Alabama Turf Times – Melanie Bonds, Executive Director, Alabama Turfgrass Association
The Deep South Turf Expo claims “Braggin Rights” about our Keynote Speakers this year. In addition to an outstanding line-up of education for the conference, we will present three keynote speakers. Two are stalwarts in the industry and one a young man who wants to “make a difference, one yard at a time.” We are indebted to BASF for sponsoring our speakers this year.
Dr. Bruce Clarke of Rutgers, Center for Turfgrass Science and an Extension Specialist in Turfgrass Pathology at Rutgers, is an icon in the industry. His research has focused on the identification and control of biotic and abiotic diseases of cool-season turfgrasses. This has involved the use of field studies to assess pathogen dynamics, as well as controlled environment and greenhouse studies to ascertain the relationship between environmental stress, cultural management, and disease development. He has also conducted research on disease forecasting and detection systems, and the identification of disease resistance in turfgrass germplasm.
Dr. Clarke says, “The principal goal of my outreach program has been the development of best management practices for the control of turfgrass diseases such as anthracnose, dollar spot, gray leaf spot, and patch diseases caused by root- and crown-infecting fungi. My research findings have been utilized by turf managers in North America, Europe and Australia-Asia to improve disease control and turfgrass quality, while reducing chemical inputs through the use of improved disease management strategies. As Director of the Rutgers Center for Turfgrass Science, I am also responsible for providing leadership to foster internationally recognized research, undergraduate, graduate and continuing professional education, and outreach programs in support of the turfgrass industry.”
A native of Cresskill, New Jersey, Clarke earned his undergraduate degree in forest management and his Ph.D. in plant pathology from Rutgers. In 1982, Clarke joined the faculty as an assistant extension specialist in the plant pathology department. He was named director of the Center for Turfgrass Research in 1994, after one year as interim director. Under Clarke’s guidance, the Rutgers program has become a center of scientific and educational excellence.
“Dr. Clarke has that uncanny ability to relate to and connect with whomever he meets,” said James A. Murphy, Rutgers University extension specialist in turfgrass management. “His communication skills are outstanding in all situations: one-on-one, small groups or large audiences. He can communicate with persons of any background, and he is just as effective listening as he is speaking.” (Photo 1)
On the podium with Dr. Clarke is Dr. Beth Guertal. Dr. Guertal is professor of turfgrass and nutrient management in the Department of Crop, Soil and Environmental Sciences, and was named the Auburn University College of Agriculture’s first Rowe Endowed Professor. Dr. Guertal has taught various turfgrass and educational subjects in Cuba, Argentina, Spain, England, Mauritius, China, New Zealand and Canada. More importantly, she has worked extensively with turf managers in the southeast and knows her audience.
Beth is the current President of the Crop Science Society of America, and as such she helps to lead all turfgrass scientists in the nation. In her 25 years at Auburn she has taught turfgrass management to many undergraduates, and also advises graduate students. She currently teaches Soil Fertility to all students in Crop Science. She will speak on “Fertilizers Demystified: Debunking Common Myths and Setting the Record Straight,” discussing various fertilizer facts, myths and perceptions in the presentation, with welcome interaction from the audience. (Photo 2)
Rodney Smith, Jr. will present a session that is just downright good for the soul! Hailing from Alabama, Rodney has received national recognition with his program to provide service to those unable to care for their lawns. He just finished a 50-state tour where he mowed lawns free for veterans. “It was a way of showing my gratitude for their service. I am also thankful to Delta Airlines who sponsored my trip to Hawaii and Alaska.” Rodney relished hearing the vets’ stories, whether it was World War II, Korea, Vietnam or Afghanistan and believes all veterans are deserving of a helping hand. More importantly, Rodney encourages others, especially youths, to get involved and mow yards for free for the elderly, disabled, single moms and veterans as an outreach and way of giving back. He is making a difference! One lawn at a time! (Photo 3)
To find out more about Rodney’s non-profit, Raising Men Lawn Care, go to his web site at weareraisingmen.com.
While we are beefing up our program with these amazing keynote speakers, the Deep South Turf Expo is planning some additional entertainment this year. The Deep South Four Ball Golf Tournament will be reprised and held on Monday at The Preserve and on Tuesday at Fallen Oak. While teams are battling it out over the Four Ball tournament at Fallen Oak on Tuesday in the two-day tournament sponsored by Beard, Greenville, and John Deere Golf, the Preserve Golf Club will host the Scramble Tournament, as it has for the past four years. AmeriTurf will sponsor the tournament and Redox will provide drinks for both tournaments.
Following the Scramble at The Preserve, whether you golf or not, we are inviting everyone to come out in the late afternoon to attend a Tail Gate Picnic that is being planned by our partners, Aqua-Aid, Beard, Greenville Turf & Tractor, Jerry Pate Turf & Irrigation, John Deere Golf, Ladd’s, Residex and Simplot. Bayer will provide shuttle bus service for the Tail Gate. The food promises to be amazing and a good time will be had by all!
Lest we forget, in addition to the golf there will be the Skeet and Trap Tournament on Tuesday as well, and we have provided some new venues for the Sports Field Tour. The Tour will begin at historic Beauvoir, where attendees will have lunch and take a tour of the extensive grounds. Following that they will travel to Biloxi High School where they will view the baseball, softball and football fields. The tour will end at Shuckers Stadium in time for everyone to take part in the Tail Gate at The Preserve.
We are really excited about our program this year! Registration for exhibitors and attendees is open on-line at:
Make plans now to attend. Getting together with friends and colleagues in Biloxi in the fall is always a special time for our industry. Don’t miss it!READ THE ISSUE