From Rob Au to Adam Zubek - 2018 Conference Speaker Bios and Session Synopses

Here's the complete list of 2018 WCTA Conference and Trade Show speaker bios and session descriptions including the pre-conference seminars.

Opening Keynote, Travis Lulay, BC Lions - 'Demands of Turf at the Very Highest Levels'

Lulay has spent his entire CFL career with the BC Lions, appearing in 117 games, throwing for 17,165 yards and 104 touchdowns.  He led the Lions to a Grey Cup championship in 2011, being named the Grey Cup MVP and he took home the CFL Most Outstanding Player award that same season.  The 34-year-old from Aumsville, Oregon, understands the value of turf at the highest levels and part of his presentation will relate playing field conditions to his own career and experiences.  

Brenda Robinson, Robcan Group - 'Generations in the Workplace'

Brenda is a speaker, trainer, writer and consultant. She is the founder and president of The Robcan Group. Her Bachelor of Arts was earned at Brandon University and her Masters of Education at Simon Fraser University. She has been addressing groups for over thirty years about communications, humour, laughter, positive working skills and wellness in general. Her workshops and presentations are in high demand. She has authored four books and created an Audio CD set to help people to develop these skills.

Today's world is different. This can present your organization with a challenge or a chore - the choice is yours. What can we do to encourage intergenerational involvement? Have we joined the "I" generation? Are we isolated, insulated, independent, individualized and sometimes even indifferent? 

What about the new generations? What motivates younger people to join in the work we do? What can we do to maintain the energy, enthusiasm, enjoyment and excitement of our group? Is the new era difficult - or just diverse in ways of thinking and doing? 

Working together works when we work at it!

Dr. Micah Woods, Asian Turfgrass Center - 'Turf Conditions and Optimal Efficiency (MLSN)' & 'Just What the Grass Requires'

Dr. Micah Woods is the chief scientist at the Asian Turfgrass Center.  Growing up in Oregon, his father was a golf professional so it was natural to be surrounded by the game.  At seventeen, he got a job on a golf course in Portland, which was his first foray into turfcare.  “I found it fascinating to prepare the golf course for play, not to mention the fact that I could be on it for hours on end,” he stated.  Currently, Woods lives in Bangkok, Thailand, travelling frequently to study, advise, and teach about turfgrass management.  He is the co-developer of the MLSN soil nutrient guidelines for turfgrass and will be discussing this innovative approach to turf fertility issues.

Every turfgrass manager knows that temperature, light, water and fertilizer will influence the growth rate of the grass. Because the growth rate and adjustments to it, are what finally produce the desired playing surfaces, it is critically important to understand how these factors can be adjusted. It will discuss how the influence of air temperature, photosynthetic light, plant water status, and leaf nitrogen content can be thought of and communicated as a grammar: the fundamental principles or rules of an art or a science. The result of this process is better turf conditions in a systematic way that optimizes efficiency of the work.

Learning Outcomes:

Recognize the effect of growth on turf conditions
Air temperature on growth
Photosynthetic light on growth 
Plant water status on growth
Leaf nitrogen content on growth
How to apply the principles to optimize efficiency

Tab Buckner, Sports Turf Canada President – ‘Synthetic Turf Safety Certificate Course’

Tab is the Manager of Parks Operations for the Township of Langley, Past WCTA President and the current Sports Turf Canada President.

This one day Sports Turf Canada course will be of interest to those who manage or maintain synthetic sports turf and to those who wish to develop additional knowledge and skills in this subject matter.  

Topics Include:

How synthetic turf is made
What makes a quality synthetic turf surface
The construction of a synthetic sports field
Synthetic turf lifecycle and recycling
How to test your field for optimal performance and safety
Learn the precautions you need to take for extreme cold and heat
Learn what equipment is needed to properly maintain your field
Risk mitigation
Gmax math
Field safety best practices
Game day best practices
How and when to groom your synthetic turf field
Sport specific performance

This course includes a written exam. Participants must achieve a minimum passing grade of 75% to be awarded a Sports Turf Canada Certificate of Successful Completion.

