From January 19-21 2016: I attended, for the first time, the Sportsturf Managers Association (STMA) Conference in San Diego, California. At first, I was skeptic going to the trip with the fact I had not been on a airplane for a long time and never been to a conference out of the state of Ohio. Fortunately, I overcame my fear of traveling on a airplane from Columbus, Ohio to San Diego, California. After landing on Tuesday night, Wednesday was the big start to my experience at STMA conference. I first attended the Women’s Forum at the Manchester Grand Hyatt Hotel. During this forum, I was surprised on how many women were at the meeting and also contribute to the turfgrass industry. In the forum, we talked about the themes in the book Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg, who is the COO of Facebook. After the forum, I received a free copy of the book to read.
After the forum, I meet up with the rest of my group from the OSU Turf Club. The other reason I went to STMA was to be part of the STMA Student Challenge Group representing Ohio State. We gather and settle down before taking the long walk from our hotel to the San Diego Convention Center attending sessions and the opening ceremony of the STMA conference for the year. With all the free food and drinks being served outside of the convention center after the ceremony, I had the opportunity to meet my future bosses for my internship at Arsenal Football Club, Steve Braddock and Paul Ashcroft. I was nervous on meeting Steve and Paul in person, but we talked for about more than half an hour on a variety of topics. During that night and throughout my time at the STMA conference, I have met with many men and women from many different states and countries.
On Thursday, it was the Student Challenge Day. I have studied a little bit for the challenge, but I felt confident on doing well on the exam. Fortunately, the majority of the guys in the club have taken many of the turfgrass classes already and made things easier. I felt proud that I at least answered a few questions on the exam. After the challenge ended, all of the guys and me went to the tradeshow floor to look at the different products and business on the tradeshow floor. I helped Pam Sherratt put together the poster for the Turfgrass Online Courses for Ohio State. I even had the opportunity to talk to a few people who were interested in the program, and students that were already taking the courses at the time. After the tradeshow floor, we went out for dinner and had a good time in the Gaslamp District after a busy day at the STMA conference.
Friday was the last day at the STMA conference for me before leaving on a early flight back to Ohio on Saturday. The results were posted from the Student Challenge and we placed 8th out of 15. We were not in the top three, but at least we did not place last. After walking around San Diego and catching up on homework during the day, all of us were getting dressed for the award ceremony and went over to the Manchester Grand Hyatt Hotel for the finale of the conference. It was nice to wear my Calvin Klein dress to the award ceremony and a good end to a wonderful experience at the conference. It was empowering of the special guests that spoke during the ending ceremony. I really did not want to leave San Diego, but reality hit me at 4am on Saturday as I was gathering my stuff and heading to the airport on a flight back to Ohio. Back to the cold and snow….
Overall, I enjoyed my experience at the STMA conference. I can’t wait to go to the conference again next year in Orlando, Florida! What I liked most about the conference was expanding my connections to other people in the sports turf industry. I recommend anyone, no matter if you are in the industry of sports turf or another profession, to take the opportunity to attend a conference related to your field. It can help you in the long run meeting new people and other opportunities that you would never expect.