Cody Whitis, Justin Shirley, Joey Gerking, and Zak Peterson traveled to Austin, TX for the seventh annual Student Challenge Exam at the Sports Turf Managers Association (STMA) Meetings. Purdue placed 1st out of 32 teams. The students worked hard to prepare for the competition and were surprised when announced in 1st place. “This motivates us to continue to work hard in order to do well at the GCSAA Show in Orlando, FL” according to 3rd year turf bowl member and President of the Turf Club, Justin Shirley. The STMA is rich with Purdue University tradition as the late Dr. Bill Daniel, long-time Purdue professor and a pioneer in the turf industry, was one of the four founding members. Dr. Daniel is honored each year by an award in his name that honors individuals who have significantly contributed to the sports turf industry through research, teaching and extension.
Teams from various colleges and universities participated in a written exam on sports turf and sports field topics. The two hour competition included the identification of insects, grasses, and weeds and covered mathematics, soil physical properties, plant physiology, and plant growth and development in addition to question on athletic field construction, design and maintenance. At the conference, students were able to take advantage of many activities specifically geared to them including the student challenge exam, workshops and a student network luncheon. The teams would like to acknowledge the support they received this year from the Midwest Regional Turf Foundation (MRTF), Agronomy Department, their advisor Dr. Cale Bigelow and graduate teaching assistants, Tracy Tudor and Jon Trappe. Without Dr. Bigelow, Tracy Tudor, MRTF and the help of the Agronomy Department the students would not be able to compete in the STMA competition. Please commend them on their performance and hard work the next time you see these students.
1st Place team pictured left to right: Chris Calcaterra (STMA President), Cody Whitis, Justin Shirley, Joey Gerking, and Zak Peterson