Opening Session

Industry Update From 2021 STMA President

Nick McKenna, STMA President

Nick McKenna, CSFM, is in his 13th year with Texas A&M University, currently in the tenth year of
his second stint.

McKenna is a graduate of Iowa State University (2002) with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in
horticulture with a turfgrass management focus. He served as a student worker in the athletic
department during his time in Ames and upon graduating McKenna worked as an athletic
groundskeeper at Texas A&M from 2003-05.
Prior to returning to College Station in 2011, McKenna spent four years as part of the athletic field
maintenance team at Virginia Tech. From 2011-15, he served as an Athletic Fields Foreman and
oversaw Olsen Field, the home of Texas A&M baseball. McKenna has served in his current role as
the Assistant Athletic Fields Maintenance Manager since 2015 where he is jointly responsible for
overseeing all of the playing surfaces for the Texas A&M Athletic Department.

In 2016, he was elected to the Sports Turf Managers Association board of directors and has
continued in that capacity for the past 5 years. He currently is serving as the President of the
association for 2021.

Keynote Speaker

Greg Blake

Life Lessons For The NEW Normalcy!

Greg Blake, Chief Engagement Officer for PepWorks International will bring an engaging,
“edutaining” and interactive session… Life Lessons For The New Normalcy for Sports
Turf Managers. The practical, applicable and memorable tools, tips and techniques you
will learn can be implemented the first day back at your worksite.

Some of the objectives to be covered in this 75 minute

ENERGIZING session are the following:

• How to be a selfless turf manager in a self-serving everybody earns a trophy world.
• 10 Ways to identify if you are bringing your passion to work in 2021.
• How to identify your premium, leaded and unleaded performers.
• 5 Ways to work S.M.A.R.T and earn your people’s trust in challenging times.
• How to determine if a team member is a toxic energy vampire!
• How to define the TOP 5 Reasons a prospective associate will join your organization.
• The 7 “Demandments” for empowering your team members.
• How to use the conflict resolution formula for dealing with: Differences, Discord &
• Be able to discover your stress level and stay calm.
• Why we MUST lead differently after Covid 19 using the 7C’s of “healing managership.”
• 6 things your Millennial associates need from you as their transformational coach.
• How to take ownership, accountability and responsibility for your daily performance.
• How to demonstrate “heartpower” with horsepower to your turf team.
• How to live out Legacy Leadership at your organization to those who follow in your

“It has been appallingly

Luke Yoder

Title:  Cost of Ownership from Turf to Dirt

Description:  How to get the most bang for your buck when an opportunity arises for a new field build or renovation.   We’ll discuss the good, the bad, and the ugly, showing real life examples to help avoid pit falls and discuss solid approaches for putting it together right the first time.    What should substantial completion truly look like and how to implement best practices moving forward to ensure long term success of your investment.   Thinking outside the box in terms of design, install, and material selection based on most recent innovations will be covered along with predicted costs per square ft to help understand what your Return on Investment will be. 

Luke Yoder
Senior VP of Business Development—DuraEdge Products
Luke has been a member of the Sports Turf Industry for more than two decades. After graduating from
Clemson University with a degree in Turf Science, Luke went on to have a career as a Head
Groundskeeper for the Iowa Cubs, Pittsburgh Pirates, and the San Diego Padres. During his MLB career
he had opportunities to consult with professional fields in Korea, Sweden, and the Dominican Republic.
Luke also owned and operated Diamond Designs in San Diego where he was able to work on fields from
Little League to the Professional level providing laser grading services, mound re-builds, and some total
surface replacements. Currently working for DuraEdge Products Luke enjoys providing support to
partners and end users promoting best practices through education and experience.

Chris Ball

Moderator Panel Discussion

Bio: “Butter” is a Highly decorated sports turf manager across all levels of MiLB over 20 years. 5 Field Of Year honors at High A Myrtle Beach Pelicans along with Class A Turf Manager of Year in ‘07 & ’10.  2017 International League Sports Turf Manager of the Year for the Gwinnett Braves and Triple A Sports Turf Manager of the Year. 

