Dr. Ali Harivandi, environmental horticulturist emeritus, University of California Cooperative Extension, was the honored recipient of the Turfgrass Educator Award of Excellence during the recent TPI 2014 International Education Conference & Field Day held in Orlando, FL.  

In making the surprise announcement in front of an audience of over 400 attendees from 13 different countries, Linda Moyer of Sod Solutions, Mount Pleasant, SC and chair of the TPI Public Relations Working Group stated that TPI’s Board of Trustees had made the decision to honor Harivandi for his years of service in supporting the efforts of turfgrass producers worldwide.

Moyer said that Harivandi’s “personal commitment, dedication and positive influence in helping to educate consumers, turfgrass producers, lawn care professionals, golf course superintendents and government decision-makers spans more than three decades.”

She went on to add, “Harivandi joined the University of California in 1980 as an environmental horticulturist specializing in turf, soil and water. Over the course of his career he expanded his research to include weeds, turf diseases, insect management, erosion control and water quality. He also promoted sustainability before sustainability became fashionable.

“In the 1990s, Harivandi’s research showed that leaving grass clippings on the lawn did no harm and actually did more good so he encouraged homeowners and landscape maintenance professionals to practice “grasscycling.” Today, it is a standard practice. More recently, he focused on recycled water and has encouraged its use whenever possible.

“Several years ago when TPI wanted to bring together its Public Relations Working Group with Turfgrass Extension Specialists, Harivandi not only made himself available year after year, he hosted one of group’s meetings in San Francisco. He has spoken on numerous occasions at TPI conferences and conventions, and has frequently provided TPI with research updates.

Harivandi is only the second recipient to receive this distinguished honor from TPI. The last award was presented in 2008 to Dr. Laurie Trenholm, Turfgrass Extension Specialist, University of Florida.

Upon being asked to step up to the stage to receive his award to a standing ovation, a somewhat stunned Harivandi expressed his gratitude and displayed the same professional grace, warmth and humility that is very much a part of his personality.

In a letter to the TPI Board Harivandi later wrote, “I have no doubt that the existence of this award will hearten and motivate others in my profession as well—it is wonderful to know that doing a good job at something one enjoys can earn special acknowledgement.

I hope Turfgrass Producers International will continue to interact with and support the turfgrass academic community in our mutual pursuit of economically and environmentally sustainable turfgrass.  I, personally, am honored to be associated with your organization, and believe others in academia are equally impressed by your efforts. Thank you again for this unexpected award—its receipt is a pleasure as well as an honor.”

TPI has nearly 800 members in over 40 countries comprised of turfgrass sod and seed producers, equipment manufacturers and suppliers, and various individuals involved in education and/or turf-related research.- by Jim Novak, TPI Public Relations Manager

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