2018 Keynote Speaker
Paul J Long has challenged the traditional corporate landscape in sales and service beginning in 2004. He has leveraged this experience and his ability to connect with others for the last decade to engage audiences around the globe. With his fun-loving attitude, infectious spirit and philosophy of "fundamism," Paul has provided memorable experiences for countless engagements including but not limited to workshops, trade shows, keynotes and more. His shenanigans have been featured in media outlets like ESPN, the Washington Post and even the Wall Street Journal! Years ago, while working for a conservative call center in the highly conservative industry of insurance, Paul had a conversation with a manager and several other employees. "Are you always this upbeat and optimistic?" asked one of the call center employees. "Give it time," retorted the manager, "this place will get to him." From that day forth Paul decided not to allow experiences to shape others but rather motivate and engage others to create memorable experiences for themselves.
2018 Iowa Turfgass Conference Speakers
2018 Iowa Turfgrass Conference Speaker Biographies
University professor of turfgrass management, Iowa State University, Department of Horticulture, Ames, IA, and adjunct faculty, Department of Agronomy, Iowa State University, Ames, IA. Dr. Christians received his B.S. from the Colorado State University school of Forestry in Ft. Collins, Colo., and both his MS and Ph.D. in Agronomy from Ohio State University, in Columbus, Ohio. His research centers on fertility management of turfgrasses and the development of natural herbicides for use in the turf industry. He is the author of more than 1100 published articles, extension publications, research reports and journal articles on the subject. He has received a number of awards for teaching, research, and advising and holds the rank of University Professor at Iowa State University. Dr. Christians is very active with the turf industry locally, nationally and internationally and presents information each year on his research at a variety of industry related events, including an annual field day at Iowa State and a winter turf conference held in Des. Moines, IA. He is currently co-chair for the North Central Extension and Research Activity for turfgrass association (NCERA-221) and is helping to plan the annual meeting at Iowa State University.
Horgan’s research interests focus on soil fertility and plant nutrition, fate and transport of pesticides and nutrients, water conservation strategies, and low-input turfgrass systems.
In addition to his participation in various state and regional turf conferences within the United States, Horgan has taught soil fertility and plant nutrition in Sweden, Turkey, Hong Kong, China, and New Zealand.
He has been a faculty member of the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America since 2006.
Jeff is a member of the Rotary Club of Ames and serves on the Board of Directors of the Ames Foundation (a non-profit organization dedicated to tree planting in Ames, IA), Iowa Arboretum, Brenton Arboretum, and in his spare time he is an ice hockey referee and an avid cyclist.
Besides maintaining an extensive research program, he serves on the Arkansas Turfgrass Association Board and as chair of the Turfgrass Science Division of the Crop Science Society of America. In addition to participation in numerous state and regional turf conferences across the United States, Karcher has lectured in Spain, Germany, Italy and Thailand on various topics including water management, foliar fertility and soil cultivation. He has been a GCSAA faculty member since 2008 and enjoys raising two boys and playing tennis in his free time.
Professor and Extension Entomologist, Iowa State University Department of Entomology. Dr. Lewis is responsible for outreach education on insect pest management in horticultural crops, households and structures and is a specialist in the ISU Plant and Insect Diagnostic Clinic.
Dr. Lewis is the instructor of the online, beginning entomology course for non-majors and is a co-instructor in Turfgrass Pest Management and Tropical Crops Pest Management that travels to Costa Rica every other year.
Dr. Lewis is an instructor in the Iowa Master Gardener Program and a regular contributor to the Iowa Public Radio Talk of Iowa Horticulture Show.
Isaac Mertz earned a Bachelor's degree in Horticulture with an emphasis in Turfgrass Management from Iowa State University in 2012. He is currently a graduate research assistant at Iowa State University, working towards a Master's of Science degree. His research is focused on the evaluation of different turfgrass species for their nitrogen use efficiency and ability to biologically inhibit nitrification.
