Students were able to take advantage of many activities specifically geared to them including a student forum, student lunch, and the Fifth Annual STMA Student Challenge presented in partnership with the SAFE Foundation and Platinum Sponsor Hunter Industries. Through the generosity of SAFE, the Student Challenge provides the winning two-year team and the winning four-year team each with a $4,000 grant to fund a practical learning lab at their college or university. An event record 108 students, representing twenty-two colleges, universities, and technical schools, entered a total of thirty-one teams. Teams of up to four students participated in a multiple choice exam on athletic turf and sports field management topics and identified plants, insects, diseases and weeds, as well as performing a written case study. Ninety-nine students and thirty teams competed in the event in 2008. Hunter Industries’ continued sponsorship picks up the tab for all Student Challenge competitors’ STMA Conference registration.
The winning team from the Four Year Competition was Pennsylvania State University Blue Team 009, whose members were Tanner Del Valle, Matt Elmore, Nicholas Gialloretto, and Nicholas Leviere. Mr.’s Del Valle and Elmore are the first two students to successfully defend their Student Challenge title. Penn State’s White Team 008 finished third. The University of Tennessee made a very strong showing with Team 014 finishing second out of twenty-one total teams in the Four Year Competition.
Ten teams competed in the Two Year Competition, with Mt. San Antonio College Team 102 taking top honors, making them the first school to win the Two Year Competition twice. Teammates Patrick Escalera, Geoff Miller, Chaz Perea, and Hector Ramirez studied intensely leading up to the exam. Second place went to Pennsylvania State University Two Year Team 103 and third place was taken home by Mt. San Antonio College Team 101.
In addition to their $4,000 grant, the two first place teams’ will also have their team name etched in the traveling Student Challenge Cup; receive replicas of the Cup and individual medals; and provide an article to be presented in an official STMA publication. Second and Third place winners received plaques and medals.