research interests include turfgrass weed ecology and management, herbicide resistance, pesticide fate, sod production, and wildlife habitat inclusion within urban environments. He serves as an academic liaison for the Louisiana-Mississippi Golf Course Superintendent’s Association and is advisor for the Mississippi Turfgrass Association.


Breakout # 1 - 1:30 - 2:30 pm

New Natural Turfgrass Marketing Tools in the TPI Member-OnlyToolkit
Casey Reynolds, PhD
Representatives from FleishmanHillard

Join TPI’s own Dr. Casey Reynolds and representatives from our PR firm FleishmanHillard as they demonstrate the new TPI Member-Only Toolbox and show you how the PR pieces created specifically for TPI members can help you market your business and promote the use of natural turfgrass!

Turfgrass May Not be as Thirsty as Your Neighbors Think - Funded by TLI
Douglas Karcher, Phd
John C. Stier, PhD

Join us to learn the how much water turf really uses as we show results from a Lawn Institute study from six states ranging from the West to East coasts, Upper Midwest to the South. Learn new information from the National Turfgrass Evaluation Program (NTEP) and the Turfgrass Water Conservation Alliance (TWCA) on cultivars that can retain green color during drought, and how soil moisture and rainfall sensors can aid smart irrigation for lawns.


Douglas Karcher, PhD,
is a Professor in the Department of Horticulture at the University of Arkansas. He earned his B.S. from The Ohio State University and his master’s and Ph.D. from Michigan State University. Karcher’s research interests focus on soil physical properties, water and organic matter management, cultural practices, fertility and technology. Besides maintaining an extensive research program, he serves on the Arkansas Turfgrass Association Board and is a former chair of the Turfgrass Science Division of the Crop Science Society of America. In addition to participation in numerous state and regional turf conferences across the United States, Karcher has lectured in Spain, Germany, Italy and Thailand on various topics including water management, foliar fertility and soil cultivation.


John Stier, Ph.D.,
is a professor and associate dean for the Herbert College of Agriculture al Sciences and Natural Resources at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. He earned his B.S. and master's degrees at The Ohio State University and his Ph.D. at Michigan State University. Stier’s research revolves around various environmental issues and management of turfgrass (e.g., nutrient and pesticide fate, invasive grasses, carbon sequestration), shade and cold stress, herbicides, and weed management. His excellence in the turfgrass industry has been well-documented through the numerous awards he has received, including the Martin & Ruth Massengale Lectureship from the Crop Science Society of America, the Robert G. and Hazel T. Spitze Land Grant Faculty Award, College of Agricultural & Life Sciences and School of Human Ecology, Univ. Wisconsin-Madison for excellence in teaching, research, and service, Pound Extension Award, UW-College of Agricultural and Life Sciences; the Excellence in Research Award, Seed Research of Oregon; and he has been recognized by the US Environmental Protection Agency for the schools integrated pest management program. He has also been honored as a Fellow in both the Agronomy Society of America and the Crop Science Society of America, which is the most prestigious award offered by both societies. In addition to participation in many state and regional turfgrass conferences around the United States, Stier has lectured on in Argentina and Germany on shaded turf. He enjoys soccer, bicycling, reading, hiking as well as spending time with his family in his spare time.

What Drives the Market: Pricing, Marketing, & Forcasting
Benjamin Campbell, PhD

You cannot run a successful turfgrass business without understanding the business side of turf production. Come learn about

  • how the turf market has and is evolving and what these changes mean to your business;
  • different pricing strategies--find out how to choose the strategy that works best for your business;
  • various ways to forecast demand and how these forecasts should drive your decision making.

Breakout # 2 - 2:45 - 3:45 pm

What I Wish I'd Known
Panel Discussion

Turfgrass May Not be as Thirsty as Your Neighbors Think - Funded by TLI
Douglas Karcher, Phd
John C. Stier, PhD

What Drives the Market: Pricing, Marketing, & Forcasting
Benjamin Campbell, PhD

Wednesday, February 20:

Education Session: 9:00 - 10:30 am


The Grass is Always Greener...Until It Isn't: The Chancing Perceptions of Public Opinion

Phil Davis, Tungsten Branding

The turfgrass industry faces daily challenges from groups who question the its maintenance requirements, its hardiness as a playing surface, or its environmental value. Come hear how industries such as the dairy, pork or egg industries have successfully rebranded themselves in the face of perception challenges and find out what we as turfgrass producers can learn from these industries.

