Friday, June 6, 2014

Ireland 2014 Work Study: Part 1

Hello from Ireland. No better way to blog than sitting in a little coffee shop on a rainy day.  I have been living in the town of Naas, Co. Kildare for the past two weeks working at Naas Racecourse. I am living in the thoroughbred county capital of Ireland. The town population is approximately 20,000 and is full of unique shops and pubs to keep an American like me busy in my down time. I look forward in sharing with you a few highlights of the work I've been doing. Enjoy!

When I departed from the states on Tuesday, May 20 I had many questions running through my mind like how would I adapt to the culture, would I like who I working with, will I miss my family, what all is in store for me, who will I shake hands with or meet that will possibly change my professional career or life? As I have already had my fair share of traveling all over Europe getting to see England, France, Germany, Monaco, Italy, Greece, and Turkey before arriving in Ireland, I was confident this trip would treat me well. The flight over was absolutely beautiful as I was chasing the sun. There was not a single moment where there was complete darkness at 35,000 ft, there was always a sliver of sunlight at horizon. Flying over the grass covered hills of Ireland in the morning as the sun rose of the horizon was one of the most breathtaking sights I have ever seen. Before I knew it I had landed in Dublin, made my way through customs, grabbed my bags, and onward I went with the famous Scottish agronomist John Souter. I soon made my way out of Dublin and into the County of Kildare where I would have tea and breakfast with the lads I would be working with this summer. After discussing our plans for the summer, off I went to my accommodations.  I would stay at a glorified B&B for the next two weeks in the town of Naas, where I would work along side GM, Tom Ryan of Naas Racecourse.  

Over the next two weeks, I would work with GM, Tom Ryan of Naas Racecourse to discuss how they manage their racecourse surface, exchange ideas on their way of doing things, and give my input and knowledge on ways to improve their racecourse surface. Naas Racecourse is definitely in the right hands with the help of credible Scottish agronomist  John Souter, and James D'Arcy of D'Arcy Contracts in making steps toward a first class racecourse in Ireland. Irish horse racecourses are much different than United States horse tracks as here they are built on native prairie soil, are 100% turf, and on the natural rolling hills. This comes with many problems such as poor soil drainage and poor physical soil properties, and by all means to correct these issues you need to select the most durable and resiliant turfgrasses, and have sound agronomic practices. The scale of these courses compared the United States is much more vast in that the foreman or groundsman has to maintain anywhere from 100-300 acres of top-notch turfgrass for the four legged, 1200lb athlete that come barreling down at 30mph over the pristine surface you have prepared for race day. After reviewing over multiple soil tests from the European Turfgrass Laboratory based out of Stirling, Scotland, I could make my recommendations on proper divot mixture, sand toprdressing applications, soil cultivation, and pesticide selection.  I came up with different spreadsheets that the groundsman can utilize to advance their record keeping system, and evaluations summarizing what I observed and can be changed to help improve the racecourse surface. I also assisted in preparing the racecourse for race day, and even roll the sleeves up and clean some horse stalls. 

I want to thank Tom Ryan and his team for allowing me to work along side them to help their racecourse surface and be open to my suggestions for improvements. There is a huge disconnect between the ways we manage turfgrass in the United States and the ways they manage turfgrass here in Europe. I find it absolutely vital that we make the connect with European groundsman to network, and share ideas to build the professionalism and improve the quality of our sports fields, golf courses, and racecourses. There is no better way I feel to discover new ideas about turfgrass management than to network with people from another culture, education system, and way of life than to travel overseas and observe the way things are done here. There are many more things you learn outside of just the classroom, a textbook, or a scholarly article review you've read. The people I have met, and the ideas I have learned over many cups of tea can only help me in my professional career later down the road. I look forward in what the next three weeks bring as I transition to The Curragh Racecourse in the town of Kildare, Co. Kildare. The Curragh Racecourse is considered the best flat racecourse in all of Ireland, and I am excited to hit the ground running with foreman Pat Webb to help prepare the racecourse the for Dubai Duty Free Derby the last week in June. The Curragh Racecourse organization runs a first class operation and I cannot to begint their Monday, June 9. Keep an eye out for future blog post as I will try my best to inform you of my work study. If you have any questions on my experiences in Ireland, please feel free to contact me at
-Andrew J. Wilhelm

(GM, Tom Ryan and I)

(Overlooking 270 acres of Naas Racecourse from grandstand)

(Entrance into Naas Racecourse from Tipper Rd.)

