Category Archives: Conferences

TPI 2022 International Education Conference & Field Day Recap

We think we speak for our entire community when we say ­– it felt wonderful to be together! Turfgrass Producers International held its annual Education Conference and Field Day at the beautiful Loews Coronado Bay Resort and Spa in sunny California the week of February 14-17, 2022.

The TPI event was the first time our industry has been able to gather in person from all over the world since the Orlando conference in February 2020. Over 500 attendees networked for a week on the water, in the board rooms, and over tacos! We gathered from 95 farms, 38 states, and 11 countries, including South Africa, Luxembourg, Germany, Turkey, and Argentina.

The week kicked off with an electric Super Bowl game and Half-Time Show for the ages. We gathered in the lobby and on the patio for conversation and football. The weather, the food, and the company were fantastic.    

Monday on the Water

TPI took to the high seas for our yearly conference activity day. This was the perfect time to see the community we were in and reconnect with old friends. Our rather large group split into three and experienced the Pacific Ocean differently.

A group headed to La Jolla for the kayaking experience of a lifetime. We paddled out to the La Jolla caves, where we spent the day learning about the caves, the protected reserve, and the houses on the edge of the sea. We saw plenty of wildlife, including leopard sharks and sea lions.

Another group boarded a large catamaran and ventured across the San Diego Bay. We were treated to an epic airshow from the local military base while on the water. We even cheered for our brave soldiers returning to their aircraft carrier from the water. We enjoyed the chance to catch up with friends and take in the shoreline views.   

The last group spent the morning exploring the USS Midway. The historical naval museum is located at the Navy Pier and boasts an extensive collection of aircraft. After the tour, we cruised the bay to catch some rays and feel the wind in our hair. The views were breathtaking.

The Lawn Institute Casino Night

What a wonderful evening! We enjoyed a night under the stars surrounded by friends and family to benefit The Lawn Institute. With carving stations and casino games spread around the pool deck, attendees celebrated reuniting and The Lawn Institute while attempting to win some fun prizes. Of course, the kids were the real winners, making up most of our evening’s prize winners, including the $1,000 grand prize.

This evening was made possible by Trebro Manufacturing and Donkey Forklifts. Donkey provided The Lawn Institute with their latest Zero Turn Forklift to auction off at the end of the evening. We’re always proud to have raised funds for The Lawn Institute.


After an exciting start to our event, attendees were eager to learn. There were two full days of education relevant to the current trends in the industry.

We started with an informative Keynote Address from Bruce Vincent, a third-generation logger from Libby, Montana. Mr. Vincent stressed the need for industry advocacy from within the industry. He made a point to share that you must each be an advocate for your industry. This could mean reaching out to your current representatives, getting involved in local decisions, and coming together with your competition to advance the industry’s agenda.

Dr. Casey Reynold’s continued the conversation with a brief Proposed Sod Checkoff presentation and opened the floor for questions. Dr. Reynolds facilitated discussions around the proposed sod checkoff and answered many questions. We look forward to hearing the conversation continue in the industry.

Additionally, Dr. Reynolds presented the work TPI has completed in the last year in partnership with the USDA. This included adding sod as an agriculture commodity for several rulings in our favor. This meant we could make strides in transportation legislation and receive CFAP funds.

Dr. Aaron Patton and Dr. Jay McCurdy each presented an agronomic session. Dr. Patton shared information on Sod Strength in Cool Season grass. Dr. McCurdy spoke in Herbicide Resistance, specifically Poa Annua.  

Challenges in labor, specifically in the H2A realm, were a popular topic. We spent some time with Sawn Packer and Lynn Jacquez on the issue, and they opened the floor for a Q&A session that proved to be beneficial all around. We look forward to bringing more labor discussions to our members.

There was no surprise we had a packed house for our final Keynote speaker, Sarah Frey. Mrs. Frey shared her inspirational story and how her family constantly evolves their business and practices as struggles come their way. Her story struck home for many family-owned farms and those who built their organizations from the ground up. TPI Board Member and family-farm owner Diane Mischel had an on-stage, sit-down conversation with Mrs. Frey and dove more into how she handles it all. The Q&A was thought-provoking and engaging. Mrs. Frey gifted 100 lucky attendees with a copy of her book. She stuck around to sign every copy and meet with our excited members.

