SFMA enjoys successful 31st Annual Conference and Exhibition

The Sports Turf Managers Association (SFMA) received outstanding participation at its 31st annual Conference and Exhibition in West Palm Beach, Fla., Jan. 13-16.

The West Palm Beach County Convention Center welcomed more than 2,100 participants, including nearly 1,300 sports field leaders and 850 exhibitors from 15 countries. Four days of industry education, networking events and product demonstrations were highlighted by a volunteer rebuild of Howard Park and sports complex tours including FITTEAM Ballpark and Hard Rock Stadium. Additionally, $40,000 was raised for SFMA’s charitable arm, The Foundation for Safer Athletic Fields for Everyone (SAFE). 

“Individuals from around the globe traveled this week to share innovative thoughts and collaborative ideas that will revolutionize our industry and the profession as a whole,” said Jimmy Simpson, CSFM, newly-elected SFMA president, and facilities management coordinator for the Town of Cary, N.C. “Each member leaves with valuable knowledge to further elevate their facility and provide the safest conditions for athletes.”

Attendees enjoyed 45 educational sessions and panels given by renowned industry leaders. Sessions focused on turfgrass management, facility management, synthetic turf, pest control, water, industry developments, baseball and professional development.

Award winners recognized included “Field of the Year” recipients in professional, collegiate, schools and parks categories. 

The prestigious Founders’ Awards acknowledging significant contributions to the profession were bestowed to:

  • Kim Heck, CAE, SFMA – George Toma Golden Rake
  • Allen Johnson, CSFM, Green Bay Packers – Dick Ericson Award
  • Troy Smith, CSFM, Ewing – Harry C. Gill Award
  • Victoria Wallace, University of Connecticut – Dr. William H. Daniel Award 

In the “Student Challenge,” teams of up to four were tested on their knowledge and skills in several key disciplines within the sports field industry for a chance of winning one of two $5,000 grants.

Winners from four-year programs include:

  • Penn State University, State College, Penn. – Team 403 (First Place)
  • Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa – Team 405 (Second Place)
  • Purdue University, Lafayette, Ind. – Team 418 (Third Place)

Two-year program winners are as follows:

  • Mt. San Antonio College, Walnut, Calif. – Team 209 (First Place)
  • Penn State University, State College, Penn. – Team 211 (Second Place)
  • Ohio State University Agricultural Technical Institute, Wooster, Ohio – Team 208 (Third Place) 

Since 1989, SFMA has hosted its annual convention in major cities across America. Next year’s event will be held in Palm Springs, Calif. Jan. 11-14, 2021.