(Parade Ring at Naas Racecourse)

(Used for almost everything around the racecourse)

(Final 3 furlongs to finishing post)

(8 furlong start)

(First B&B on Blessington Rd.)

(Main St. in Naas, Ireland)

(Church of our Lady and St. David)

(Main St. Naas, Ireland)

(Second B&B on Mill Ln.)

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Greetings from Hailey Edmondson!


My name is Hailey Edmondson, and I am a new Agronomy Ambassador. I just finished an amazing first year, and am now a Sophomore in Plant Genetics, Breeding, and Biotechnology in Purdue's Agronomy Department. I am from San Diego, but West Lafayette is now my home away from home. My academic interests include agronomy and agriculture, and I am also interested in biotechnology. I am very involved in entrepreneurship groups on campus, including the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Certificate Program and the Professional Entrepreneurship Fraternity, Epsilon Nu Tau.

This summer I am staying on Purdue's campus doing research with the Purdue iGEM Team. For anyone interested in genetics, iGEM is an international collegiate genetic engineering organization. Universities from all over use genetics and synthetic biology to create a research project to present at an international conference. The most exciting thing about the Purdue iGEM Team is that this year our project is related to Agronomy! We are modifying microbial soil ecologies to optimize nutrient uptake in plant systems. I'm very excited to keep everyone updated on this project.

Keep your eyes open for a presentation the iGEM team will be having in the fall so that other students in Agronomy can learn about the project and the different applications genetics can provide to agronomic interests.

I look forward to seeing everyone in the Fall, have a great summer!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Hello, my name is Isaac Greeson and I am a new NRES/AGRY Ambassador. I am currently duel majoring in crop science and farm management. I have been here at purdue for two wonderful years as a boiler maker. It has been the best experience of my life and I can't wait to experience the two years that I have left. This coming fall I will be here at Purdue, but in the spring I will be studying abroad in Stuttgart, Germany at the University of Hohenheim. Stuttgart is located in the south of Germany near just about everything in Europe so I am very excited to travel around to Austria, Switzerland, France, Italy, and of course explore Germany. Without the University I don't think i would ever get to be abroad for so long at one time. It will be loads of fun.

I am from Kokomo, Indiana where I live on my family's grain farm. I love being on the farm and being a steward of the land. So my plans after graduation is to return to the farm and try and improve on our farming system, there is always room for improvement and adaptation. I would like to apply some of the agricultural practices that I observe abroad to the farm here in Indiana, that's kinda why I want to travel abroad is to learn what other people are doing.

Here at Purdue I am active in the Purdue Ballroom & Latin Dance Team. I love the dance team because i get to dance and meet a wide variety of people from all over the world and in all different kinds of majors so it kinda gets me out of the agronomy department where i like to spend most of my time. We are a competitive dance team and I love the joy and satisfaction i get from competing. Another type of competition I enjoy is soils judging. I have been on the Purdue soils judging team for the past two semesters and have really enjoyed my time. Unfortunately I will not be returning to the team in the fall due to other commitments but if you like having good times with good people check out the soils team, its a lot of fun and we have the best coach and teacher Dr. Steinhardt.

My summer plans involve working on the family farm, learning german, and taking some online classes. I am really excited to be back at home this summer since last summer I had an internship with Dow Agrosciences. My internship was a great experience that I will remember forever and I think that everyone should at least do one internship during there time in college.

Well i'm going to sign off now so I hope that all of you have a fun productive summer and come back ready for classes in the fall!
This is the soils team in the fall of 2013 wining the region 3 soils contest in wisconsin. 
If anyone is wondering i'm front and center. 