Avid sportsman and dog lover

Mike Echols

The Title:  Using the Bicycle Wheel Approach to Managing People

Brief Description of the Topic:  Employee retention is critical in today’s economy. Finding and retaining quality help is becoming a significant issue within the green industry.  In today’s work environment how do you make all the members of your staff feel included and significant in the success of your operation?  How do you place importance on each member of your team?  We will discuss some unique approaches to answering these questions. 

Bio:  Mike has been involved in the green industry for the last 40 years, including many years in golf course construction and maintenance, years as a small business owner, and the last two decades as the Director of Athletic Grounds and Fields at Clemson University.  He is a husband, father, and now grandfather.  Mike is a Christ follower who strongly believes that God has placed us here to serve others. Known as “Boogs” to those who love him the most.

Dr. Joseph Roberts

Rescue Rooter:  Approaches to Managing Root Pathogens in you Field

Turfgrasses are subject to a myriad of pathogenic organisms that can infect at various times of the year. While many foliar disease issues can be easily spotted in the early stages of development, root pest are more difficult as the symptoms may not be observed until the root system has been compromised. This seminar will provide a basic introduction to common root issues impacting sport fields in the Southeastern U.S., including both fungal and nematode pests. Attendees will become familiar with recognizing these issues and look at both cultural and chemical management tools for specific pests.

Joseph Roberts, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor and Extension Specialist in the Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences at Clemson University.  Joe earned  bachelors degrees in Biology and Chemistry from North Carolina State University, a master’s in Plant Biology and Pathology from Rutgers University, and his Ph.D. in Plant Pathology from North Carolina State University.  Joe’s research and extension program focuses on innovative methods to combat pathogens that impact both cool and warm season turfgrass species.

Dr. Terri Billeisen

Title: The Big Three Insect Pests of Sports Turf: White Grubs, Fall Armyworms and Fire Ants

Description: This talk will review basic biology and behavior of white grubs, fall armyworms and fire ants as they pertain to insect pest management decisions in managed turfgrass. Damage and sampling techniques will be reviewed as well as specific management approaches for each.

Bio: Terri Billeisen completed her B.S. and M.S. degrees in turfgrass entomology at Purdue University and moved to North Carolina in 2011 to continue research in the field. She completed her Ph.D. and post-doctoral research in turfgrass entomology under the direction of Dr. Rick Brandenburg. She has been an extension associate at NC State since January 2017 and current research efforts focus on annual bluegrass weevil management in western NC and examining pollinator community dynamics in managed turfgrass systems.

Dr. Casey Reynolds

Bio: Dr. Reynolds earned his Dr of Philosophy in crop science – turfgrass management in 2013
from NC State University. Previously holding the position of Assistant Professor & Extension Turfgrass
Specialist at Texas A&M University, coordinating turfgrass programs to ensure that turfgrass stakeholders
in Texas implement BMPs of turfgrass. Focus areas include turfgrass physiology, weed control, species/
variety development and selection, and water use. NCSU research responsibilities included planting, plot
management, data collection, data analysis, and report preparation for turfgrass breeding and selection trials
as well as NC regional trials and NTEP trials.

Dr. Travis Gannon

Bio: Associate Professor Turfgrass Management NC State University Dr. Gannon earned his
Bachelor of Science in Technical Agronomy, May 1999, with Honors from NC State University. After
graduating he worked as Research Technician, May 1999 – July 1999. Upon completion of his research
technician role, Dr Gannon join the extension department as a Extension Assistant from August 1999 – 2011 While working as an extension assistant, Dr. Gannon earned his Master of Science in Crop Science,
May 2003 and his Doctorate of Philosophy in Crop Science, May 2011 both from NC State University

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