The show was rounded out by the ever-popular Show and Tell session for five of our new TPI Board Members. We invited our 2021 new board members to take the stage on Tuesday. First, Larry LeMay from A-G Sod Farms and Ron Schiedel from GreenHorizons Group shared their stories with our attendees. Then, they passed the baton on to the 2022 new board members on Thursday. Wade Wilber of Sod Shop, Lindy Murff of Murff Turf, and Albrecht Knigge of Rasenland Pattensener shared the stage and shared their histories with us.

The education was top-notch this year, and we’re thrilled to have brought thought-provoking sessions and conversations to our attendees and members.

TPI Field Day 2022

It is no secret our attendees love Field Day. Thanks to American Sod Farms, we provided yet another wonderful field day for our attendees and supplier members. The weather was beautiful, and the grass was perfect for harvesting demonstrations. The exhibitors were spread throughout the field with several food trucks. Attendees could try any of our five food trucks, snack on popcorn, and enjoy refreshments from our Tap Truck. This year’s Field Day is one we’ll remember for years to come.

Turfgrass Producers International Future Events

We could not have had a better experience in California. TPI is thrilled to be back in person and looks forward to the future events planned. We see you in Nashville for our Winter Conference and Detroit for the Summer Convention & Field Day in 2023!

TPI’s Growing Forward Virtual Series Sessions

You asked and we’re answering! Here’s a closer look at our sessions offered during the 2021 Growing Foward Virtual Series. Join us February 16-19 for education and networking right from the comforts of your own office.

Virtual Series Sessions

TPI Government Relations:  TPI works routinely behind the scenes on government affairs impacting sod producers everywhere and has been successful in recent favorable rulings on trucking laws, coronavirus relief, and more. Tune into this session for the latest updates on government policies impacting sod farms.

Shift Happens!  Even before the pandemic, we had entered a new era of constant and continuous change, a time Dr. Withers often refers to as a “permanent whitewater world,” a ‘new normal.’  COVID-19 served as an accelerant to even more disruption, and now many are wondering how to navigate such waters with their operations. The play on words in the title of this session is intentional, so join Bill as he helps us understand more about the human dynamic of adapting to and leading through change like we’re facing in 2021 and beyond.  A portion of our time with Dr. Withers will also include facilitated Q&A, so bring your questions.

Economic Outlook and Marketing Trends in the Green Industry:  A general economic outlook will be provided, with emphasis on relevant indicators to the green industry. The structure and composition of the industry and the major production and marketing trends will be highlighted.

XYZ: Better Understanding the Marketplace of our Youngest Generations:  This is a new era across our workplaces, and many of our operations feature a five-generation workforce or deal with five generation customers. Meanwhile, resumes are arriving from the newest additions to the workforce, Generation Z! Few workshop leaders have worked with all three generations these past two decades like Dr. Bill Withers, who, as BOTH a college professor and student advisor, continues to consult and work with organizations during this critical time in our workforce history. Join Bill as he helps you better understand nuances around the largest segment of the U.S. workforce, generations X, Y, and Z.

Weed Control, CS Grasses:  This presentation will discuss weed control in cool-season turf with a special emphasis on annual weed control during turfgrass establishment. Specifically, annual bluegrass, crabgrass, and yellow nutsedge control will be discussed. For each weed, chemical, cultural, and environmental conditions that influence weed establishment and control will be discussed. The TPI Weed, Insect, and Disease Control for Turfgrass Producers guide will be referenced during the presentation.

U.S Sod Industry Checkoff:  A U.S. Sod Checkoff program is currently under consideration for approval, voting, and implementation. This session will cover all of the details of the program, how it is being developed, what it means for the industry, frequently asked questions, and more. Please join members of the U.S sod production industry as they discuss the need and potential for a U.S. sod checkoff program as well as to learn more about the upcoming referendum.

4 Areas to Focus in Social Media Marketing:  As technologies evolve and become more accessible, turfgrass businesses can use social media to boost sales, build new partnerships, and pursue up- and down-stream integration strategies. In this virtual presentation, Dr. Ariana Torres will interview Kate Gahimer, co-founder of Senler Studio, to tell us the major areas of social media marketing. Speakers will present topics such as how to 1) develop and increase brand awareness, 2) curate content for audience engagement, 3) attract prospective clients through paid media, and 4) discover other helpful tools within digital communication.