Mario Lanthier, CropHealth Advising & Research - 'Fate of Pesticides in the Environment with workstations’ (4 hour pre-con seminar) & ‘REI's and The New IPM Manual'

Mario Lanthier has been a popular speaker at WCTA, CGSA, ISA and other conferences over the years, and has been teaching the BC Pesticide Applicator Certificate course at the WCTA conference since 2003.  He has been working in the horticulture industry since 1980 and his company, CropHealth Advising and Research, offers consulting services and pest management recommendations with or without pesticides.  

The 4-hour pre-conference seminar is broken down into 2 hour segments.

Part 1 – Classroom lecture focusing on the fate of pesticides in the environment:

The environmental fate of pesticides depends on the physical and chemical properties of the pesticide as well as the environmental conditions. The physical and chemical properties of the pesticide determine how likely it is to travel through soil (soil mobility), how well it dissolves in water (water solubility), and how likely it is to become airborne (volatility).  Once a pesticide has been released into the environment, it can be broken down by:

exposure to sunlight (photolysis)
exposure to water (hydrolysis)
exposure to other chemicals (oxidation and reduction)
microbial activity (bacteria, fungi, and other microorganisms)
plants or animals (metabolism)

Part 2 – Participants will rotate through several action stations in small groups performing multiple tasks such as sprayer calibration, nozzle uniformity assessment, donning ppe, label comprehension, pesticide use calculations, spill clean-up and more.   

‘REI’S’ (1 hour) Over this past summer, there has been much confusion in the BC golf industry regarding the actual amount of time needing to pass after applying a pesticide before re-entering a treated area.  This session will focus on both the requirements of Health Canada (read the label) and Worksafe BC.

The BC Ministry of Environment funded a new online IPM resource for Turf Manager’s in BC.  This ½ hour session will provide an overview of the content within the new guide.

Dan Dinelli, North Shore Country Club - ‘Proven Golf Course Superintendent’

Dan Dinelli, CGCS is Superintendent at North Shore Country Club near Chicago, Illinois, a course that regularly hosts PGA events like the 2015 Encompass Championship.  Dan is a third-generation superintendent known for innovative thinking.  Having received the President’s Award for Environmental Stewardship, he is also known for helping create kinder, gentler golf courses through an advanced combination of plant genetics, physical, chemical, cultural practices and biological systems to enhance soil and plant ecology under a sustainable framework.

A 2013 Golf Channel interview epitomizes the many articles and presentations focussed on his continual improvement in developing a systems approach to soil & plant health while delivering high level playing conditions.

Increased media and public attention focused on the golf industry is often negative and we find ourselves answering more and more questions like those faced in the Golf Channel interview.  On the bright side, it’s an opportunity to expound the value of turf and those who manage it, whenever possible.  Tied into the conference education theme of ‘What is the Value of Turf?’, when Dan talks about birds nesting on a golf course, the high level outcome is that golf courses have enormous value in providing wildlife habitat in urban settings.  

“I often thought of Superintendents as Resource Managers,” said Dan Dinelli in an email chain discussing his presentation subject matter.  “That ties into natural resources and "best use" of resources,” he added.  

Larry Gilhuly, USGA - 'USGA's Awesome New Golf Facility Management Tool'

Larry, seen in the right of this photo during a ‘First Green’ pilot event in Canada, has consulted with hundreds of golf courses on agronomic, playability, management, environmental and every other conceivable issue faced by golf course superintendents, boards and owners.  He has been associated with the game of golf since 1959 as a player, caddie and golf course maintenance worker and has been ‘piling it on’ for the USGA Green Section for the past 15 years as Director of the Western and Northwest Regions including Western Canada

The United States Golf Association has invested in a powerful new software tool that dramatically improves the ability to manage golf properties.  Combined with dataset input such as labour rates and fuel costs, a GPS generated property map is populated with golfer tracking data using data loggers provided to individual golfers.  The imagery produced shows exactly where golfers are frequenting the property, allowing out-of-play areas to be considered for less or no maintenance, thereby saving or allowing the option to re-direct valuable resources. 

