Advocate to your boss to attend the STMA Conference

The 2022 STMA Conference education program is guaranteed to highlight new strategies and technology in the industry that can help you successfully manage your fields, facilities and staff. From Jan. 17-20, 2022 in Savannah, Ga., the in-person event will feature more than 45 speakers leading 39 education sessions. The conference continues virtually every Tuesday for four weeks post-conference from Jan. 25 through Feb. 15. Each week, two sessions will cover topics ranging from common calculations used to manage fields, new technologies such as precision water and pest management, and synthetic turf management. These post-conference sessions are included in the conference registration price.

The conference education and events are nearly all finalized, so start laying the groundwork now with your employer to attend. In the sidebar to this article, STMA has provided an example communication to customize for your boss. Follow up with your boss and provide the full conference brochure, which will be available in early September. 


Program, Speakers and Student Challenge

The conference kicks off with the General Session on Tuesday morning. Labor shortages in the industry are truly challenging field managers to do more with less. Many facilities are working hard to maintain normal standards with less than half of a typical workforce. The General Session will discuss investing in the next generation of sports field managers, finding qualified employees, and utilizing unique strategies to improve efficiency.

The education continues Tuesday through Thursday with nine different tracks on turfgrass and soil management, environmental and pest management, professional development, construction, baseball, facility management, water, synthetic, and industry developments. Back this year is the highly attended New Trends and Technology in Sports Fields, where 10 commercial companies each have five minutes to present about the latest innovative product or service they offer. Other highly anticipated sessions include:

• Chemical (e.g. Glyphosate) Exposure for Employees and Players: Health Concern?

• Back to Basics: Troubleshooting Your Irrigation System’s Electronics

• Research, Trial, and Error; Selecting Warm Season Grasses for Stadiums

• Performance Testing and Player Safety: What the Research Tells Us

• Addressing Public Concerns with Synthetic Pesticide Use in Turfgrass

• Applying Business Lessons to your Sports Field Operations

• Hiring… Assistants…and Interns…and Seasonal Crew. Oh my!

The in-person education concludes Thursday afternoon with repeats of the most popular sessions as voted on by STMA members. Just in case you missed a session during the week, you can catch up Thursday afternoon. All conference attendees will receive a link post-conference to all the education sessions as part of their registration thanks to sponsor STEC.

The STMA Student Collegiate Challenge is back for the 2022 Conference. The event is presented in partnership with the SAFE Foundation, founding partner Hunter Industries, and supporting sponsor Ewing. Each year, students from 2-year and 4-year colleges and universities throughout the country compete in an exam that challenges knowledge in the sports field industry. The winning teams receive a cash award, a plaque, and medallions for each team member. The prize money benefits the institution’s turfgrass science program, and creates opportunities for students pursuing a career in sports field management. The 2022 event will take place Wed., Jan. 19 from 2-4:30 pm. The competition brings together more than 30 teams from collegiate turfgrass programs across the United States to compete on a multiple-choice exam, live identification, and a hands-on activity. STMA looks forward to seeing young professionals showcase their knowledge and skills through this opportunity.


Field Rebuild, SAFE Golf, Seminar on Wheels, Chapter Office Training, Welcome Reception, Women’s Forum, Trade Show, Annual Meeting and Keynote, Awards Banquet 

For the third year, STMA is partnering with Project Evergreen to renovate a field in need in Savannah. The rebuild will take place on Mon., Jan. 17. All members are invited to participate. Transportation, products and materials will be provided. Pre-registration is required. 

SAFE will be hosting its annual fundraising golf tournament, and plans are to hold it at the Westin, on property, so that golfers will not need to travel off-site. Sponsoring the event on Monday is Diamond Pro and Tri-Tex Grass. 

Bush Sports Turf is again sponsoring the Tours program, which is still being finalized by the Conference Tours committee. This event will take participants off-site to see a variety of sports venues. The tours are set tentatively for Monday and Thursday. 

The Chapter Relations Committee will be presenting an informational guide to chapter leaders that presents a wide variety of practices and ideas to consider to make the affiliated chapter network more vibrant. The guide showcases how chapters are applying these strategies for success.

Meet up with old friends and make new ones during the lively Welcome Reception on Tuesday, sponsored by The Toro Company and Covermaster. The reception will be held on a riverboat!

All women are invited to attend a special session and lunch on Tuesday during the Women’s Forum. This event is sponsored by Hunter Industries, now in its 15th year of doing so. 

Approximately 175 exhibitors will be showcasing products and services for the industry on the trade show floor on Wednesday and Thursday. The trade show hours will not compete with the educational programs to allow for maximum time visiting booths. 

On Wednesday, the new 2022 STMA Board of Directors will be introduced during the annual meeting, and attendees will be presented with an inspirational keynote address by Craig Whelden, sponsored by World Class Athletic Surfaces. After an impressive military career, Whelden decided he wanted to give back by sharing all he’d learned about leadership with the next generation of leaders. He will present on Inspired Leadership.

The four-day event concludes with the Annual Awards Banquet on Thursday during which the Field of the Year, Innovative, and Founders Awards will be presented to the recipients; the President’s Award for Leadership will be given, and Scholarship students will be honored. Awards sponsors include Carolina Green Corp., Precision Laboratories, World Class Athletic Surfaces and John Deere.


Meals, Safety, Southern Charm and More  

STMA provides many meals during the conference: breakfast each day, heavy hors d’oeuvres during receptions, lunch, and heavy hors d’oeuvres on the trade show floor, lunch during the annual meeting, and a three-course dinner during the concluding banquet. 

STMA and all the venues it is using in Savannah follow CDC guidelines, and will provide a safe event for attendees. If you wish to wear a mask, there will be a supply at the STMA Registration area.

