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.

Education

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!

About the Author

Leave a Reply