For the second year in a row the Purdue Turf Program has placed 1st in the Student Challenge Exam during the Sports Turf Managers Association (STMA) Meetings held January 10-14, 2012. Eight students traveled out to Long Beach, CA for the eighth annual Student Challenge Exam at the STMA Meetings. The four person team of Zak Peterson, John Thackery, Ben Baumer, and Joey Gerking placed 1st and Purdue’s second team, Steve Vonderheide, Cameron Cox, Zachary Ferguson, and Tyler Macali placed 17th out of 24 teams. 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 questions on athletic field construction, design and maintenance. At the conference, students were able to take advantage of many activities including the student challenge exam, workshops and a student network luncheon.
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.
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 assistant, Tracy Tudor. 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.