Sod-Centric Weed Control for Warm-Season Turfgrass Production:  A “sod-centric” weed control strategy must take into account weed/turf species, harvest time, sod strength, inventory demand, treatment costs, and many other variables. Dr. McCurdy will share research-based solutions and theory to help guide decisions regarding weed control. Attendees will better understand appropriate options for herbicidal and non-herbicidal control of common weeds in warm-season turfgrass production.

TPI Annual Business Meeting:  The 2021 TPI Annual Business Meeting (ABM) will include the latest updates on TPI’s direction, initiatives, budgets and more. The 2021 ABM also includes important TPI business such as officer elections, budget approval, member news, and scholarship presentations. Please join us as we discuss 2020 and make plans for 2021 and beyond.

The Top Social Media Analytics:  As a business owner or manager, you already know that social media can add value to your business by increasing sales, engaging with current and prospective customers, and providing outstanding customer service. Yet, measuring the success of your time and money spent on social media can tricky. In this virtual presentation, Dr. Ariana Torres will talk about scheduling organic and paid social media campaigns. Through a case study, she will also talk about tracking the return of social media strategies, scheduling platforms, and developing monthly reports of the performance of social media analytics.

It isn’t too late! Check out our schedule and register today in your member portal or visit 

TPI Growing Forward Virtual Series Speakers

TPI’s 2021 Growing Forward Virtual Series is just around the corner. We’re thrilled to bring you quality education in turfgrass from the comforts of your office. This year’s slate of speakers is one of a kind. Here’s a closer look at some of our industry experts you will hear from.

TPI Virtual Series Speakers

Dr. Casey Reynolds
Dr. Casey Reynolds is the Executive Director at Turfgrass Producers International, a non-profit trade association representing the turfgrass production industry. He received his PhD from North Carolina State University in 2013 before moving to College Station Texas to join the turfgrass program faculty at Texas A&M University. He is an avid supporter of the natural grass industry and all of the many benefits it brings to urban and suburban environments worldwide.

You can hear Dr. Reynolds speak Feb 17 at 10am about TPI Government Relations Impacting the Sod Industry.

Dr. Marco A Palma
Dr. Marco A Palma is Professor in the Department of Agricultural Economics at Texas A&M University. Dr Palma is a Texas A&M Presidential Impact Fellow. His areas of interest are consumer economics, food choices, experimental and behavioral economics and neuroeconomics. Dr Palma is the Director of the Human Behavior Laboratory (, a transdisciplinary facility that integrates state of the art technology to measure biometric and neurophysiological responses of human decision making. The HBL aims to facilitate the integration of neurophysiological responses to traditional methods of studying human behavior in the social sciences. Specifically, it provides access to state-of-the-art equipment to simultaneously collect psychophysiological data, including eye tracking, facial expression analysis to assess human emotions, neural signals (electroencephalography), galvanic skin response (GSR) heart and respiration rates through integrated stimulus presentation platforms.

You can hear Dr. Palma speak Feb 17 at 1pm about Housing and Economy.

Dr. Jay McCurdy
Dr. Jay McCurdy is an Associate Professor and Extension Specialist at Mississippi State University. He received a B.S. from the University of Tennessee-Martin, a M.S. from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, and a Ph.D. from Auburn University. He has worked as a golf course superintendent, sod farmer, and private consultant. His research interests include turfgrass weed ecology and management, herbicide resistance, pesticide fate, and wildlife habitat inclusion within urban environments. He teaches and advises students studying Weed Science and Turfgrass Management. He has authored 25+ peer-reviewed publications as well as numerous trade and Extension articles. He serves as editor for the Mississippi Turfgrass Magazine and as Associate Editor of several society Journals. In cooperation with state and regional colleagues, he has developed new and novel teaching and outreach programs, including the Deep South Turfgrass Expo and the MSU-Extension Sustainable Home Lawn Management Program.

You can hear Dr. McCurdy speak Feb 18 at 11am about Weed Control for Warm Season Grasses.

Dr. Matt Elmore
Dr. Matt Elmore is as an Assistant Extension Specialist in Weed Science at Rutgers University. His program at Rutgers focuses on novel strategies to control weeds with fewer pesticide inputs. Prior to joining Rutgers, Matt was a Turfgrass Extension Specialist for Texas A&M AgriLife in Dallas, TX and earned his MS and Ph.D. from the University of Tennessee.

