5 questions with STMA’s Abby McNeal, CSFM

Tomas Silvani from Buffalo Agency, the STMA’s public relations arm, recently spoke with former STMA President Abby McNeal, CSFM. McNeal is operations supervisor for the City and County of Denver Parks to learn more about the association’s International Committee and her involvement in the Dominican Republic field clinic and other topics:

What role did STMA play in facilitating a field clinic in the Dominican Republic?

STMA’s International Committee has been exploring ways we can extend our education to international audiences. We have been conducting outreach to various international “green” and “sports” associations during the past few years, and also explored conducting an event hosted exclusively by STMA in Brazil. We realized we really need a knowledgeable, on-the-ground source to help us put together an educational event. One of our committee members, Murray Cook, who consults with Major League Baseball, offered to connect STMA with upcoming training opportunities that MLB conducts. Our committee worked with Dr. Mike Goatley, who agreed to present on our behalf. Everything aligned for our participation in the clinic in the Dominican Republic — even Hurricane Irma veered away from the site.

How will this benefit sports turf managers internationally?

The more education and resources we can share with sports field managers around the world, the better the field quality and the safety of the playing surfaces will be for their athletes. It is our committee’s goal that our members in the U.S. also learn from those managing fields in other countries. In the Dominican Republic, for example, much of their field maintenance is done by hand, and their results are really amazing.

How important are seminars to the growth of the sports turf industry?

A rising tide raises all boats! Educated field managers contribute to the credibility of a profession. Compensation, respect from employers and peers, and an individual’s stature all are positively impacted when there is a commitment to continuing education. This drives growth within an industry. 

What has been your proudest moment with the STMA to date?

Serving the association for 9 years (and continued service since board election) and working to become STMA’s first female president. The overall strength and growth that I have seen from the members and the adaptation of the services that STMA provides it members in the last 20 years has shown how the industry has changed. I am proud to be a part of it and to help grow the association and advance our industry and its members. 

Do you have any advice for aspiring sports turf managers?

Network, Network, Network…. Find ways to broaden your strengthens and enhance the areas you need to make stronger. STMA is an amazing association and the members are what drives the strength of it. Anyone that is aspiring to be a sports turf manager today has so many resources and new technologies at their fingertips but the best one is the ability to use the associations members to learn from. Take the time to learn from each other and to share through networking. I have yet to find a member not willing to help another member. Sport turf managers are creative and knowledgeable and I will always be willing to share and learn from another in the industry. We can always grow and improve and networking is the best way to do that.