Author Archives: Casey Reynolds, PhD

About Casey Reynolds, PhD

Dr. Casey Reynolds is the Executive Director at Turfgrass Producers International

Agricultural Trucking Relief Act Introduced into Congress

Article written by Rachel LedBetter, Rachel.ledbetter@mail.house.gov

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Austin Scott (R-GA-08), a senior member of the House Agriculture Committee, released the following statement upon reintroducing the bipartisan Agricultural Trucking Relief Act (H.R. 1673). H.R. 1673 would provide clarity for the definition of “agricultural commodity” as it relates to transportation policy and compliance with new Electronic Logging Device (ELD) and the Hours of Service (HOS) rules and regulations.

“Transportation carriers are vital to the movement of goods and services from coast to coast and everywhere in between, and our farmers depend on them to ensure that we are able to feed and clothe not only our country, but the world,” said Rep. Scott. “H.R. 1673 would more clearly define ‘agricultural commodities’ as applied to transportation laws, extending regulatory relief for all farm commodities including aquaculture, floriculture, and horticulture.”

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is the main agency responsible for administering agricultural trucking laws, including new ELD and HOS rules and regulations. Currently, the “agriculture commodities” definition does not apply to all agricultural products, making it difficult for those that transport these commodities to comply with regulations.

H.R. 1673 would create a clearer “agricultural commodity” definition for FMCSA to use when implementing and enforcing ELD and HOS. Currently, horticultural products have been recognized by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USAD), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and numerous other federal and state agencies as an agricultural commodity. However, horticultural and aquaculture products such as nurseries, sod, turfgrass, and freshwater and saltwater aquatic plants, algae, and other organisms are not currently included in the “agriculture commodity” definition used by the FMCSA. H.R. 1673 would ensure that agricultural, aquacultural, horticultural, and floricultural commodities are clearly defined as “agriculture commodities” for use under the FMCSA.

Joining Rep. Scott as original co-sponsors of the bill include U.S Representatives Neal Dunn (R-FL-02), Al Lawson (D-FL-05), and Kurt Schrader (D-OR-05).

H.R. 1673 is supported by the American Farm Bureau Federation, AmericanHort, and the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture.

TPI 2019 International Education Conference Recap

TPI’s 2019 International Education Conference roared into Charlotte, North Carolina February 18-20 when more than 450 TPI members from nine countries and 36 states came together for an exciting week of learning, networking, and meeting new friends. 

The event started early on Monday as more than 150 people traveled to Charlotte Motor Speedway, Hendricks Motor Sports, Bank of America Stadium (home of the NFL’s Carolina Panthers), and BB&T Ballpark (home of the Triple A Charlotte Knights). A special highlight of the day was when attendees were rode in vans around the track at Charlotte Motor Speedway at speeds exceeding 80mph. Attendees learned about the myriad events held at the Speedway over the course of the year, ranging from stock car races to drag races to STEM classes for middle school students. At Hendricks, the group saw a number of  track-driven cars from the various Hendricks drivers as well as some of the shop areas. A frequent comment from the large number of TPI members watching the shop area how the large, well-lit, climate-controlled area looked like a dream!  The stadium and ballpark tours were full of insider information about game day preparations and field maintenance for  high traffic areas!

Later that evening, TPI president Eric Heuver welcomed a full house to the President’s Reception in the Providence Ballroom. The energy in the room was deafening and set an exciting tone for the week as the crowd spilled into ballroom lobby areas into the evening. 

