CONDITION. PERFORM. RECOVER. WINNER SUPPORTS HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS FOR TURF SUCCESS
When you lead a turf management team, conditioning yourself and your turf to perform well and recover from stress throughout the season is only part of the job. Ensuring your crew is physically and emotionally supported is also a critical part of success, especially when your turf management team is 100 high school students.
Last summer, turf managers were asked to share photos showing how they conditioned themselves or their turf to perform well and recover from stress. Eight finalists were chosen for two grand prize categories, Turf and Personal Fitness, and voted on by attendees of the 2018 Golf Industry Show and visitors to ConditionPerformRecover.com
. Our grand prizes were awarded to Logan Horne and Neal Sitzman.
Logan Horne, the Turf Fitness grand prize winner, leads a turf management program called the Jungle Turf Crew at Louisa County High School in Mineral, Virginia. His submission featured the school’s football field before a game. He submitted the photo with a note that the turf and field featured in the photo was maintained by his students.
Above: The winning submission featuring Louisa County High School’s football field, also known as “The Jungle.”
“We learn and do a little bit of everything,” says Horne. “From irrigation and sodding to slicing and painting – I do it all with the kids.”
Horne says the students were “beyond excited” to be nationally recognized for their hard work.
“In our photo, everything was done by my students,” Horne says. “Mowing, painting, helping seed the fields — they did it all. For them to see that we could be recognized for all their work was huge, especially since the turf industry doesn’t always get the recognition it deserves.”
Horne is an alumnus from Louisa County High School and participated in the program he now leads. After graduating from Virginia Tech University, he worked for the Jacksonville Jaguars until he received a call from a former teacher asking if he was interested in leading his high school’s turf program. Since the program gave him guidance when he was in school, he felt a duty to help it.
“I wanted to give a try because I was worried if I didn’t take the job, the whole program would fold,” Horne says. “Attendance was down, all the equipment was broken, and all the fields were in rough shape. Being able to come back and contribute to the program’s growth, and now winning the Condition. Perform. Recover. grand prize, really means a lot to me, but I think to the students who work with me on the fields every day, it means even more.”
Because students are often pitching in around the clock, Horne understands the importance of helping students recover from stress that can come from school, the pressure of preparing four sports fields and general school landscaping.
“Burnout is real,” says Horne. “You see it on their faces.”
To keep his team engaged and energized, Horne employs several tactics.
“I’ll pull them aside and let them know they’re doing a great job,” he says. “I make sure they’re hydrated and rested, listen to them and support them. Sometimes all they need is a word of encouragement and to hear ‘good job.’”
Louisa County High School’s turf program is influencing the future of the whole industry in a big way. The town celebrates the team and the top-performing turf they manage, and a few students are graduating from the program to pursue degrees in turf management at schools like Virginia Tech. Additionally, the $2,500 grand prize went directly to new Jungle Turf Crew uniforms as a thank-you for a year well-done.
“I wanted it to be a reward for all of their hard work,” says Horne. “Without them, nothing would be possible. They’re helping this program get the national attention it deserves. We are still growing, and we’re doing it together.”
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