I am a non-traditional student at Ohio St. University-ATI in Wooster, Ohio. This year, at age 59, I decided to take some time and reinvent myself with a life-long dream of sports turf management. I am originally from Texas where I was a science teacher and football coach. After that, I spent time in Kansas as an assistant principal/athletic director. I moved to Ohio when my wife was hired by OSU.
Since then, I have become interested in all facets of the turfgrass industry. From May 1 through Aug. 10, I have been working at Poaceae Farm, Old Court in County Wicklow, Ireland. Here I help manage research greens, operate various tractors, mowers and implements, help with herbicide and insecticide trials, maintain and aid in the production of sod with current fields in production and establish new fields of production from seeding to harvest. I love to travel, meet new people and experience new cultures and this internship will give me the best of both worlds.
In my time here so far, I have honed my skills using a triplex mower on the research greens and I am getting experience driving a Lamborghini tractor. This machine is amazing. It is your typical farm tractor, but it also can limit the PTO to drive mode for safety reasons. The blades on the mower will not turn unless the tractor is moving.
During the farm’s recent weed and herbicide trials, I learned precision application chemicals using gas canisters, the importance of proper walking pace, wind speed and properly cleaning and disposing of unused product. The best practices here parallel to what I have been taught in my classes under Dr. Ed Nangle and Dr. Zane Raudenbush at ATI. These best practices include establishment and fertility rates, the control of weeds and pests and the proper use and maintenance of turfgrass equipment.
The main difference is the use of chemicals and their availability here in Ireland. Herbicides are typically not used here. Subsequently, Poa annua is trying to take over the research plots. Its unique color is just as obvious here, too.
Dublin is a beautiful city and the people are very down to earth, reminding of the folks back in the Midwest. They are friendly and willing to help when you walk around with a puzzled look on your face or just have a question. The public transportation system here is efficient, and has made trips into Dublin quite easy. The bus ride from the farm is about an hour to the city center. One of the first things I noticed is the buildings are not very tall. I had trouble finding any taller than about 10 stories.
I like beer, and enjoying a Guinness in an Irish pub has been a bucket list item for a while. You don’t have to walk very far to find a pub or a Guinness, so that has been scratch from my bucket list.