The City of Savannah offers a unique conference experience for its members and is also the perfect place for you to bring your partner for a romantic getaway. What better place to combine world-class education and spend quality time with your partner! STMA will offer a guest registration option that will allow full access to the conference offerings, or you can select individual events such as golf, bowling, and the awards banquet. While you are attending education sessions, your partner can take a three-minute water taxi ride to the Downtown Historic District that boasts world-class restaurants, shopping, rooftop bars and breweries. After conference sessions conclude, reconnect with your partner and sample some fried green tomatoes, extra crispy fried chicken, and southern BBQ. Then wash it all down with Savannah’s signature drink, Chatham Artillery Punch. 

Within the Historic District, you can take a romantic stroll through Forsyth Park and the River Market, visit museums and landmarks, all while indulging in locally made ice cream. Stay through the weekend and visit Tybee Island. Once there, you can watch for dolphins while indulging in oysters and champagne at a beachside restaurant. STMA truly hopes you and your partner consider joining us for the 2022 STMA Conference and Exhibition. The conference hotels are honoring the same rate three days pre-conference and three days post-conference. 

The STMA Conference would not be possible without the work of its committees. The Conference Committees have worked hard to select a wide variety of sessions, events and activities to help you expand your education and improve as a sports field manager professionally and personally. They have made sure there is something for everyone, so don’t miss out. Those involved in planning the event include:

Conference Education Committee: Chair – Adam Thoms, Ph.D.; James Bergdoll, CSFM; James Brosnan, Ph.D.; Jason Campbell; Jason Craft, CSFM; Ryan DeMay, CSFM; Ronald Dobosz; Wes Ganobcik; Thomas Goyne; Gerald Henry, Ph.D.; Chris Hohnstrater, CSFM; Bryan Hopkins, Ph.D.; Joe Kovolyan, CSFM; Gregg Munshaw, Ph.D.; Bradley Park; Sun Roesslein, CSFM; Craig Sampsell, CSFM; John Sorochan, Ph.D.; Clint Steele, CSFM; Chase Straw, Ph.D.;  Peter Thibeault, CSFM; Alan Wilson, CSFM; and Keith Winter.

Commercial Advisory Committee: Chair – Jeremy Bohonko; Co-chair – Paula Sliefert; Chris Ball, CSFM; Chris Bell; Turner Revels; Jim Surrell; Erin Wilder; and Chris Welborn.

Conference Tours Committee: Co-Chairs – Alpha Jones, CSFM and Clark Cox, CSFM; Mark Bajno, CSFM; Chris Ball, CSFM; James Bergdoll, CSFM; Danny Losito; John Mascaro; Michael Peters; Sun Roesslein, CSFM; Jeff Sheehan, CSFM; and Troy Von Holdt, CSE.

SAFE Golf: Chair – Steve Wightman.

Chapter Officer Training Session: Chair – Clark Cox, CSFM; Bill Byron; Kevin Lebanik; Dan Leonard, CSFM; Don Savard, CSFM; Bruce Suddeth, CSFM; Michael Tarantino, CSFM; and Lee Van Meeteren.

Student Challenge: Chair – Sarah Martin, CSFM; Matt Anderson, CSFM; James Bergdoll, CSFM; Leah Brilman, Ph.D.; Tanner Delvalle; Samuel Doak;  Jeffrey Fowler; Stephen Lord, CSFM; Mark Moran, CSFM;  Gregg Munshaw, Ph.D.; Steven Ries;  Sun Roesslein, CSFM; Craig Sampsell, CSFM; and Chrissie Segars, Ph.D. 

Innovative Awards: Chair – Dan Bergstrom, CSFM; Ryan Bjorn; Scott Dobbins, CSFM; Edward Hall, CSFM; Maritza Martinez; and Leanne Nadwidny.

Communicate with your boss

Adapt the following letter to support your attendance at the STMA Conference in 2022. To customize it, review the education sessions above and add any specific sessions that you plan to attend that would help you and your facility solve a problem, and help your employer understand why it is important to allocate the funding to send you. 

Dear [Employer],

Unbelievably, it has been 18 months since I have had the opportunity to truly engage with my peers in-person and learn more about how to advance our field management practices.  

The Sports Turf Managers Association (STMA), my professional association for the past (XX) years is holding its annual educational conference Jan. 17–20, 2022 in person in Savannah, Georgia. This year’s conference will offer nine educational tracks, 45 speakers and 39 educational events. The conference will also provide four weeks of virtual continuing education post-conference for all attendees to continue the learning. 

Attending STMA in-person will provide invaluable information as athletic events are fully scheduled on our fields. In addition to the opportunity for my personal development, the conference education will provide me with new techniques, turfgrass research findings and technology to save time and money while providing safer field surfaces.  

A key feature of the conference is networking. I learn so much from my peers from around the country and the world. The conference offers many events where I can connect with peers – practitioners and academics – to ask questions and hear solutions that have worked for them. The exposition provides tremendous access to the commercial companies that serve our industry. Being able to see all the products and services in one place is a huge time-saver and allows for better decision making.   

The cost to attend is far less than the value incurred. Several years ago, the ROI was documented at 1,375 percent. The direct costs include registration, $375; airfare, $500; three nights hotel, $600 plus tax; and a few meals, because the STMA provides most meals. For this, I will gain the equivalent education valued in the thousands of dollars, based on standard professional education costs, and I will receive 1.5 CEUs. 

I will be providing the conference brochure with a link to all the educational sessions and events as soon as it is available for your approval to attend. Please let me know if you have additional questions. 

Thank you for your consideration,