As part of the TOCA Professional Development Committee's mission to provide in-depth content to TOCATalk, we will highlight members on this page.
Getting to Know Jill Odom
by Courtney Mullen, Xylem Marketing
Jill Odom is editor of Total Landscape Care magazine, based in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Read on to learn about Jill's many interests - taekwondo, cage diving with sharks, and much more!
(Editor's note: beginning with Jill's member profile, you'll be able to click the link to read the entire article. We're doing our part to save you from scrolling. It's all in the name of preventing carpal tunnel syndrome. Now click and read about Jill!)
The Truth about Debbie
By Sara Bojar
I was born in Ohio. My dad was a large-animal veterinarian, but he joined the military when I was three, so my two sisters and I became Air Force brats. We lived in Maryland, New Orleans, Hawaii, Washington state, and Missouri, where I went to high school and college. My parents eventually settled in the Maryland suburbs of Washington DC.
I'm proud to say I've visited all 50 states and still love to travel.
How did you get started in your career?
Armed with a degree in magazine journalism from the University of Missouri, I moved to Tallahassee, FL to seek my fortune. But it was during a recession, so I started out working as a waitress at the local Elks Club.
That job led to a connection at the Florida Dept. of Agriculture. During my interview there for an editor job, my (ultimate) boss said he wanted to hire a woman for three reasons: she could be paid less, she would help with secretarial duties, and farmers would rather be interviewed by a woman. Remember, this was the mid-1970's when there weren't a ton of professional women. I said, "Yes, I'll take the job!"
I spent three years writing stories about Florida agriculture, then moved on to the
When did you begin working in the turf industry?
Delaware Extension Service, which led to a PR job in Philadelphia handling agricultural accounts. From there I worked at PR agencies in New York, Baltimore and back in Philadelphia, where I started my own freelance writing/PR consulting business, Clayton Communications.
I was working for several chemical companies, and they often had companion turf products. One client, Aventis (a Bayer legacy company), hired me to write and produce their publication, The 19th Hole. I learned the golf industry in a hurry writing six features about golf course superintendents every month!
From there, I worked on multiple turf accounts and made it my specialty. Joining TOCA in 1994 was a turning point in forging relationships in the Green Industry. I still work in both ag and turf, offering writing, media relations, newsletter development, photography, event planning, social media and more.
What do you like best about TOCA?
Absolutely the camaraderie! I had been a part of other professional groups, which didn't necessarily embrace PR people. But I felt at home with TOCA right away, singing along to the oldies and comparing notes with editors about favorite books and movies. Of course, I like all the professional development at the annual meeting and the fact that I've gotten to know all the movers and shakers in the business through networking and mentoring.
I was secretary-treasurer for 10 years, I've served on the board for another 10 years, and I spearhead the Professional Development committee. I've only missed one annual meeting in the last 22 years, so I guess you could call me a TOCA Nerd!
Tell us about your family.
I've been married to a fellow PR professional, the wonderful Jim Talbot, for 32 years. Our son, Travis, 30, is a lawyer in New York City. I also have three older stepchildren and seven step-grandchildren. We are one big happy blended family!
What Makes Larry Tick?
Getting to know our TOCA board members
As editor in chief of Superintendent magazine and assistant editorial director of Sportsfield Management and Tree Services magazines, Larry Aylward knows a bit about turf and writing. The first winner of the TOCA Plant Health Writer of the Year Award in 2013, Larry has written about turf for 18 years. He has been a TOCA member since 2000 and has served on the TOCA Board for four years.
- Most of us know you've been a turf editor for many years - but how did you break into the business?
Omigosh, the how did I get started question! Do you have five hours? Just kidding! I got a part-time sports writing gig at a daily county newspaper that led to a full-time gig. Later, I became entertainment editor of the paper. I didn't make a lot of money, but I got to do some cool things, like cover professional sports, including golf. I also got to interview Willie Nelson on his tour bus. It was a great place to learn, especially how to write on deadline late at night. Most of the people there were really into the craft, and they were just awesome. I was fortunate to work there.
- When did you discover golf? Do you remember your first time on a golf course?
I really don't remember my first time on the course, which is probably a good thing. I love the game, but I'm just not very good at it. I love to play nine-hole rounds - alone - and just enjoy the time. And if I get a few pars and a birdie, I'm ecstatic.
- Where did you grow up and go to college? What inspired you to become a writer?
I grew up in L.A. - lower Akron - home of LeBron James, the Black Keys and Chrissie Hynde. The homeboy that I am, I attended the University of Akron, which was enjoyable. I love music, and I began writing "album" reviews for the campus newspaper. I stuck with the paper and became editor of it during my senior year.
- Rumor has it that you are a big Bob Dylan fan --- how did that come about?
I became a Bob Dylan fan in the seventh grade. This was during the mid-'70s and Dylan was putting out some great stuff. His song "Hurricane," about the framing of boxer Rubin "Hurricane" Carter for a crime he did not commit, just blew me away - from Dylan's lyrics to the song's furious pace. Dylan's views through his elegant words - from his takes on peace and love to simply living by the golden rule - have had a tremendous impact on my life. To date, I've seen Dylan live about 40 times in a span of nearly 40 years. No regrets.