You can hear Dr. Elmore speak Feb 17 at 1pm about Weed Control for Cold Season Grasses.

Dr. Ariana Torres
Dr. Torres’ research focuses on the decision-making processes of specialty crop farmers, along with the use of digital marketing technologies among industry stakeholders. Her expertise includes the economic modeling of adoption of new technologies, the development of decision-making tools for specialty crop growers, and the economic impact of growers decision-making processes. Her research provides relevant research-based information to her extension program, Horticulture Business ( to provide trainings and publications to farmers, business owners, Extension personnel, and policymakers.

You can hear Dr. Torres speak Feb 18 & 19 at 11am about Social Media.

Dr. Bill Withers
Dr. Bill Withers has nearly three decades of management and leadership experience in both business and education, and he is a two-time presenter at the International Conference on Business in Honolulu. [Which is where he fell in love with his “Aloha shirts” he sometimes wears!]

Bill has both studied and served organizations such as Proctor & Gamble, Ritz-Carlton, Disney, Four Seasons, Starbucks, and Southwest Airlines, and he was a contributing writer to three books in the areas of leadership and customer service.

After an early career working in media and marketing, Bill spent 20 years in higher education, training, and development at Wartburg College where he was recently awarded Faculty Emeritus-status by their board upon his recent retirement there.

Today Bill serves on the executive leadership team at Lutheran Church of Hope in West Des Moines, Iowa, the largest mainline protestant church of its type in all of North America.

Dr. Withers continues to specialize in the areas of public relations, customer service, organizational change, and leadership.

You can hear Dr Withers speak Feb 17 at 11am & 1pm.

Register Now

Register for TPI’s Growing Forward Virtual Series today to hear these great speakers. You’ll also have that chance to attend discussion groups and bid on some spectacular items in our online TLI Auction. Don’t forget to stay with us on February 16th and 18th to meet with our sponsors during our virtual field day. You can register here!

TPI 2021 Conference Plans for Covid-19 Impacts

The TPI staff and board of directors are currently working to address the potential impacts of Covid-19 on TPI’s 2021 International Education Conference and Field Day just outside of Austin, TX from February 22-25, 2021. We have been in contact with the Hyatt Lost Pines, TPI’s host hotel in Lost Pines, Texas, to develop plans for various scenarios around Covid-19. The current travel restrictions, social distancing guidelines, limits on large gatherings, etc. are impacting meetings all over the world and TPI’s is no different.

We’d love to hear from our members on how they feel about attending the TPI 2021 International Education Conference and Field Day next winter. We know a lot can change between now and then, but ask that you please take a moment to fill out the brief 2 question survey below so we can plan accordingly. As always, please feel free to call the TPI office with questions or comments.

TPI 2020 International Conference Recap

2020 TPI Field Day

TPI’s 2020 International Education Conference & Field Day attracted more than 800 people who enjoyed a whirlwind week on February 17th – 20th in Orlando, Florida. Attendees spent a week together learning, networking, catching up with old friends, and meeting new ones.  Attendees came from 36 states and 11 countries including South Africa, Norway, Iraq, Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, and even Japan to take part in the vigor and excitement of this event.

Monday Funday

The week kicked off Monday morning with over 100 participants at the Rootin’ Tootin’ Clay Shootin’ event to benefit The Lawn Institute (TLI). Attendees compete against each other and tested their shooting skills by taking aim at clay targets on a scenic swampy course. After a group breakfast, the teams took to the course and competed for the title. Congrats to all of the winners!

Meanwhile, several attendees and their families made their way on the Wild Florida tour!

A visit to the Florida Everglades proved to be the wildest adventure in Central Florida. Our group enjoyed a close look at alligators & exotic wildlife as they glided through 4,200 acres of untouched nature preserve on an exclusive airboat ride. They also had the opportunity to stroll through the Gator and Wildlife Park to see lemurs, sloths, zebras, and other animals native to South America, Africa, and Australia.

Upon return to the hotel and after a bit of rest, our attendees attended several activities across the resort including lounging in cabanas by the pool, our first-ever Women in Turfgrass reception and our First Timer’s reception. Monday evening, TPI president Hank Kerfoot opened the conference on to a packed house at the Opening Reception at the Hilton Orlando Bueno Vista Palace. Here attendees got a chance to network and relax before conference education the next morning.


