Plant & Soil Science Concentration
American culture is rapidly changing, as most Americans have more leisure time and increased discretionary spending than ever before. As consequence, more and more Americans are seeking lifelong recreational activities to fill their free time.These include such things as golf, camping, softball and other outdoor sports. This has increased the demand for new and better facilities to accommodate these needs. If you consider just the golf industry, there are over 26 million golfers playing an estimated 20,000 golf courses throughout the country. A new or refurbished course opens each day and there is an average of 300 new course construction start-ups each year.As a result, the turfgrass and landscape industries are rapidly expanding fields. There is over 50 million acres of turfgrass in the United States alone, representing one of the fastest growing segments of US agriculture. It brings to the American economy over $40 billion annually.Home construction and sales are at all-time high and, with the emphasis on using more turfgrasses in road construction, for soil stabilization, in the landscape and on athletic fields and playgrounds, the demand for qualified turfgrass and landscape managers has never been greater.
American culture is experiencing rapid change and most Americans have more leisure time and discretionary income than ever before. Consequently a growing number of people are interested in playing golf. This has resulted in a sharp demand for more golf courses, in both urban and rural settings. New golf courses are rapidly being built and this has resulted in a corresponding increase in golf course management positions.The turf industry is also rapidly expanding as new golf courses are being built and established ones are entertaining more golfers and need to be maintained. In addition, a tremendous demand for turfgrass has resulted from new road construction. New building construction, along with an increased emphasis on using turfgrass as a fast efficient way to stabilize soil and beautify landscapes, has increased turfgrass demand. Playing fields for football, soccer, baseball and softball also use turfgrass, as well as playgrounds and parks. At UTM, students are able to participate in numerous experiential learning experiences to better qualify them for the industry. Facilities include demonstration turf grass plots for both warm and cool season grasses and a regulation putting green that is maintained by students as a learning experience.
Supervised field experience, or an internship, is available for academic credit. It is required of all students in park and recreation administration, agricultural business, agricultural science production and plant science programs, and strongly encouraged for students in all other agricultural and natural resources management degree programs. Internships are designed to enable a student to obtain credit for completion of a prescribed program of work with an approved business or agency. Students have served as interns in a variety of agricultural
management and marketing positions and as interns with a variety of city, state and federal agencies.Supervision and evaluation are provided by faculty and on- the-job supervisors. An essential element of this program is that the work experience be designed so it contributes to a student’s learning and level of competence in his/her chosen career area; routine summer jobs or seasonal employment that do not meet these criteria cannot be considered for internship credit. Students interested in the program should apply for participation one semester in advance and they should have achieved senior standing at the time the work experience begins in the case of park and recreation administration – and junior standing in the case of other concentration areas..
Today’s turfgrass, golf course and landscape industry is greatly different from that of the past. Once a profession open to only the golf course superintendent, now jobs are available in many other sectors.A person with the formal turfgrass and landscape management training is likely to be found managing all types of facilities ranging from athletic fields, to those that own a lawn care/ landscape business, nursery and greenhouse operations management or owning/ operating a sod farm to those in many areas of academia. Government agencies, management companies as well as many in the private sector all provide excellent employment opportunities for those dedicated to turfgrass and landscape maintenance and culture.
Agriculture and natural resources management students are active in several organizations which include the Aronomy Club, Alpha Gamma Rho, Block and Bridle Club, Collegiate FFA, Collegiate 4-H, National Agribusiness Marketing Association, Park and Recreation Adventure Club, Equestrian Team (Athletics), Rodeo Team (Athletics), UT Martin chapter of the Wildlife Society,Student Cattlemen’s Association, UT Martin Turf Club, Sigma Alpha and UT Martin Pre-Veterinary Club. These student organizations provide opportunities for meeting established professionals in the field, enhancing leadership skills and participation in social activities.Teams composed of students enrolled in agriculture or natural resources management annually participate in intercollegiate contests in livestock judging, crops judging, horse judging, NAMA Quiz Bowl,SAEA Quiz Bowl and soil judging. Instruction and coaching are provided by faculty members and membership on the team is based upon participation and competitive performance in practice exercises. The teams have received awards in regional and national competition. They provide excellent opportunities for interested students to sharpen their evaluation skills. Equestrian competition is also available to interested students through the UT Martin athletics program.
The UT Martin Agricultural and Natural Resources Field Teaching and Demonstration Complex, located adjacent to the campus, is utilized as the lab farm in the department’s teaching programs. Together, both units comprise 680 acres and include herds of beef cattle, sheep, goats, horses and swine, as well as greenhouses and landscape, wildlife, field and forage crop demonstration areas.These facilities are used by faculty and students to conduct research that complements the teaching program as well as contributes to the broad objectives of the Center of Excellence.The organization outlined above enables students to become familiar with research conducted at the teaching farm, other experiment stations of the UT Institute of Agriculture and other laboratories of the university. UT Martin, in this way, occupies a unique position that differentiates it from other institutions.UT Martin also has the Ned McWherter Agricultural Complex (pavilion and stalling facility), an Equine Center, West Tennessee Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory and the Ray and Wilma Smith Livestock Merchandising Center, with all of these hosting a variety of events throughout the year.
Dr.Wesley Totten (firstname.lastname@example.org) is an Assistant Professor of Plant and Soil Science and specializes in turf grass and golf course management.