Joey Young received a grant from the USDA-NIFA to help educate STEM educators on turfgrass science.
Turfgrass is everywhere.
It's in yards, parks, stadiums and golf courses. It surrounds office buildings, fills medians and helps beautify campuses. However, turfgrass is often overlooked, both as a part of the landscape and as a potential career path.
Texas Tech University's Joey Young, an associate professor of turfgrass science in the Department of Plant and Soil Science, within the Davis College of Agricultural Sciences & Natural Resources, is hoping to change that.
Young recently received a $425,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA-NIFA) to conduct professional development for agriculture and science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) educators centered around turfgrass science.
“Our goal is to work with educators to provide professional development on how turfgrass science could be implemented as STEM,” Young said. “One of the benefits we pointed out in the proposal is the vast openness there is to turfgrass. Almost every student in any place could have some kind of interaction with turfgrass.”
Young's project is designed to give teachers the tools and knowledge needed to add elements of turfgrass science to their curriculum, first by hiring teachers to develop integration methods, and later by implementing professional development events in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, Lubbock and Amarillo.
By bringing in teachers from across the state and tying turfgrass science to STEM education, Young hopes to increase diversity in turfgrass science, a broad field that offers many career paths.
Young believes including turfgrass science in some high school programs will expose more students to opportunities they may not even know exist.
“We're currently not tapping into a group of people who could have a lot of interest and be effective at the job,” Young said. “So, the idea is to teach the science behind managing turfgrass systems - whether it's golf, athletics, a park or something else entirely - and then also to share stories of individuals from various backgrounds who found success in the field. We want to highlight their careers and successes and shed some light on opportunities that are available through turfgrass science.”