Karl Mecklenburg, former Denver Bronco, kicked off education with an inspirational speech to TPI members during the General Session and morning breakfast. Attendees enjoyed two full education days focused on improving office processes, communication, best sod farming practices, the latest on regulations, Keeping it Real, and so much more.

TPI Executive Director Casey Reynolds hosted the TPI Annual Business Meeting at Tuesday’s lunch where he presented information on TPI and TLI budgets, TLI scholarships, current, and new initiatives, and more.


Exhibit Hall and Field Day

The Exhibit Hall opened Tuesday with an eager crowd ready to visit with over 50 exhibitors lining the hall. Vendors were able to share information about their products with the attendees during dinner and in the reception afterward. Then we headed down the hall into the massive dessert reception complete with Disney Characters!

Wednesday morning attendees headed to a field day at nearby H&H Sod Farm. With beautiful weather and over 20 exhibitors, attendees were excited to learn about new products and technologies while enjoying lunch with over 800 of their closest friends.

ETP Farm Tours in Oslo, Norway from September 12-13 2019

By ETP office

On 12-13th September ETP organized its 3rd ETP Farm Tour in Oslo, Norway, with past 2 Farm Tour held in UK (2015) and Italy (2016). Taking advantage of a mild end of summer weather, 96 sod farmers and industry delegates from 20 European (and non-European) countries joined this event, which was a first of its kind for Norway.

The perfect organisation of this Farm Tour was the work of Johnny Trandem, a former Board member of ETP, and his Family and Company Østfold Gress AS.

In an intense 2-day program, the participants saw and learned how turf is grown in Norway. There was also time to interact and network with each other, and enjoy the atmosphere of stunningly beautiful Norway.

The centre of the event was the Hotel Ullevaal Panorama, in Oslo (NO), next to the Ullevaal Stadion, home ground of the Norway national football team, and the site of the Norwegian Cup Final. As participants gathered and registered for the event, they could enjoy a welcome drink & food in the Stadium’s meeting room. A first opportunity to catch up and network with friends and colleagues.

The welcome was followed by the ETP General Assembly (where balance 2018 and budget 2019 were approved) and by the seminar session, with presentations from the invited Speakers Martin Bocksch (Deutscher Rollrasen Verband e.V.), Filippo Lulli (Turf Europe Srl), Morten Eirik Engelsjord (Floratine Norge) and John Riiber (Head Greenkeeper of the Oslo Golf Club).

Albrecht Knigge, ETP President, also announced the 2020 Turf Expo, which will be held on September 10th – 11th 2020 at Pattensen, Germany.

After the visit of the Stadium pitch, the participants enjoyed a pleasant dinner and evening all together.

The next day was dedicated to the technical visits of the ETP Farm Tour. The first stop was at the sod farm Bærum Ferdigplen, a company with more than 20 years of experience that supply sod throughout southern Norway. Second stop was at the Oslo Golf Club, the oldest in Norway with a kind and complete report talk of the Greenkeeper. Before the last visit, the delegates stopped and had lunch at the Holmenkollen area, the world’s biggest ski arena, were they could go on top and looked around the whole Oslo area with a nice September weather.

ETP Sponsors Barenbrug, Campey, DLF, TPI and Vanmac offered a 5 minutes presentation to the delegates in the Østfold Gress’s hangar, elegantly organized to host the participants.

The Farm Tour was closed by an exquisite welcome and a pleasant outdoor visit in the Østfold Gress facilities, after which the participants were left to chill out and relax in Johnny’s wonderful farmyard, with drinks and coffee while caterers were preparing for the evening’s barbecue dinner.

ETP wishes to thank everyone who attended the Farm Tour and the local organizers (Johnny Trandem and his Family and Company Østfold Gress AS) for making this a most entertaining and informative event. We hope to see you in September 2020 for ETP’s 3rd Turf Show in Germany.

See you then !!

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. 



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. 