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Purdue University Varsity Soccer Complex Field Renovation

Good afternoon on this beautiful 80 degree spring day in West Lafayette, Indiana. As a Turf Science & Management student and a part-time student employee of the Intercollegiate Athletics Department Sports Turf Crew, I scout out opportunities where I can employ my passion and love for this industry. Yesterday, Tuesday, May 6 I got to assist in the field renovation out at the Varsity Soccer Complex located just northwest of campus at the corner of McCormick Road & Cheery Lane. As an undergraduate student to have this opportunity to take part in this kind operation is invaluable. Not only were we renovating the field, but the way we were renovating the field is a first of its kind done on a Bermudagrass (Patriot/ Rivera ) collegiate field. This term that is used for this type of operation is called "Fraze Mowing". I will continue to go into more detail about this operation and why Sports Turf Managers choose this method.
This operation has not yet been studied at university turf research centers and is slowly but surely "sticking" with Sports Turf Managers. Fraze Mowing originated from Europe on football (soccer) pitch renovations as annual practice. A gentlemen named Jerad Minnick, President/Founder of Growing Innovations made a visit across the pond to get a first hand look on how this exactly is done. After seeing the extraordinary results it has on their pristine football pitches, he brought the idea back to the United States and gave it a try, and found the same results. The Varsity Soccer Complex is a 7 year old sprigged Bermudagrass field with a sand slit drainage system and has been sand capped over years of intense topdressing. After discussing our options for field renovation and sitting through educational seminars on the success of this operation, we concluded that this was the best route. Fraze Mowing is an extremely aggressive cultural practice that is very beneficial in supporting the health of the turfgrass. The goal of Fraze Mowing is to remove P. Ryegrass overseeding, Poa annua & weed seed, thatch/organic layer build-up, and smooth the surface of the top of the field. This operation is done by using a piece of machinery called KORO Universe Field Topmaker. It took about 9 hours to clean off the surface of the soccer field.  We will follow up with a core aerification to relieve soil compaction and sand top dress to give a good growing environment for the exposed stolons. The fertility regimen will consist of granular and foliar applications throughout the rest of the growing season. The field should be in perfect playing condition by the end of July.
Having the opportunity to assist in such a revolutionary field renovation was unimaginable in my undergraduate tenure here at Purdue University and can only help me for my future career in the Sports Turf industry. I look forward in continuing to keep you up-to-date with my travels overseas to Ireland and Scotland throughout the summer.
-Andrew J. Wilhelm


Monday, May 5, 2014

Steve Lira-2014-2015 NRES Ambassador

Hello everyone! My name is Steve Lira, and I’m a new NRES ambassador for 2014-2015! I’m an NRES major with a concentration in land resources, as well as a Spanish minor. I’m just about to finish up my junior year of school, although not at Purdue. I’m currently spending my semester abroad in Queretaro, Mexico. While I love studying at Purdue, taking a semester abroad has been an amazing and life-changing decision. I think every student should at the very least go for a Spring Break abroad, but the longer the better! I chose to study in Mexico to finish my Spanish minor, and because it’s an amazing travel destination. The history, food, and people are all incredible, but as an NRES major, the nature of this country is as incredible as it is diverse. In my four months here, I’ve gone whale watching in the Pacific, hiked in the mountains, snorkeled in the Caribbean, and explored canyons in the forest. It’s truly a surrealistic place to live and study.
            Anyways, when I’m not traveling the world and I’m back in my home state at Purdue (I grew up in Granger, Indiana, just outside of South Bend), I feel right at home as an NRES major. Ever since I was little, I’ve loved being outside, and I’ve always felt the need that humans have a right and a duty to protect the planet that we live on. One of my favorite things about the NRES major at Purdue is that it’s very multidisciplinary, as solving environmental problems requires knowledge from several different sources. I’m also interested in a lot of these different subjects, such as ecology, soil science, economics, and politics. While I’m not entirely sure of my plans after graduation, I am very interested in using my knowledge of NRES to work internationally or with other cultures, as the environment isn’t just one country’s problem, it’s everybody’s problem. Outside of my major, I'm also a member of Marwood cooperative house and a big supporter of Purdue University Dance Marathon.
            Last semester at Purdue I had a job for the botany department, working as a herbarium digitizer, which is a fancy way to say that I scanned the collection of plant specimens that Purdue’s herbarium has to make a digital collection as well. However, I’m currently working with the head of the lab that I worked under to develop an undergraduate research project for my senior year. I’m very interested in working on a project that combines microbiology (the lab’s specialty) with something that I can relate to NRES. Once I get everything figured out, I’ll be sure to let you know how it goes.