 

Education

The 2019 Education Conference kicked off with a theme of change as keynote speaker Shawn Rhodes of Shosin Consulting opened the conference with his talk entitled Creating A Pivot Point: Leveraging Change Without Sacrificing Results. This session was followed by breakout sessions focusing a number of business and agronomic topics including technology on the farm, sod shelf life, TPI’s new PR initiative (#keepitreal), natural grass water needs, lessons learned in the industry, managing change, and turfgrass marketing and pricing information. Speakers included TPI’s Executive Director Dr. Casey Reynolds; a member panel of Tom Diveley (Harmony Outdoor Brands), Laurie Griffen (Saratoga Sod Farm, Inc.), and Ryan Menken (Jasperson Sod Farm); a second member panel of Bobby Winstead (Winstead Turf Farms), Fred Pittillo (Turf Mountain Sod), Merett Alexander (NG Turf), and Joe Wilkins (Green Valley Turf Co.); as well as several university researchers, including Ben Campbell, PhD (University of Georgia); Doug Karcher, PhD (University of Arkansas), John Stier, PhD (University of Tennessee), Jay McCurdy, PhD (Mississippi State University); and Roch Gaussoin, PhD (University of Nebraska).  

Phil Davis, the founder and president of Tungsten Branding kicked off Wednesday’s education slate with his talk about branding entitled The Grass Is Always Greener… Until It Isn’t: The Changing Perceptions of Public Opinion. The day’s breakout sessions included topics such as innovative farm management (Diane and Greg Mischel of DeBucks Sod Farm, Inc.); plant and soil interactions (Adam Thoms, PhD, and Nick Christians, PhD, Iowa State University); as well as updates on TPI’s government relations initiatives from Dr. Casey Reynolds; and repeats of some of Tuesday’s sessions.

Annual Business Meeting 

TPI Officers and Staff led the 2019 TPI Annual Business Meeting where they presented information on TPI and TLI budgets, TLI scholarships, current and new initiatives, and more. TPI Executive Director Casey Reynolds, PhD spoke about TPI’s current and future endeavors in attending and speaking at turfgrass events throughout the world, TPI’s involvement in regulatory affairs, developing new benefits for TPI members, new supplier categories, and a new TPI website that will be launching in 2019.

TPI Vice-President Hank Kerfoot presented two Dr. Henry W. Indyk Scholarships to deserving recipients Sara Lechlider and Krysta Bouchard. He also provided updates on a new public relations initiative that was launched in 2019 and will include consumer and market research on natural grass as well as new TPI resources that will allow members to promote their use. “We’re excited about getting this underway and promoting the use of natural grasses while also putting more resources in the hands of TPI members”, says Casey Reynolds, PhD.

Inspirational Breakfast

TPI Past President Bob Weerts was the featured speaker at Wednesday’s Inspirational Breakfast as he shared his intensely moving story of faith and loss and how TPI members form a family for all of us. The morning allowed all in attendance to reflect upon their own blessings with a reminder from Bob to not take anyone for granted and to let people in your life know how much you love and appreciate them.

Exhibit Hall

The Exhibit Hall opened with a tremendous crowd ready to visit with the 59 exhibitors and event sponsors lining the hall. The energy was high in the action-packed aisles for more than two hours on Tuesday evening and again on Wednesday afternoon as vendors were able to share information about their products with the attendees. TPI is fortunate to have so many supportive vendors and sponsors that make our events possible!  

Show and Tell

New board members John Keleher (Australian Lawn Concepts), Bob McCurdy (McCurdy Sod Farms), and Aaron McWhorter (NG Turf) wrapped up the conference in Charlotte by sharing their farms with members at the always-popular Show and Tell Sessions. These sessions are always popular for attendees because it provides an opportunity to hear about the successes of other operations, as well as the challenges and the solutions to them. Thanks to John, Bob, and Aaron for sharing their stories. 

 

STMA Announces 2019 Board of Directors

The STMA held it’s annual Conference and Exhibition in Phoenix, AZ last week where it announced its 2019 Board of Directors. The STMA board consists of 13-members, including five officers on the Executive Board. These new representatives officially took office on January 24th at the Annual Meeting.

