June 2017

SportsTurf provides current, practical and technical content on issues relevant to sports turf managers, including facilities managers. Most readers are athletic field managers from the professional level through parks and recreation, universities.

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THE INTERVIEW 26 SportsTurf | June 2017 THE SPORTSTURF INTERVIEW: VICKIE WALLACE the planning of educational programs, speaking at confer- ences, and some Extension-based research. While I am still involved with some turfgrass variety evaluation, I also am involved with other research projects. I continue to enjoy networking with industry friends when I am at conferences or workshops. SportsTurf: What do you think is the best approach in trying to educate parents, school boards, etc., on using chemical products safely? Wallace: The decision to use or not use pesticides is an emo- tionally charged issue. Decisions to ban pesticides on athletic fields/outdoor school properties often are made without un- derstanding how pesticide applications may fit into the overall scheme of safe playing fields. The most logical approach is to educate parents or other stakeholders, with a focus on player safety. Safe playing fields are the priority. It is important to highlight what makes an athletic field safe (uniform playing surfaces, improved soil health, reduced soil compaction to alleviate field hardness), and what will improve the overall health of the turfgrass. Here in Connecticut, we constantly promote and reinforce the value of IPM. Many people who advocate for legislation to restrict pesticide use on school or municipal properties have done so as they improperly trash IPM. In Connecticut, we also have nutrient legislation that limits the addition of Phosphorus as part of a turfgrass fertility pro- gram. Therefore, the use of compost and its impact as part of the overall nutrient management program of a turfgrass system also has been a focus of our school IPM programs. SportsTurf: You know a lot of turf managers. What are they saying are the biggest obstacles to overcome for them to be successful today? Wallace: Consistently, I hear five topics mentioned: profes- sionalism, communication, staffing, budget and technology. Sports turf managers must be professional and communicate well at all times whether speaking with administration, supervi- sors, colleagues, user groups, or town residents. They have to communicate their value and the role that they perform as it relates to turfgrass health, field safety, equipment, maintenance practices, field closures, or other technical issues. The days of sitting on a lawn mower and not interacting with the public or administration are over. The sports turf manager can offer a unique perspective about field care that needs to be included in all decisions that impact field use. Being professional and This month in "The SportsTurf Interview," we meet Vickie Wallace of the University of Connecticut, the Extension Educator responsible for the Sustainable Turf and Landscape Program in the state. V ickie recently was elected to the Board of the STMA Foundation, SAFE, The Foundation for Safer Athletic Fields. She is involved with IPM education and outreach programs for landscape professionals and municipal turf and grounds managers. A current focus is directed toward the ongoing installation of weather stations to schools across Connecticut, and subsequent educational outreach of these weather stations into general school grounds and turf care programs. She also is involved with the evaluation of low maintenance turfgrasses and the evaluation and efficacy of minimum risk weed management products. Before joining UConn in 2010, Ms. Wallace worked as an agronomist and sales representative in the turfgrass seed industry. SportsTurf: What are you responsible for as an Extension Educator at UConn? Wallace: My statewide Extension responsibilities focus on sustainability issues of school/municipal sports turf and grounds managers, as well as lawn and landscape professionals. Much of my programing involves educa- tion, centered on the pesticide-free management of safe athletic field surfaces and the care of municipal properties managed with reduced inputs. Programming effort also is directed toward environmentally sound lawn/landscape management protocols that encourage reduced inputs in the long-term care of the managed landscape. SportsTurf: How is life different now compared to when you worked in the seed industry? Wallace: A lot more report writing! Not fun! Seriously, in my former life as an agronomist and technical representa- tive in the turfgrass seed industry, I was actively involved with developing seed recommendations and evaluating successful seed mixtures. I established a vast network of friends and professional contacts in the turfgrass industry during my years in sales. I was fortunate to be able to work closely with researchers and turfgrass breeders that were developing and evaluating new turfgrass cultivars when the seed industry was at its peak. Now as an Extension Educator, I am more involved with

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