Speaker responds to questions prior to upcoming lawn seminars
, 2015

Speaker responds to questions
prior to upcoming lawn seminars

by Cathie Ward

Professor Mike Goatley, Ph. D.,  of Virginia Tech will be the featured speaker at the Northern Neck Master Gardeners’ Lawn Seminar August 23.

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Mike Goatley, Ph.D.

The seminar will be offered from 9 to 11 a.m. at the Transportation Building, Rice’s Hotel/Hughlett’s Tavern, 73 Monument Place, and from 1 to 3 p.m. at Westmoreland County School Board Meeting Room, 141 Opal Lane, Montross.

Dr. Goatley recently addressed written questions about his role as an educator, how he came to specialize in the field of turfgrass management, and why it is important to reach out to homeowners and lawn care professionals about environmentally sound practices.

NNMG: How did you come to specialize in turf management?

Dr. Goatley: I grew up on a farm in central Kentucky and, while I enjoyed working outdoors, I knew I did not want to farm for life. I took a turfgrass management class as an elective at the University of Kentucky very late in my undergraduate career, hence I needed a lot of additional study to understand this area of science after getting into the area so late. 

A master’s at the University of Kentucky and a doctorate at Virginia Tech followed, although I never had any career aspirations growing up to do so. I knew right away that I wanted to study this area further because it combined my desire to get outdoors and be hands on working with turfgrasses and soils with a passion for sports.

NNMG: What is your role at Virginia Tech—do you teach courses?

Dr. Goatley: My primary responsibility is statewide development and implementation of educational outreach programs for all areas of turfgrass management. I maintain an active research program that focuses on applied strategies in environmental stewardship in turfgrass management through cultivar evaluation, improved establishment and maintenance methods, and urban nutrient management. 

While I have no teaching appointment, I teach a capstone class, Integrated Turfgrass Management Systems, for senior students in the fall semester.

NNMG: Why do you do these seminars—what do you enjoy most about them?

Dr. Goatley: As far as my annual job evaluation goes, I suppose that these types of seminars are probably not ranked very high on the priority list of my supervisors because the focus and specificity of my job is designed to serve the needs of turfgrass industry professionals.

However, I appreciate the fact that Virginia Tech and the Virginia Cooperative Extension (VCE) allow me the opportunity to offer these training programs because I feel very strongly that I can make a difference in protecting the environment one yard at a time.

I value Master Gardeners and interested do-it-yourselfers, in particular as a very important part of my turfgrass outreach program because they can help get the word out on responsible lawn care strategies to far more people than I will ever reach.  I also enjoy these types of programs because I am meeting people from all walks of life and not just turf industry professionals. Folks will get a little taste of how their Master Gardener volunteers, their area VCE agents and staff, and I can assist them in a variety of ways.

Cathie Ward is the communications chairman for the Northern Neck Master Gardeners.

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