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!