Monday, November 18, 2013

A 'Grass Roots' initiative

As professionals in the turf industry, we search for ways to communicate to the public what it is that we do, how we steward our environment, and especially, how turfgrass benefits our society, economy and health. We all know these things, but how do we tell others? Well, one new communications vehicle is officially on the road to support this ambition -- the turfgrass exhibit at the National Arboretum in Washington D.C.

The new exhibit, coined 'Grass Roots,' broke ground on Friday, Nov. 15, with about 120 people (8 or so of them superintendents) in attendance. Colien Hefferan, Ph.D., director at the arboretum, gave opening remarks,  thanking the many contributing partners and describing the initiative as a "beautification of science."

Arboretum Assistant Director Kevin Morris then outlined the five components of the exhibit, expected to be completed in spring 2014:

1.) Outdoor interactive area
2.) Web-based information
3.) Workshops, symposiums, product demos
4.) National greenscape corridor
5.) Personal 'Grass Roots' stories

Frank Rossi, Ph.D. at Cornell University, presented an educational lecture detailing the history of America's love for lawns. "Can we sustain this love affair," Rossi asked the crowd. And the answer was an emphatic yes. To support his theory, Rossi presented science-based information detailing turf's role as a carbon sink and water filter in the context of golf, lawns, landscapes and athletic fields. However, if we are going to sustain, Rossi said, we must do it smartly -- starting with educating the public. Come full circle and there you have it, the unveiling of a turf exhibit on a national stage.

The National Arboretum worked with partners at the USDA and National Turfgrass Federation (of which GCSAA is a sponsor) to provide the financial support for the development of the Grass Roots exhibit. The display aims to explore the economic, environmental, recreational, and aesthetic benefits of turf. Furthermore, all statements and information will be scientifically based, and donors of the project are welcome to host visitors, events, and suggest workshops.

Geoffrey Rinehart has been hired to coordinate the development and maintenance of the project, and will oversee the exhibit on a full-time basis. Which is an important component to assure the presentation of the exhibit be maintained at a standard in which we expect of our beloved golf courses. The all-inclusive exhibit will display a real-life par-three complete with a tee, green, and fairway. Likewise, a green roof, a rain garden, sports fields, lawn games, and both cool- and warm-season grasses will be showcased -- and that's only half of it. Imagine an interactive center for displaying responsible fertilization practices, proper water use and re-use techniques, maintenance demos, and recreational lawn games. Twenty-yard dash anyone? Just check out the exhibit.
Superintendents of the Mid-Atlantic GCSA chapter will play a key role in supporting the exhibit by offering their expertise in management, assistance with turf equipment maintenance, and possible labor support. Not only is this a great way to get involved, but it's also a great way to embrace an industry initiative that will benefit the livelihood of us all. Grass Roots is the name, and how could it be any better?

For more information and to show your support, follow @Grass_Roots_NTF on Twitter, Like them on Facebook, and check out the webpages linked above.

The final blueprints for the exhibit - expected completion in spring 2014
The ceremonial breaking ground at the site of the future green roof display

About 120 attendees listen to opening remarks at the National Arboretum

No comments:

Post a Comment