Elected to the Presidency is Jody Gill, CSFM, from Blue Valley School District in Overland Park, KS. Ascending to Immediate Past President is Sarah Martin, CSFM, City of Phoenix Parks and Rec. Jimmy Simpson, CSFM, Town of Cary, NC fills the President-Elect office and Secretary/Treasurer is Nick McKenna, CSFM, Texas A&M Athletics, College Station, TX. Serving a second term as the Commercial Vice President is Boyd Montgomery, CSFM, CSE, The Toro Company, Minneapolis.

The STMA Bylaws require that the Board have Directors from each segment of its voting members. Directors elected include:

Stephen Lord, CSFM, Cincinnati Reds, representing facilities used by Professional Athletes

Jeremy Bohonko, Ewing, N. Charlotte, NC, Commercial Director

Clark Cox, CSFM, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC, At Large Elected Director.

Returning for their second year of a 2-year term are Director for Parks and Rec James Bergdoll, CSFM, City of Chattanooga (TN) Public Works, and Jason Kruse, PhD, Academic Director, University of Florida, Gainesville. Three open positions were filled by appointment of the President. Gill appointed Sun Roesslein, CSFM, North Area Athletic Complex, Golden, CO to the Appointed At-Large Director. Roesslein served on the Board in 2017 and 2018 as K-12 Director. He also appointed Joshua Koss, CSFM, University of San Diego, as the Director for Higher Education, and Jeremy Driscoll, St. Mark’s High School, Wilmington, DE representing K-12.

The Board’s official first meeting will be March 22-23. For a link to STMA’s board of directors click on the link below:

TPI Launches #KeepItREAL to promote Natural Grass

Be on the lookout for our KeepItReal hashtag on Social Media and new SWAG that TPI be handing out at field days and shows. TPI is encouraging people to Keep It Real with natural grass in 2019 and beyond! TPI Members can download all of our KeepItREALl graphics for their own use in printing, social media, and more. Stickers, koozies, and other SWAG will also be available for download and/or purchase in the membership portal of TPI’s new website to be launched this summer. Stay tuned and be sure to help promote natural grass locally by encouraging members in your community to KeepItREAL!

TPI addressing new regulations affecting U.S. Sod Haulers

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) have rolled out a new mandate on Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) for U.S commercial trucking operators.  Dr. Casey. Reynolds, TPI’s Executive Director has presented this information to turfgrass producers in North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, New Jersey, Michigan, Texas, and will be traveling to Minnesota in late-March. As with any new federal trucking law, enforcement questions have arisen at the state level which is one of the reasons the DOT is phasing this new rule in on a 3-year implementation timeline. TPI met with FMCSA official in Washington, D.C. last fall to discuss how this new mandate impacts sod haulers. 

This information was presented in the January/February issue of Turf News to keep TPI members up-to-date on the latest information. If you have questions about how this new ELD mandate impacts sod haulers in your state, please contact Dr. Casey Reynolds at creynolds@TurfgrassSod.org and TPI will be happy to work with you on this issue.

TPI visits members in Tennessee, Minnesota, and Portugal

TPI staff members Karen Cooper and Casey Reynolds, PhD continue to visit with current and potential TPI members at local and regional events. On Sept 11th, 2018 Karen Cooper visited McCurdy Sod Farms for the MidSouth Turfgrass Council Field Day hosted by incoming TPI Board Member Bob McCurdy. This event was an opportunity for local and regional growers to hear discussions on a variety of farm-based research trials where Mr. McCurdy and his staff are experimenting with various products in sod production. It also allowed growers to get hands-on with sod production and interact with their peers while making new connections and re-affirming old ones. The TPI staff and board of directors also visited Willard Wagner at Wagner Sod Farms in Minnesota as part of the 2018 TPI Fall Board meeting and preview of the 2018 TPI Summer Convention and Field Days!

TPI Executive Director Casey Reynolds spoke at the European Turfgrass Producers 2018 Turf Expo in Troia, Comporta, Portugal from October 24th to 26th where ETP members gathered for a trade show, education sessions, and field day. The event began with a golf tournament the morning of October 24th at Troia Golf before lunch and the ETP General Assembly. This was followed by educational seminars from a variety of international speakers covering a wide range of topics on turfgrass management, new technologies, the environment, planting techniques, irrigation, construction, sustainability, and more.