Nick Broad, English Lawns - 'How Best to Sod a Sportsfield' & 'How Best to Sod a Golf Green Complex'

Nick Broad, a.k.a. “ The Sodfather “ came to Canada 30 years ago & soon after started  English Lawns as a lawn installation company. Since then English Lawns has become the largest sod installer in Western Canada having installed sod on over 200 playing fields & over 100 golf courses either using Big Roll sod installation machines or with regular small rolls of sod.

One of their more interesting projects was Big Rolling extra thick sod on top of the artificial turf at Empire Field in Vancouver for a one off game between Manchester City & the Vancouver Whitecaps & then having to remove it all before the B.C. Lions played a couple of days later.

In Alberta he has a partner Matt Leboldus & in B.C. he has Simon “The Surgeon“ & his son Elliott running the office whilst Nick is happiest on a job laying sod & telling everyone how fast he was 30 years ago.

What turf manager hasn’t laid sod?  Surely a simple task yet results are varied and the finished product doesn’t always live up to expectations.  These 2 sessions will outline in detail what kind of preparation and execution it takes to ensure large scale sod jobs are done correctly.

T-Jay Creamer, Victoria Golf Club - 'Google Forms and the Power of Data Collection for Turf Management'

The Victoria Golf Club can be considered an ‘early-adopter’, embracing technology that has taken turf quality and playability to the next level while saving money and resources.  Their industry leaving vision has set the stage for positive wholesale change in terms of the old saying ‘you can’t manage what you can’t measure’.  Assistant Superintendent, T-Jay Creamer, will share their process in a whole new way to collect data for this purpose.

Google forms is a powerful but simple tool that anyone can use.  Learn how to setup and exploit this cloud based app to streamline your golf maintenance operation in ways you never thought possible.

Dr. Bradley Smith, Dean emeritus, Huxley College - 'Golf Courses are the Lungs of our Cities'

Brad served as the Dean of Huxley College of the Environment, Western Washington University from 1994-2012.  Prior to his appointment as Dean, he had served as the first Director of the Office of Environmental Education for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.  He also served as a Special Assistant to the administrator of the EPA and as Acting Associate Administrator for the EPA.  Brad was appointed to the U.S. Senior Executive Service in 1991.  He received his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan School of Natural Resources and the Environment.

Are large urban areas of turf found on golf courses, sportsfields and parks of value besides the immediate recreational benefits?  The simple answer is yes, turf has tremendous environmental value that has gone almost completely unnoticed outside the professional turf management industry.  This presentation will help turf managers understand these benefits better so they may pass the good news along to members, users, the public, media and government to ensure managed turf is given the environmental credit it deserves.

John Coleman, Advanced Turf Technology Infinicut - 'Your Mower Hasn't Changed for Forty Years'

John is the founder and inventor of the ATT ‘InfiniSystem’ of turf mowing and grooming.  His background is firmly in greenkeeping, from being an award winning Greenkeeper to consulting on golf courses.  All of his ‘ATT ideas’ have come from this experience.  He has been influenced a lot by working with, and talking to, various Head Greenkeepers.  After years of developing this range of fine turf maintenance equipment John seems almost satisfied with where the products are today but …… his mantra is “whatever you do, do it well” and he will no doubt be continually improving the designs.

It is not a simple process to get a concept through to production and out into the market – John admits he didn’t realize how much was involved and how long it would take – around 2 years.  “First we had to conceptualize it,” he says, “then you have to do research; produce a design; make a prototype; put it through testing; work out what you need to sell it for; cover yourself with patents before you can even start to produce it in quantities and launch it in the marketplace.”  John will share some of the process that resulted in an entirely new line of mowing and grooming equipment available to turf managers.

