Dedicated to Better Turf Through Research and Education
How the Wisconsin Turfgrass Association Came To Be
The Wisconsin Turfgrass Association (WTA) began in 1981. Nine dedicated turf professionals came together to form the 501(c)3 non-profit organization. David Payne – Payne Sod, Inc, Ed Devinger – Reinder’s Brothers, Egon Herrmann – Loft Seed, George P. Brandt – Brandt Sod Farms, Inc, George R. Brandt – American Sod, James Huggett – Long Island Farms, Marshall Scheibe – Scheibe & Scheibe Landscape Contractors, Monroe Miller – Blackhawk Country Club, Thomas Harrison – Maple Bluff Country Club realized that to solve local turf problems, research needed to be done locally. Their first goal was to fund research at the University of Wisconsin – Madison to study turfgrass problems that challenged Wisconsin golf courses, sod farms, cemeteries, commercial grounds and home lawns. The second goal was to distribute those research findings to all turfgrass professionals to help them grown healthier turfgrass and care for the environment. That is where they came up with their mission statement: “Dedicated to Better Turf Through Research and Education.”
The WTA relied heavily on the turfgrass professors at the University of Wisconsin – Madison. They gave us research findings that many turfgrass professionals are still using today. Before the WTA was founded, Dr’s Robert Newman, Gayle Worf, James Love and Charles Koval had to drive around the state looking for places to install and maintain research. Seeing the need for a research vehicle, they purchased a truck for the Professors to use for their research. In 1991, with guidance and assistance of Emeritus Dean Leo Walsh, the WTA built the O.J. Noer Turfgrass Research and Education Facility so they could conduct their research at a central location. Once the building was complete, they gifted it back to the University of Wisconsin – Madison.
Understanding that education is a strong component of the WTA’s mission statement, they held their first Winter Turfgrass and Greenscape EXPO (now called Research Day) in January of 1982. The first EXPO was held at the public events building at the Arlington Agricultural Research Station, just north of Madison. Arlington also served as host to the inaugural Summer Field Day in 1983. In 2007 the WTA hosted the National Sod Growers Association national conference along with their own Summer Field Day at the O.J. Noer Turfgrass Research and Education Facility.
In addition to annual dues, the WTA came up with some annual fundraisers. Summer Field Day and Research Day feature the research currently being conducted while raising money to support that research. A more fun and relaxing fundraiser is the annual Golf Outing. It is held at golf courses around Wisconsin in the Fall. It gives people in the turfgrass industry to enjoy a round of golf at a course they maybe would normally not golf at while raising money to support the research they utilize on a daily basis.