TLI Valentine’s Day Dessert Reception Raises $123,000

Many attendees flocked to the TLI reception on Wednesday night to enjoy some after-dinner Valentine desserts with friends and family while raising money for TLI’s research, scholarship, education, and PR initiatives. A variety of items were auctioned off to benefit TLI including an Osceola turkey hunt in Florida, a Texas hog hunt, a Brouwer Turf Roller, a gourmet Dinner for 8, a NASCAR driving package, a homemade quilt, a TPI 2019 conference registration and lodging package, and more!   

The evening ended with the auctioning of a Trebro Autostack II harvester, courtesy of Trebro Turf Equipment which went to Anthony and Sonia Heilig of A&S Heilig t/a Go Turf in Beerburrum Queensland Australia!

TPI 2018 draws over 700 people to Tucson, Arizona

TPI’s 2018 International Education Conference & Field Day attracted more than 700 people who enjoyed a whirlwind week of learning, networking, catching up with old friends, and meeting new ones from February 12th – 15th in Tucson, Arizona. Attendees came from 41 states and 16 countries and traveled from as far away as South Africa, Australia, Canada, Europe, and even Japan to take part in the energy and enthusiasm of this event.  

The week started on Monday morning with almost 100 participants at the Rootin’ Tootin’ Clay Shootin’ event to benefit The Lawn Institute (TLI). Attendees sharpened their shooting skills by taking aim at clay targets on a scenic desert course at the Tucson Trap and Skeet Club and Southwest Regional Training Center for the US Olympic Shooting Team.

After a group breakfast, it was off to the ranges where teams competed for the title where clay targets were thrown from various places over many stations on the course. After it was all over, the top three teams included TPI members from 1st place) Texas, 2nd place) Australia, and 3rd place) Canada! Congrats to all of the winners.

Another busload of attendees visited the University of Arizona’s Biosphere 2. Biosphere 2 is one of the world’s most unique facilities dedicated to the research and understanding of global scientific issues.  

It serves as a laboratory for controlled studies and has as it’s mission to serve as a center for research, outreach, teaching, and life-long learning about Earth and it’s living systems. TPI attendees got a chance to see this unique world-class scientific facility first-hand!

Later that evening, TPI president Jimmy Fox opened the conference on to a packed house at the Opening Reception on the Foyer of the Westin La Paloma. Here attendees got a chance to relax on the outdoor patio overlooking the scenic Catalina mountains of Tucson, AZ.

Ty Bennet, founder of Leadership, Inc. speaks to TPI members during the General Session

The 2018 Education Conference presented attendees with many options to solve their biggest business challenges. Monday’s pre-conference seminar featured Lynda Pinnington, PhD, of Pinnington Training & Development, in a class entitled Meeting the Challenges of Leadership in Today’s Workplace. Tuesday’s education slate kicked off with Ty Bennett of Leadership Inc. talking about investing in people with his talk, Partnership is  the New Leadership.  The rest of the day’s topics included research comparisons of natural versus synthetic surfaces, communicating the value of a natural turf surface, information about drought- and cold-resistant cultivars, and site-specific turf management tools. Featured speakers included Jack Fry, PhD, Kansas State University; Gerald Henry, PhD, University of Georgia; and John Sorochan, PhD, University of Tennessee. 

Kevin Cross started Thursday’s education program with his story of fraud, redemption, and workplace ethics. The breakout sessions covered new and emerging technologies for turf management, novel techniques for seeding grass in a soybean field, ways to manage personal stress, and information about salt and sodium. Thursday’s speakers included Lisa Goatley, LPC, Blacksburg, Virginia; Doug Karcher, PhD, University of Arkansas; Dave Kopec, PhD, University of Arizona; Ed Lee, Summit Seed; and Mike Wagner, M&M Turf.

TPI President Jimmy Fox presents during Annual Business Meeting

 TPI Officers and Staff led the 2018 TPI Annual Business Meeting where they presented information on TPI and TLI budgets, TLI scholarships, current and new initiatives, and more. The TPI Board of Trustees also presented two new by-law amendments to the membership in attendance regarding changing the current TPI membership and fiscal years to align with the calendar year, as well as other TPI procedures. These amendments were formally put on the table, discussed, and approved by the TPI membership and will become effective January 1st of 2019. 

TPI Executive Director Casey Reynolds, PhD spoke about TPI’s current and future endeavors in attending and speaking at turfgrass events throughout the world, involvement in regulatory affairs, developing new benefits for TPI members, new supplier categories, and a new TLI website that will be launching soon. 

