ABAC Grounds Department takes a winter trip

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ABAC’s Grounds Department started to post pictures of many of the different turfs, grounds and facilities of many of the professional teams in Florida on Facebook and Instagram.

Last month, the Sports Turf Management Association (STMA) hosted the Sports Tour Managers Conference in West Palm Beach, Florida on Jan. 13-16. Normally, these conferences are hosted farther away, so this is the first one that our ABAC Grounds Department has been able to attend in four years.

The purpose of this STMA conference is to, “…manage sports field playing surfaces to the safest level possible…” and to efficiently inform their members of “the best management practices.”

ABAC Grounds Superintendent, Brad Barbee, explained the educational importance of these conferences and opportunities, he and his team members attended six classes: Athletic Field Soils: How to Manage Them, Lessons Learned in 35 Years in Turf, Professional Baseball Field Renovation, Understanding; Assessing and Managing Shade Stress Problems in Stadiums, Bermuda Grass=All the Latest on Cultivar Performance and Management and Cost of Ownership=From Turf to Dirt.

These classes were all taken to further the knowledge of turf management, and although several of these classes were centered around sports turf management, the transfer of knowledge onto ABAC’s school grounds is important for the improvement of convenience and safety.

At this conference and tour, they also got to witness and learn about Rock Stadium’s millions of dollars’ worth of growth light panels. These are in place because Rock Stadium was built in a place where they do not get full sunlight, roughly 25 percent of the grass doesn’t get enough sunlight. The light panels stimulate full photosynthesis of the Bermuda grass, and the Green Bay Field managers only ever utilize half of the equipment.

There are many other classes and opportunities available for Grounds Departments involved with STMA as well as other trips; STMA also claims, “In addition to educational seminars, hands-on workshops and the latest technology on display, conference attendees can tour professional, college and municipal facilities that offer a range of insights to take back home.”

The opportunities of the classes and tours from the STMA are important for people working in grounds management because it helps the members learn new techniques for ground management that are safer and more effective.

The ABAC Grounds Department is always focusing on improving the aesthetic appearance of the campus while keeping things safe and efficient.

Barbee also informs that the focus of many Grounds Departments within Professional Grounds Manager Society (PGMS) is to take pride in their work on grounds, with an estimate of 71 percent of college enrollees and parents choosing colleges based on the condition of their grounds, there is a stress on the importance of natural aesthetic.

Our ABAC Grounds Department focusses on cleanliness and safety for the students, Barbee even won Clean Campus Award three times. Each person in the Grounds Department spends one and a half hours PER DAY committed to cleaning up trash. The rest of the time is spent checking for any safety issues such as overgrown shrubbery, loose gravel, removing blockages or other visual infringements and keeping the storm drains clean.

Other than that, the department, along with the upper administration, wants to ensure the happiness of the students at ABAC. They understand that nature is important to the mental wellbeing of people.

The grounds department spends a great deal of their time focusing on what would make the students pause and admire something like the new decorative bed at the Ag Science building. Barbee states that the department loves doing things like this and knowing that the students enjoy it. The importance of these conferences, such as the one held by STMA, is undeniable and helps to continue the improvement of our grounds.

The ABAC Grounds Department also plans to go on several other trips this upcoming year to maintain connections and continue the educated improvement of their work. All these dates and places are tentative, but the Grounds Department plans to go to Washington D.C. in July or August to tour The White House grounds, the Smithsonian and several high upkeep botanical gardens.

They may attend the Georgia State College in Atlanta to hopefully learn about urban landscape and care as well as attend the national conference in Louisville Kentucky. They are also hoping to attend the Auburn University conference for the PGMS in January of next year.

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