With over 25 years of brand name development experience, Phil Davis is one of the most quoted company naming experts globally. Phil's branding articles are frequently referenced by those researching and publishing branding related topics. He was recognized with a Price Waterhouse Up and Comer Award at the start of his career and continued by building a marketing firm that attracted a broad range of retail, medical, industrial and B2B clientele. Phil has worked regionally, nationally and internationally to build clear, compelling brand identities that convey a cohesive message. His commitment to brand clarity is the hallmark of Tungsten Branding. When not actively naming a company, Phil speaks on the subject of "brilliant branding" and best industry practices. He has served as both keynote branding speaker, as well as subject matter expert on brand development.

New Natural Turfgrass Marketing Tools in the TPI Member-OnlyToolkit
Casey Reynolds, PhD
Representatives from FleishmanHillard

Join TPI’s own Dr. Casey Reynolds and representatives from our PR firm FleishmanHillard as they demonstrate the new TPI Member-Only Toolbox and show you how the PR pieces created specifically for TPI members can help you market your business and promote the use of natural turfgrass!


Plant & Soil Interaction for Sod Producers
Nick Christians, PhD
Adam Thoms, PhD

Come learn as two leading soil health experts join together to talk about the nutrient levels in in your soil. They will cover both macro and micro nutrients, as well as discuss at what levels deficiencies occur. You will learn how to manage soil pH to improve growth and how to identify problems in the field, especially during establishment.

Attendees are encouraged to send their soil tests to Dr. Christians and Dr. Thoms in advance or bring them to the presentation for discussion. Contact Karen Cooper at kcooper@TurfGrassSod.org for more information.

Nick Christians, Ph.D., is a professor of horticulture at Iowa State University. He earned his B.S. degree at Colorado State University and his master's and Ph.D. at The Ohio State University. Christians’ research focuses on turfgrass fertility, weed control, growth regulators and naturally occurring herbicides for the turf industry. His university appointment consists of a blend of teaching and research. His excellence in the turfgrass industry has been well-documented through the numerous awards, including  the Iowa State Horticultural Society Honor Award, an appointment to the Musser International Turfgrass Foundation Board of Directors, the Fred Grau Turfgrass Research Award from the Crop Science Society of America, the Distinguished Service Award from the Iowa GCSA and the Meritorious Service Award from the Iowa Turfgrass Institute.

In addition to his participation in many state and regional turfgrass conferences around the United States, Christians has lectured on basic turfgrass management in Spain, Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong, Italy, Germany and Japan.  In his free time, he enjoys spending time with his grandchildren.


Adam Thoms, Ph.D., is an assistant professor in the department of horticulture at Iowa State University. He earned his B.S. in horticulture with the turfgrass option from Iowa State University, a master’s in plant science in the turfgrass option from the University of Tennessee and his Ph.D. in plants, insects and soils from the University of Tennessee. His appointment allows him the opportunity to be involved with extension, research and teaching. Thoms’ research focuses on the performance of turfgrasses subjected to various management techniques.

Innovative Farm Management
Diane & Greg Mischel

What I Wish I'd Known
Panel Discussion

Plant & Soil Interaction for Sod Producers
Nick Christians, PhD
Adam Thoms, PhD

Principles & Practices for Extending Sod Shelf-Life - Funded by TLI
Roch Gaussoin, PhD
Jay McCurdy, PhD

Show & Tell - 3:30 - 5:00 pm

John Keleher, Australian Lawn Concepts
Bob McCurdy, McCurdy Farms


Aaron McWhorter, NG Turf

The turfgrass industry faces daily challenges from groups who question the its maintenance requirements, its hardiness as a playing surface, or its environmental value. Come hear how industries such as the dairy, pork or egg industries have successfully rebranded themselves in the face of perception challenges and find out what we as turfgrass producers can learn from these industries.

With over 25 years of brand name development experience, Phil Davis is one of the most quoted company naming experts globally. Phil's branding articles are frequently referenced by those researching and publishing branding related topics. He was recognized with a Price Waterhouse Up and Comer Award at the start of his career and continued by building a marketing firm that attracted a broad range of retail, medical, industrial and B2B clientele. Phil has worked regionally, nationally and internationally to build clear, compelling brand identities that convey a cohesive message. His commitment to brand clarity is the hallmark of Tungsten Branding. When not actively naming a company, Phil speaks on the subject of "brilliant branding" and best industry practices. He has served as both keynote branding speaker, as well as subject matter expert on brand development.

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