College of Agriculture & Natural Resources
Institute of Applied Agriculture

IAA Turfgrass Club Provides Enhanced Learning Opportunities for Students

Author: 
Geoffrey Rinehart, Turfgrass Management Lecturer and Advisor
UMD Turf Club at M&T Bank Stadium, home of the Baltimore Ravens.
UMD Turf Club on the field at M&T Bank Stadium, home of the Baltimore Ravens.

Extracurricular opportunities are an important aspect to the college experience and can provide benefits to students as they build camaraderie among their peers, participate in field trips that might not necessarily fit into designated class time, and attend turfgrass conferences and meetings which introduce them to professional development aspects of the career they will be entering once they graduate.

Many of the turfgrass students at the IAA are involved with our GCSAA Student Chapter (“Turf Club”). While the largest proportion of student participants are enrolled in the Golf Course Management  concentration, there are also students who are pursuing a General Turfgrass, Sports Turf, Landscaping, or Horticulture focus within the IAA. As faculty advisor for all of our turfgrass students, my goal this year with our Turf Club has been to encourage and support the camaraderie among turfgrass and landscape students (which tends to happen within the IAA naturally), prepare the collegiate Turf Bowl participants for their winter competitions, seek opportunities for students to visit noteworthy turfgrass facilities, and engage students with the preparation for the annual Shields Memorial Golf Tournament scheduled for Friday, May 11.

In addition to Turf Bowl practices starting in October and continuing through to the Turf Bowl competition at the Golf Industry Show in early February, Turf Club students had the opportunity to visit three prominent facilities during the fall semester. On November 6, we visited M&T Bank Stadium during the sod stripping process as they prepared to install new Bermudagrass sod on a substantial part of the field. This opportunity allowed the students to see the process in action, enjoy short presentations by M&T Sports Field Manager Don Follett and Carolina Green President Chad Price, and walk the field while learning about the stadium’s under-field heating system.

On November 16 we visited the Maryland SoccerPlex in conjunction with Dr. Turner’s Sports Field Management class, and met with Fields Director Ryan Bjorn. He showed us his variety of cultivation equipment and the ‘Grass Roots’ public education turfgrass exhibit on-site, and we walked the stadium field. On November 21, and again in conjunction with the sports field class, students visited Nationals Park to see the in-process field renovation on a tour guided by Field Manager John Turnour. These visits provided valuable and unique learning experiences and a great opportunity to reinforce and augment the concepts students learn in the classroom and lab.

UMD Turf Club visits Nationals Park.

^Members of the Turf Club with Field Manager John Turnour at Nationals Park.

Next year, I would like to expand the involvement and impact of the Turf Club. While we do have a couple of four-year Turfgrass Management students involved, I would like to make a more concerted effort to reach out to the four-year students to encourage them to participate in the group. In addition, I would like to engage the students to develop a community service project or assist with some of the IAA’s outreach efforts by being available to speak with prospective students at orientations or assisting with turf education-oriented 4-H “field events” on campus.

I am very appreciative of the encouragement our local turfgrass industry offers to our students. Thank you for your support of the IAA turfgrass program!

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