As we press into the growing season of 2020, it is always good practice to keep everyone up to date on all things happening at the Guelph Turfgrass Institute. Please read through this posting to keep abreast of our various of service education and outreach for the foreseeable future
COVID-19 and U of G Update
As of this point, most people have already begun to hunker down and practice good social distancing due to the recent pandemic involving COVID-19. The University of Guelph has put a number of measures in place to protect our students, staff, faculty and community stakeholders. Face-to-face classes have been cancelled for the remainder of the 2020 semester, with alternative and online platforms being implemented as quickly and smoothly as possible. Students who have alternative housing arrangements have been asked to vacate dorms; campus remains open but only essential staff and operations personnel will be on-site. All non-essential staff have been asked to work remotely or from home. This is only a brief summary of the current operational changes. Please understand that new information is evolving every day, sometimes multiple times a day, so please make every effort to visit the U of G COVID-19 update page in order to ensure you have a complete understanding of all the measures the U of G is taking to keep everyone safe and reduce the risk of spread. As of this moment, the GTI will exercise the same operational changes and measures outline by the U of G.
The New GTI Location
Our new facility is well-underway for the completion of the new GM Frost Centre. The most recent update from the construction meetings is that there will be an estimate two-to-three week delay related to the poor fall conditions in 2019. Excessive rains and early snowfalls kept the paving of the entry road and parking lots, now deferred to early spring of this year. This will likely push our move-in date to mid/late September - provided that there are no other interruptions associated with supply chains or work stoppages related to the recent COVID-19 pandemic. We are also crossing our fingers that the weather cooperates this spring and summer so the planned schedule can go ahead as intended. If you have the chance, take a drive down College rd. and have a look at the new site yourself. Although the property is an active job-site and fenced off, much of the building is visible from the road. The general form of the new GM Frost Centre has taken shape and it is quite impressive. A more formal update will be released in the coming weeks as new information comes to light regarding U of G operations in lieu of the current global climate.
Turfgrass Managers' Short Course 2020
Another year always brings another crop of new turfies to the industry. In these trying times for recruitment, we are proud that the TMSC continues to be a overwhelmingly popular avenue for young and mature professionals to become certified turfgrass managers. The marks for the 2020 class were just released and we are extremely proud to announce that all 45 students have successfully earned their certificate! A hearty congratulations to all the students and a warm thank you to all the staff and instructors who help to make this such a wonderful program. We ask that those hiring managers and employers out there continue to mentor interested staff and inspire all promising employees, family and friends to spread the good word of turf. Small conversations are all that is needed for us to become good ambassadors of our wonderful industry. If you do have someone who has shown a keen interest in becoming a turfgrass manager, please connect with with Cam Shaw at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 1 519 824 4120 x52784.
Diploma in Turfgrass Management Program (DTM)
The DTM program continues to be the premiere turfgrass management program available at the University of Guelph. Currently our first year students are working diligently to complete their first semester and pursue their co-ops and internships. Some will go abroad, some will travel across Canada and of course some will remain local here in Ontario. The second year class is also grinding out the last few weeks before they move on into their post-graduation positions. It is always a bittersweet time to watch our students graduate - sorry to see them go, but proud to see them move on and realize their own potential. Before we know it, a new crop of students will be knocking on our doors in September. In what has been widely considered a sharp decrease in young people pursuing careers or education in turf, it is more important than ever for industry professionals, academic institutions and professional turf associations to make every effort to ensure we have outreach efforts, programs and events in place to ensure we are connecting with today's youth. This will ensure stronger enrolment in turfgrass programs, and greater numbers of students moving into these vacant positions. It is a win-win for everyone.
Turfgrass Outreach Project 2020 (TOP)
In 2017, the GTI released the Turfgrass Outreach Project (TOP). The primary mandate of TOP was to:
1) Reach out to younger generations of Canadians and expose them to discussions, activities, and workshops designed to engage them in turf-based career paths, educational opportunities and the overall benefits of turfgrasses.
2) To offer basic knowledge and understanding of turfgrass management practices in order to better equip an motivate community stakeholders to sustainably manage their own lawns and shared public greenspaces.
3) Reach out to the public in order to educate them on environmental and community benefits of grasses and greenspaces in order to ensure that the Canadian public is being exposed to a positive voice that speaks to the environmental and community benefits of turf.
Since its inception, the TOP project has reached over 1000 high school students, more than 200 teachers and guidance councillors, and countless community stakeholders. As this program moves forward, we will continue to engage with students and all community members, however our experience has been that the major influencers will become a primary area of focus for the TOP moving forward. Groups like teachers, guidance councillors, the Master Gardeners Associations, community sustainability associations, and municipal leaders will continue to help spread our messages in our absence - which helps us reach a much broader range of individuals and perpetuate our message and priorities across multiple generations.
As of four weeks ago, the GTI had 5 outreach events planned between March and the end of April. Regretfully these have all been cancelled due to the recent COVID-19 pandemic. We are saddened by this temporary interruption of the TOP program, but are optimistic that it will resume immediately once the social distancing programs can be relaxed. Please stay in touch as we begin to reorganize our outreach events planned for the remainder of 2020 and into 2021. If you are interested in becoming engaged with TOP or would like to begin an outreach program of your own, we would love to hear from you. Be sure to send your inquiries or comments to Cam Shaw at email@example.com or call them in at 1 519 824 4120 x52784.
Research Field Day 2020 - August 11th
We are currently in the process of planning our Research Field Day for August 11th of 2020. At the moment, we have no reason to believe that this event will be cancelled or postponed. More information will be released shortly as planning continues. As for now, we ask that you make note of the date in your calendars and inform your staff and colleagues who may be interested in attending. It would be wonderful to have all sectors of the industry at the GTI together to tour our research trials, product trials, and see some equipment demonstrations. Lets all keep our fingers crossed that this event will carry on as planned.
The GTI Diagnostic Clinic will not be accepting any samples until at least April 6th 2020. We apologize for this temporary interruption of service, but with the U of G's operational changes due to COVID-19, we have suspended all non-essential staff from their stations. Please stay tuned to the GTI Twitter account @GuelphTurf for regular updates on when these services will resume.