Syngenta Partners with The Ohio State University to help inspire the Next Generation of Superintendents
At Syngenta, our commitment to the turf industry goes far deeper than the products we manufacture. We also take great pride in partnering with organizations that empower turf professionals and help to grow the future of the business we share.
Through one of those long-standing partnerships, Syngenta collaborates with The Ohio State University to support The Ohio Program, which provides educational and hands on training to the upcoming generation of golf course superintendents. The program is facilitated through The Ohio State University and is well known within the industry as a coveted international internship program in horticulture, agriculture and turfgrass.
Founded in 1979 as an exchange program bringing young farmers from England and Germany to the United States for training, The Ohio Program eventually shifted its focus from farming to include horticulture and turfgrass. Through its partnerships with top golf courses around the world, the non-profit program provides inbound internships for international students and outbound internships for American students around the world.
“The program helps to globalize the turf industry,” said Mike O’Keeffe, program director for The Ohio Program. “It educates future superintendents from around the world by providing them with the best experience available.”
For more than 15 years, Syngenta has been providing sponsorships for students to participate in the internship program and attend key industry events such as the Golf Industry Show (GIS). At the 2016 GIS, Syngenta created an opportunity for scholarship recipients to network with, and learn from, industry leaders and build informal relationships during an evening reception.
Group photo from The Ohio Program Class of 2009
“Our team takes great pride in supporting organizations like The Ohio Program, which directly impact the next generation of turf management professionals,” said Mark Birchmore, global lead of marketing, turf & landscape for Syngenta. “The education and training these students receive during their internships is an invaluable part of their early career allowing them to gain experience and make industry contacts, which will make them more marketable professionals within the industry. It’s truly a pleasure for us to contribute the growth of young professionals in this way and see the support from leading superintendents who provide opportunities for The Ohio Program by making placements available.”
“As a student, if you have The Ohio Program on your resume, it’s almost an automatic hire,” said Dr. Karl Danneberger, professor of horticulture and crop science at The Ohio State University, who helps facilitate the program. “Through travelling internationally and working for the most prestigious courses, this program has an impact on their lives both personally and professionally. And the ideas they have left here with have changed how turf is managed around the world.”
Interested in more stories from The Ohio Program? Read about the experiences of two more participants, David Blair and Mike McKenna.
More than 400 students participate in the program annually, with nearly 100 focusing on the turf industry. For at least 12 months, students gain hands-on experience with the most current turf management products and practices in various environments. The program also provides a great opportunity for the students to be mentored by turf industry leaders.
“From irrigation to spraying strategy to fertilization strategy, we’ve learned a lot,” said Lucas Pierré (left), a student from France who is participating in the program. “The [superintendents we work with] really trusted us, and ask the crew to really involve us in projects.”
Many students traditionally spend half of their time at a northern U.S. course learning about cool-season grasses, and spend the other half on a southern U.S. course learning about warm-season grasses. Students often learn about new industry leading products through their internships and bring that knowledge back overseas to provide recommendations to their home course.
“You’re learning from the best,” said Simon Winzar (right), another student participant from Australia. “And you’re getting to use all of the latest technology and machinery. If you commit to the program, and absorb everything you can, you’ll have the best time.”
For more information about The Ohio Program, visit ohioprogram.org.
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