Bill Deacon, New York Mets - '55 Years of Baseball History from a Turfgrass Perspective'

When Bill Deacon was offered the position of head groundskeeper for the New York Mets in 2006, he found himself in the unique position of overseeing the Shea Stadium grounds before it was razed in 2008 and supervising the construction of Citi Field before it opened in the Spring of 2009.  Helping him prepare for these challenges was his prior experience, 8 years at a golf course on a Canadian Forces Base in Germany, working on the University of British Columbia athletic fields and gardening crew, 2 years as Head Groundskeeper with the Long Island Ducks, 3 years in different roles with the LA Dodgers, and 2 years as assistant groundskeeper with SD Padres.

If it’s anywhere we see the value of turf, it’s the hallowed ground of Major League Baseball fields.  Bill will bring valuable and specific learned lessons from challenges of field construction to management practices at the highest levels, including things he would do differently.  He’ll also take a little different approach, providing a little bit of history on the evolution of baseball field quality from the turf’s perspective.  

Gary Bartley, UBC Athletics - 'Exciting New Practice Facility for Vancouver Whitecaps FC'

Gary Bartley is the Head Groundsperson for the University of British Columbia Athletics & Recreation Department whose mission is to engage their community in outstanding sport and recreation experiences, to enable UBC athletes to excel at the highest levels, and to inspire school spirit and personal well-being through physical activity, involvement, and fun.  The venue also happens to be the new training base for the Vancouver Whitecaps, called the National Soccer Development Centre built in partnership with UBC and the BC government, and home to BC Lions practice sessions.

The Whitecaps FC National Soccer Development Centre (NSDC) at the University of British Columbia, built in partnership with UBC and the Government of British Columbia, features a three-storey, 38,000 square feet state-of-the-art fieldhouse; a design partnership between BBB Architects, internationally recognized sports architects, and Acton Ostry Architects, an award-winning architectural firm based in Vancouver. In total, the multi-campus NSDC also includes seven fields – two artificial turf fields at Simon Fraser University, and five (three grass and two artificial turf fields) constructed, refurbished, and improved fields at UBC.  Gary’s talk will focus on his experience through the construction and ongoing maintenance of this exciting new facility.

Chelsea Eby & Rob Au, BC Ministry of Environment - 'IPM Regulation Follow-Up'

Chelsea completed her Bachelor of Science at the University of Victoria where she became hooked on entomology while working co-op jobs in the field of agricultural insect pest management.  Following graduation from UVIC, she continued to work in the agricultural pest management field in BC and in England.  She went on to complete her Master of Pest Management at SFU where she investigated visual and olfactory cues used by the Apple Clearwing Moth to locate food sources.  Chelsea then worked as a research scientist for Semios, a start-up company integrating wireless technology with pest management in the agricultural tree-fruit sector.  She is now an IPM Officer for the BC Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy based out of the Surrey office.

Rob Au is the IPM Licence Officer with the BC Ministry of Environment & Climate Change Strategy. He works to ensure pesticide certification material is up-to-date and that individuals and businesses have the appropriate pesticide authorization. In his previous role in municipal government, he has had experience in invasive vegetation control with emphasis on using biological control options. Rob holds a M.Sc. in Biological Sciences where his research addressed how trees respond to and record climatic variations in central Canada. He has written scientific articles, technical reports and currently writes IPM educational material for those studying to become pesticide applicators or dispensers.

New IPM regulations came into effect July of 2016 however approximately 50% of BC golf courses remain non-compliant, specifically, with the licensing requirements.  This presentation will walk through the factors leading to the new regulation, its requirements and how to ensure your facility is in compliance.

Conner Olsen, Oregon State University - 'How Best to Irrigate - It's Time to Rethink Deep Watering'

Conner first graduated from Oregon State University with an Honors B.S. in Environmental Engineering and a well-rounded understanding of environmental science, particularly as it relates to water quality and quantity issues.  He found that one of the recurring methods for mitigating water quality issues was through the use of engineered wetland systems which got him thinking about utilizing his engineering skills for the design/renovation of golf courses, as their local hydrology often resembles wetland systems.  