            While I could say more, I feel like I’ve rambled on enough for my first post. Anyways, I’m very excited to serve as an ambassador for the following year, and I can’t wait to take on my duties!
This is a picture of me after an incredibly difficult hike in the mountains of Mexico to see the forests where Monarch butterflies spend the winter every year. Truly an incredible place.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Veronica Yager - New NRES/Agronomy Ambassador

Hello All!

 I am very excited and honored to announce that I will be one of the new NRES/Agronomy Ambassadors at Purdue University. I am currently a freshmen majoring in Natural Resources and Environmental Science (NRES). During the my first year at Purdue I had the opportunity to be a part the the Environmental Science Learning Community, volunteer in De-Trash the Wabash and Wabash Sampling Blitz, and take part in an environmental science, animal science, and sustainability study abroad trip to Costa Rica over spring break. I am also involved in riding and showing on Purdue's Equestrian team, playing intramural sports, and I just recently got asked to live in on of Purdue's cooperative houses, Ann Tweedale.

 Choosing to come to Purdue University has been one of the best decisions that I have made. At Purdue students have the opportunity to receive a respected degree and network with individuals from all over the world. After attending a Forestry and Natural Resources Career Fair this spring, I was able to network with a lady for the Department of Natural Resources and obtain a seasonal position as a Seasonal Naturalist at Versailles State Park in Southeastern Indiana for the summer. This is very convenient because I am form a small town in Southeastern Indiana close to Greensburg. This is just one example of the many opportunities that I have gotten from choosing to further my education at Purdue University.

 I am really excited to be an NRES/Agronomy Ambassador and I cannot wait to help other students chose Purdue University in the future!

Brittany McAdams- New NRES/Agronomy Ambassador

Hello everyone! My name is Brittany McAdams and I am a junior studying Natural Resources and Environmental Science. I am very excited to be serving as an NRES/Agronomy Ambassador during my last year at Purdue.

I am from a small town in Indiana called Aurora and I live right along the Ohio river. I have an identical twin sister who also comes to Purdue and is studying Geology and Geophysics. Being outdoors is the best place to be and being able to learn about it everyday is amazing. I am a snowboard instructor and am part of the Purdue University Ski and Snowboard club. When there's not snow on the ground, I love to go out on the river with my family and wakeboard. I guess you could say that my love for being outside had a major part in me studying Environmental Science!

I always knew I'd become a Boilermaker because my dad raised me and my identical twin sister to be ones! When I first came to Purdue I was in the Undergraduate Studies Program. I stayed in this program for two years and served as a Learning Community Ambassador while I was there. I feel so incredibly lucky that I took the chance to come into the College of Agriculture and even luckier to be in the NRES/Agronomy department. I am not from a farming background whatsoever, and the fact that the NRES major was in the College of Agriculture almost kept me from majoring in it. If there is one piece of starting advice I have for all you future Boilermaker's its that you'll never know how much you love something until you try it. The NRES/Agronomy department has led me to discover where I really belong on this big campus.

This summer I will be helping Dr. Johnson in the Agronomy department by doing plot maintenance, planting, sampling, and learning the basics of his bioenergy grass research. I am really hoping this will help me when I apply to graduate schools to continue my education! That's all for now, I will be checking in throughout the summer to update on my adventures! Until next time, BOILER UP!

Here I am on the Athabasca Glacier on the Icefields Parkway last summer in Alberta, Canada