After 2 days of indoor trade shows and seminars, ETP traveled briefly south to Novogreen Sod Farm in Comporta, Portugal to check out the latest in equipment, seed, and more. One of the interesting parts of international organizations like TPI and ETP is getting to visit and build relationships with seed and sod producers as well as industry partners from around the world. Several TPI members from the United States were also there to participate, as well as speak in seminars. Special thanks to ETP for inviting TPI and hosting a great event!

Swampy Brown Map sums up September in the Eastern US

Original article published by Angel Fritz, October 2, 2018

If you’re in the eastern United States you won’t be shocked by this article summarizing weather during the month of September. The seemingly never-ending patter of hot, humid days and nights have wreaked havoc on cool-season grasses. For the original article from the Washington Post click the link below.

TPI on program at Third Annual NCSU Turfgrass Research Symposium

Live Streaming

The symposium will be streamed live online for those unable to attend in person. To attend the symposium via streaming, you will need to register online at reporter.ncsu.edu. Please notice that the link for live streaming will be sent out Wednesday, December 5th at 5:00pm EST. You must be registered by Tuesday, December 4th in order to receive the link.

Parents push for warning on playgrounds, synthetic turf in heat

Original article published by Evan Lambert, Fox 5 DC

Worried about your child’s health on synthetic turf in hot weather? You’re not the only one! News channel Fox 5 in Washington, D.C. published an article below highlighting parents concerns on D.C. playgrounds where daytime temperatures on these plastic surfaces reached between 140 and 160 degrees Fahrenheit. For more information and the original article, click the link below.

TPI Staff are on the Road!

July and August were exciting months for TPI staff as they traveled to sod producer events in Wisconsin, Ohio, and Canada to visit with turfgrass producers, promote the industry, and discuss future TPI plans and initiatives. Karen Cooper, traveled to Franksville, Wisconsin for the Wisconsin Sod Producers Association (WSPA) Field day, on Thursday, July 19, at Jasperson Sod Farm where there were approximately 135 individuals from farms in  Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, and Ohio, as well as vendors/representatives from about 20 different companies. Mr. Randy Jasperson, of the TPI Board of Trustees, was instrumental in organizing this event, which included many equipment demonstrations as well as open networking time and a pig-roast lunch. The event also served as a fundraiser for The Lawn Institute (TLI) as vendors and growers combined together to donate $4,400 to TLI. 

TPI Executive Director Dr. Casey Reynolds was in Galloway, Ohio on August 15th for the Ohio Sod Producers Association (OSPA) Field Day and in Edmonton, Alberta from August 21st to 24th to speak at the Alberta Sportsturf Management Field Day. Turfgrass producers from Ohio and surrounding states gathered for lunch, demos, and static exhibits at Wilson’s Turf Farm. This was a great opportunity to interact with TPI producer and supplier members as well as time to discuss new ways to collaborate. A special thanks to Mike Ward of EastGate Sod and Nancy Giles of Ward+Thornton Landscapes for organizing this event.

TPI in Canada

Eric Heuver, TPI Vice-President, hosted Dr. Reynolds with a tour of his sod farm, Olds College Turfgrass Research Program, and other facilities as well as introduced him to several local producers and TPI members. Mr. Heuver also organized a meeting of Canadian turfgrass producers in Edmonton where they enjoyed dinner, social time, and a presentation session to discuss the direction of TPI as it works to serves its members.   

TPI plans to attend events in Maryland, North Carolina, and Tennessee in the coming months and we hope to see you there! If your state or regional association planning an upcoming field day, please contact TPI Associate Executive Director Karen Cooper at kcooper@TurfGrassSod.org to find out how TPI can help.

TPI Vice-President Eric Heuver Speaking at Canadian Sod Growers event in Edmonton