He has spent the last couple of years as a graduate student and research assistant at Oregon State University under the tutelage of Turfgrass Specialist, Dr. Alec Kowalewski, and Senior Researcher, Brian McDonald.  His master’s program included optimizing irrigation rates and frequencies for the Willamette Valley, the construction and assessment of two types of rainwater-harvesting systems (low-energy-input & high-tech), along with a look into the effects of using greywater for irrigation of various perennial ryegrass cultivars.

The concept of deep watering, was heavily promoted and accepted during the 1990’s as the best way to irrigate intensely managed turf, especially sand-based rootzones.  New research, spurred by increasing water restrictions, suggests this may not be the case.  This presentation focuses on research currently underway at Oregon State University suggesting the more frequent the water, the better.

David Holden, Canada Food Inspection Agency - 'Japanese Beetle Detected'

Among other things, the Canada Food Inspection Agency is charged with preventing the spread of invasive insect and weed species into Canadian eco-systems.  

Dave Holden is currently the CFIA Western Area Survey Biologist where he oversees all biological surveys for plant health in covering BC, AB, SK, and MB. He graduated from Simon Fraser University with a degree in Biological Sciences, following up with a Masters of Pest Management in Entomology.  His main interests are in the surveillance for invasive pests, the faunal inventory of the Lepidoptera of BC, and taxonomy of the Tussock moths (Lepidoptera: Erebidae: Lymantriinae).

This talk is an opportunity for attendees to learn more about threats associated with invasive species to human health, food safety and the environment.  On that note, CFIA has detected the highly invasive Japanese beetle (Popillia Japonica) in the False Creek area of Vancouver, British Columbia (BC).  This presentation will focus on the biology of this pest and how to recognize it. In addition, he will discuss the JB survey and the detection in Vancouver and follow that up with information on how to report it if it’s found.

Karen Bailey, Agriculture Canada (retired) - 'What is Phoma macrostoma?' (with Loius Simard, Premier Tech)

Dr. Karen Bailey’s career has focused on the development of scientific innovations that improve plant health through the management of plant pests, notably pathogens and weeds.  She trained as a plant pathologist at the University of Guelph (B.Sc. Agr., M.Sc.) before joining Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) at the Saskatoon Research Centre and completing her Ph.D. at the University of Saskatchewan. During her 31 years with AAFC, Karen became internationally recognized for her expertise on soil-borne pathogens and biological weed control, publishing more than 300 scientific papers and other types of publications as well as filing invention disclosures and patents in several countries.  She has been recognized for her research contributions with the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, CPS Outstanding Research Award, and CPS Award for Achievements in Plant Pathology, among others. Having retired from AAFC, she enjoys living on Quadra Island, BC. 

Premier Tech, an international leader in active ingredients for sustainable agriculture and horticulture, will take the lead in the final steps to bring to full scale the manufacturing and commercialization of a selective bioherbicide.  In January 2017, the Horticulture and Agriculture Group signed a license agreement with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) to finalize the development and commercialization of a product formulated from an indigenous fungus (Phoma macrostoma).

Over nearly ten years, the federal department invested millions of dollars in research on this fungus and its compounds (macrocidins), which can eliminate broadleaved weeds, particularly dandelions. This breakthrough discovery has been patented in several countries and is commercially registered in the U.S. and Canada.

Peter Isaacson, CNLA - 'European Chafer Update' & ‘Safety & Environment’

Peter Isaacson is a horticulture industry consultant serving as the CNLA’s National IPM / Minor Use Coordinator.  He has a Bachelor of Science Degree from the University of Victoria and a Master of Pest Management from Simon Fraser University.  Peter’s specialty is working on IPM and pesticide issues for ornamental horticulture.

European chafer - The European chafer is an invasive species first found in the Vancouver area in 2007.  The insect pest has spread, causing widespread damage to lawns, boulevards, parks, sportsfields and golf courses.  Peter will provide an update on how far the insect is spread, control measures and what can be done in advance of an infestation.

