Dr. Gerald Arkin: The College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Turf Team, without a question, is one of the best in the country. And if you don’t know that already, by the end of the day, you certainly will. If it’s not one of the best, in my mind’s eye, it is absolutely the best. It is comprised of faculty, staff from not only the Griffin Campus but from the campuses of the University in Athens and Tifton as well. There is a team of scientists and Extension workers on the three campuses that pull together and work closely with the industry. The success of the turf program of the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences comes from that very close working relationship, the close collaboration, the close partnershipping between faculty, staff and industry across the board. And that collaboration goes on, essentially, every single day. The thing that I know you will enjoy the most today is the science-based information; the creative discoveries that go on every single day here and throughout the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences related to turf industry. Today, you are going to get to see the cutting-edge science breakthroughs that have transpired since the last time we had a field day here. It would be a sorry day if I didn’t tell you that I couldn’t see into the future or that we didn’t have a vision for the future. There are two things that I want to say about what I see for the future. I see that this industry – this important industry – as important as it is today, the significance of it tomorrow even greater – dramatically greater – whether it’s making a greater impact in environmental issues, the quality of our life or the contributions to the economics of this state, I think the potential is there and I see it and I believe it. An important element to make that happen is the fact that the faculty, the staff and the industry need to have the facilities to meet the needs of the future. We just simply don’t have appropriate greenhouse space that we need to have; the offices, the laboratories, importantly – meeting areas and conference areas – where you folks can get together with our faculty and staff and decide on what kind of research, what kind of Extension and outreach is necessary, so you can be successful. And that’s our dream for the future and we’re working on that plan as we move forward tomorrow.
Dr. Beverly Sparks: Good morning. I’d like to welcome you to the Griffin Campus. This is a very special place to me. About – I hate to even say this – about 35 years ago, I came down this road with everything I owned in my car to work as a graduate student here on the Griffin Campus and this has been a very special to me since then. I was very fortunate to be a member of the Turf Team for about 17 years. So I always enjoy coming to Griffin and attending Turfgrass Field Day. If you just turn around and look in that direction, there have been so many advancements and so many improvements in this facility since I first came here as a student. I’m always, sitting on the stage, amazed at what we have accomplished here. I think Dr. Arkin is correct; we do have some outdated facilities here that we need to work on but I’m always impressed with the work. And also, as you look across that field and you think about the work that goes on here in Griffin, that goes on in Tifton, that goes on in Athens, it does not just impact the southeast but, Commissioner Black, it impacts the entire world. We can be anywhere in the world and talking about turfgrass and the University of Georgia is going to come up.
Dr. Robert Shulstad: We’re extremely proud of our researchers just as we are of our Extension faculty. University of Georgia research program in the College of Agriculture is ranked #4 in the nation – across everyone. The Turf Team is second to none. The efforts we are putting in, the intellectual property we’re producing at the University of Georgia, almost 70% of all the intellectual property – the licenses, the patents – that are developed by the University come out of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.And the majority of all the royalty dollars that each of you pay when you buy some of our patented varieties come to the University through the College of Agriculture inventions. So it’s a huge impact we’re having; not only, as Beverly said, in Georgia but worldwide. We’re extremely pleased that we’ve added Gerald Henry – he’s in the group somewhere this morning. He’s our newest member of the Turf Team. We now have exceptional faculty, as Beverly said, on the Griffin, Tifton and Athens campuses. We are going to be expanding our teaching programs to provide expertise not only for golf course superintendents but facilities, such as the Atlanta Braves and all those football and soccer programs around the world, that look at natural grass as the foundation for their livelihood.
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