He also provided updates on a new public relations initiative that will be launched in 2018 and will include consumer and market research on turfgrass as well as new TPI resources that will allow members to promote natural turfgrasses and their use. “We’re excited about getting this underway and promoting the use of natural turfgrasses while also putting more resources in the hands of TPI members”, says Casey Reynolds, PhD.

Exhibit Hall and Field Day

The Exhibit Hall opened on Tuesday with a tremendous crowd ready to visit with the 52 exhibitors lining the hall. The energy was high in the action-packed aisles for more than two hours as vendors were able to share information about their products with the attendees. Then it was off to field day at nearby Evergreen Turf in Eloy, Arizona where the rain held off as crowds flocked to visit 31 exhibitors and learn about new products and technologies while enjoying a beautiful mountain view!

R&R Products Tour

TPI Attendees were treated to a real surprise Tuesday with a field trip and lunch tour of R&R Products, a leading manufacturer of replacement parts for the commercial golf and turf industry. With over 275 employees, this family-owned and operated corporation manufacturers over 25,000 parts and TPI attendees got a chance to see many of them being made while touring the 300,000+ square feet manufacturing facility in Tucson, AZ.     

Their sales philosophy has always been to offer a top quality product at an attractive price and have them in stock at all times for immediate delivery. The Rogers family says, “All R&R reels, bedknives, and tines are  guaranteed against defects for the life of the product and R&R ships 98% of all orders the same day.”

This was definitely one of the most unique parts of TPI 2018 in Tucson. It’s not every day you get a chance to tour a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility. Not only did TPI members get to see where much of their turfgrass replacement parts were made, but they also got treated to a lunch with local flavor and custom R&R Products Keychains!

TPI travels to Georgia, Mississippi, SC, and Texas

TPI continues it’s outreach with new staff members Casey Reynolds, PhD and Karen Cooper.  Fresh off from trips to Tennessee, Wisconsin, and Holland, it was time in November and December to visit the deep south with trips to Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Texas. The 2017 Georgia Urban Ag Council’s Sod & Turfgrass Producers Field Day was held in Perry, GA from Oct 31st – Nov. 1st and included educational sessions along with a field day on a bright, sunny, and windy day at TPI Member Super-Sod’s farm in Fort Valley, GA. Vendors from all over came to exhibit new products, services, and of course to demonstrate the latest equipment.

Some of these vendors then packed up their bags and headed further south for a week at the Deep South Turf Expo in Biloxi, MS. Casey Reynolds was there on behalf of TPI at the Deep South Turf Expo Trade Show, but also was an invited speaker during the educational sessions. His topics include Interpreting Pesticide Labels, Shade & Implications for Turfgrass Health, and Current & Future Issues Affecting  Turfgrass Production. For more information on Shade & Implications for Turfgrass Health check out the January/February issue of Turf News! 

In addition to the Deep South Turf Expo, TPI also had trade show booths at the 2017 Carolinas Golf Course Superintendents Conference & Trade Show from November 13-15 in Myrtle Beach, SC and at the Texas Turfgrass Association Conference & Show from December 5 – 7th in Arlington, TX. While at the Carolinas GCSA conference, Casey Reynolds and TPI Secretary/Treasurer Hank Kerfoot of Modern Turf were able to visit with turfgrass producers from South Carolina during the SC Sod Producers Association business meeting, held at the same convention center. Hank and Casey shared new and ongoing information relative to TPI initiatives, memberships, and the upcoming 2018 TPI International Education Conference & Field Day in Tucson, AZ. Dr. Bert McCarty was also in attendance to discuss updates on Clemson University’s turfgrass program and the ongoing problem of herbicide resistance weeds. TPI would like to extend a special thanks to the SC Sod Producers Association for hosting us and letting us be a part of their event.  

Karen Cooper was able to attend the 2017 Texas Turfgrass Association (TTA) where she was able to connect with TPI supplier and producer members in Texas. This was a special year for the Texas Turfgrass Association as they honored 70 years of Past Presidents as well as their long time Executive Director Shirley Duble. 

TPI member Thomas Turfgrass’s Emory Thomas is on the Board of Directors for the Texas Turfgrass Association and TPI Executive Director Casey Reynolds is a past advisor to TTA.