Safety & Environment – Renewal points for this category of pesticide recertification are often tough to get.  We won’t be able to cover everything in an hour but subject matter within this heading can include:

 • pesticide labels and label comprehension
emergency response (first aid, spills, fires)
protective clothing and equipment
effects of pesticides on the environment
safe procedures for storage, transport, mixing, application, cleanup and disposal

Stan Woods, Metro-Vancouver Water Authority - 'How Cities Manage Potable Water Demand'

Stan Woods is a Senior Engineer with the Policy, Planning and Analysis Division of the Water Services Department at Metro Vancouver.  Since 2000, Stan has played a key role in developing and updating the drinking water plans for the region, including the Drinking Water Management Plan and the new Drinking Water Conservation Plan.

Clean drinking water is not an unlimited resource and is being regulated on a more frequent basis.  Those who are responsible for managing potable water are required to balance supply with seasonal demand and limited infrastructure.  As an industry requiring large water volumes during peak demand, turf managers will gain a better understanding of the challenges water utilities are facing in supplying the needs of all stakeholders.

Panel Discussion Moderated by Mike Whalen, CSCM - 'What is the Value of Turf in Times of Drought?'

Two irrigation industry experts, a research scientist and a municipal policy analyst will discuss the need for water conservation and strategies the turf management industry currently uses and can undertake to better manage this resource.  The underlying theme or question identified in the title can also be asked as ‘Is there a way to keep our turf alive when water is being seriously restricted?”.  Moderated by Mike Whalen, Canadian Society of Club Managers Association.

Jason Pick, Olds College and Stan Kazymerchyk, Kwantlen University – ‘Introductory Turf Management Workshop’ 

This 3-hour session designed for front-line staff needing better turf management knowledge to perform their daily roles, is being delivered by the lead instructors of Olds College and Kwantlen University.  For years, both institutions have delivered industry leading programs in horticulture/turf management each with a long list of successful alumni excelling in the areas of golf course and sportsfield management.

Special Working Lunch hosted by Stan Kazymerchyk, WCTA First Green Representative - 'How to put on a First Green Event'

First Green is a very special outreach program that teaches grade school kids about STEM learning (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) using golf courses, and even sportsfields, as a classroom.

It’s no secret golf superintendents have a lot on their plates and while it takes a little bit of effort, those who have hosted a First Green event have nothing but good things to say.  Not only does the golf course provide an excellent backdrop for real-life learning lessons that can be customized to the students’ current curriculum, the opportunity and benefits of engaging the community are immeasurable.  Gratification is instant and while many supers have been a little nervous at first, it doesn’t take long to realize talking about one’s passion comes relatively easy.  In about an hour and a half, Stan will outline and coach you through all the necessary steps to host a First Green session at your facility.

Special Working Lunch Organized by Cam Watt, WCTA Director & Hosted by Adam Zubek, Point Grey Golf Club - 'Get Ready for the Next Step in Your Career'

A graduate of Penn State University and a huge proponent of life-long learning, Adam Zubek takes great pride in constantly growing himself and those he has the privilege to serve.  With over 15 years of experience in the club, golf and hospitality space, he has gained a wealth of knowledge and insight into all facets of the game and club business.  

Originally from Montreal, Adam has spent his career associated with some of North America’s most esteemed private clubs.  He is currently the General Manager and C.O.O. of Point Grey in Vancouver,  an eighteen-hole golf course and country club that is currently in the process of revitalizing its 1922 layout and developing a strategic plan for the future of the club.  Adam and his wife Lindsay live in North Vancouver BC with their two kids Sadie and Walter.

Here’s an idea, why don’t we enlist a well-respected, smart and experienced industry leader who has risen through the ranks to help those seeking to ‘climb the job ladder’ by providing some career insight and direction in an informal and interactive session?  Good idea Cam, can you get on that?