Ben Pease is a PhD student under Dr. Adam Thoms at Iowa State University. Ben graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a Soil Science degree, emphasis in turf management, in 2005. He was an assistant superintendent in Minneapolis before going back for his Masters Degree in 2008. Ben graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison again in 2011 with a Masters in Horticulture, emphasis on reducing stressed turf inputs. After that, he was an assistant superintendent at Whistling Straits, Straights course, and then managed North Carolina State University's turf research station. In his free time, Ben trains for and competes in Ironman triathlons. Under Dr. Thoms, his research focus is on golf course turf.
Casey Reynolds is the executive director for Turfgrass Producers International (TPI), an association that represents turfgrass producers throughout the world. He received his Phd in Turfgrass Science from North Carolina State University. Prior to joining TPI he was an assistant professor at Texas A&M University from 2013-2017 and a turfgrass research associate at NC State University from 2003-2013. He is passionate about promoting the benefits of turfgrasses and the role they play in our daily lives.
Dr. Frank Rossi is an Associate Professor in the School of Integrative Plant Science at Cornell University in New York where he teaches a variety of plant science courses.
He is responsible for pesticide safety education and implementation of integrated pest management principles for homes, schools, child cares, businesses, aquatic sites, forests, right-of-ways, greenhouses, and landscapes (trees, shrubs, and turfgrasses). Mark also responds to ornamental and forest pest insect inquiries and is on the Iowa Emerald Ash Borer Readiness Team.
As coordinator of the School Integrated Pest Management program at Iowa State, he has conducted pilot programs focusing on the interior school environment, as well as athletic fields and ornamental landscapes. Mark has worked as a team member for implementation of school IPM in Colorado, Indiana, Missouri, Nebraska, and South Dakota. These activities are intended to help schools re-think their pest control policies and cleaning procedures to eliminate unnecessary exposures for children and staff to various pesticide products.
Neric Smith is an Associate Professor of Landscape and Turfgrass Technology at Indian Hills Community College in Ottumwa. He also serves as the Horticulturalist for IHCC and oversees many projects for the college. Smith was previously with Iowa State University Extension serving as a statewide Commercial Horticulture Specialist and a County Extension Director in Jefferson County. Prior to joining ISU Extension, Neric spent five years as an Assistant Superintendent for Veenker Memorial Golf Course in Ames. He has also served as an Adjunct Instructor for Des Moines Area Community College. Neric holds both a Bachelor's degree in Horticulture with an emphasis in turfgrass management and a Master's of Agriculture degree from Iowa State University.
Assistant Professor specializing in Commercial Turfgrass Management, Iowa State University, Department of Horticulture, Ames, IA. Dr. Thoms received his B.S. from Iowa State University, and both his M.S. and Ph.D. in Plant Sciences and Plants, Soils, and Insects from the University of Tennessee. His research interest includes golf, athletic field performance and safety, residential, commercial and municipal turf applications, sustainable turf management. He is the Turfgrass Extension Specialist for Iowa. He is active in the turf industry not only in Iowa but also nationally.
Tim VanLoo, a certified sports field manager, is the manager of athletic turf and grounds at Iowa State University. Tim came to the Athletic Department in March 2010. Previous to Iowa State University, he was the Associate Director of Facilities / Agronomist at Northwestern University from 2007-2010. Tim received his Bachelor's of Science and Master's degrees at Michigan State University in Crop and Soil Science with an emphasis on turfgrass.
Lynda Wightman has worked for Hunter Industries (an irrigation equipment manufacturer) since 1984. During those 34 years, she has held positions in sales, education, and training. Lynda is currently Hunter's Industry Relations Manager, assisting with the company's specification efforts worldwide; education opportunities for sales; allied association representation (strength being focused on water conservation, specification, and sports turf). Her education background is in Ornamental Horticulture, Landscaping, and Irrigation. She is involved in various industry associations including STMA, NALP, ASLA, Irrigation Foundation, IA, NIAAA, NRPA, ASBA, and ASIC, and many regional chapters of these associations. Lynda lives in Missoula, Montana, and enjoys teaching others about efficient irrigation practices. Lynda enjoys fly fishing, gardening, canning, and is an excellent cook.