(Editor's Note: Larry sang "Like a Rolling Stone" with the famed Little Chicago band at the 2008 TOCA meeting in Minneapolis and brought the house down!)
- What is your favorite Cleveland sports team and why?
The Cleveland Indians. I love baseball, and I love the Tribe. Some day, a World Series title. Some day!
- Outside of work, what do you do for fun?
I like to go my town's rec center, where I do a variety of things. I love my family and spend much time with them. Outside of work, I also like to work. It is a passion.
Getting to know the board member with the most unique nickname, Fuzz Martin.
By: Kyle Brown, GIE Media
What do you do at EPIC Creative?
As the director of PR and social media at EPIC Creative, Im in charge of all things content related. I direct a team of 15 copywriters, PR managers, and social community managers, as well as the media department.
What made you decide to join the TOCA board?
Board member Linda Beattie made a very compelling argument as to why I should join the board. Shes pretty hard to say no to, though it didnt take much arm twisting. Im proud and honored to be a member of the board. TOCA is an important part of the turf industry, and I will do my best to make sure others especially industry newcomers are aware of this tremendous resource.
How did you originally get involved in the turf industry?
My first job in the turf industry came at 13 years old as a lawn maintenance operator for Achtenhagen Services in Muskego, Wis. I worked there in some capacity every summer and winter (snow removal) until I was 21. The business side of the industry fascinated me and really helped develop my entrepreneurial skills. Its also where I earned the name Fuzz.
How did you come by your nickname, anyway?
I have a really big head. So, at age 13, in order for my football helmet to fit, I would regularly shave all my hair off with a clippers. One day, after practice, I was at work running a Scag hydro walk-behind. Usually, I could run right over the top of city water/utility caps without any problem, but one day we were running the mowers a bit shorter. I ended up hitting a water cap and shooting a metal chunk through our clients neighbors siding. I shut off the mower and my foreman shouted from the truck, FUZZY! GET YOUR ASS OVER HERE! My friends overheard him, and it stuck. After that, I used Fuzz pretty much all of the time including 15 years on the radio. Fuzz is a lot easier to remember than Mike.
What do you do for fun?
Im really big into cycling. I participate in century rides (100 miles) each year, and we live near Wisconsins Kettle Moraine State Forest, which is great for mountain biking. Most of my time away from the office, however, is spent with my wife and two daughters. That and making sure I have the best looking lawn in the neighborhood our retired neighbors put up a good fight, so I have to stay on top of my game.
TOCA Member Profile: Scott Hollister
Brought to you by the TOCA Professional Development Committee
Meet Scott Hollister, your incoming TOCA President! Scott has served on the TOCA Board for more than 5 years, and is also editor-in-chief of Golf Course Management magazine the official publication of the GCSAA. Scott joined GCSAA in spring 1998 two weeks after GIS (and in the middle of an office move). He lives in suburban Kansas City with his wife and three kids. His son is a senior at the University of Arkansas, and he has two daughters, ages 15 and 11.
Q: What made you choose journalism and then a career writing about golf and turf?
A: English and writing always came easy to me, and were subjects I enjoyed. I also had a massive love of sports, but realized I probably shouldnt bank on a career as a pro athlete, so instead started writing about it. I was editor of my high school newspaper, and then served as sports editor for my college paper. This eventually led to a career in sports writing for small newspapers in the Midwest, which I enjoyed for 10 years despite the low pay and long hours. When I heard from an industry contact about the opportunity at GCSAA, I was excited to apply, and then even more so when I landed the editor position for GCM magazine.
FUN FACT: One of my early and most memorable tournament experiences after joining GCSAA was the 2000 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach the tournament Tiger Woods won by about 15 shots. This opened our eyes to major championship golf as a primary point of interest among members, and it was exciting at GCM to play a role in transforming these to must-cover events.
Q: You must get to do a lot of travel to interesting places and events. What is a favorite memory from your time writing about the golf/turfgrass industry?
A: There are many, which is a definite perk of the job going to beautiful places and big events. Again, the one that sticks with me is the 2000 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, where I volunteered as one of the maintenance workers and met many superintendents who are still some of my best contacts. After being paired with an assistant superintendent to rake bunkers all week, the first bunker we worked Sunday was the sea wall bunker on #18. The ocean comes right up to it, and waves were crashing up along this long, narrow bunker that runs along the left side of fairway all the way to green. The sun was rising behind us, sea lions in the distance, and in a moment of clarity, I was struck with the thought, Im this stupid kid from Kansas; how the heck did I get here?
One afternoon when we werent doing bunkers, I was asked to join some supers from Bandon Dunes and fix ball marks on greens. We went to green 11, where theres a massive multimillion-dollar home overlooking the course. Theyre having a party out back, and as were working, we notice someone walking down the path towards the gate that led to course with something in his hands. As he draws nearer, we see hes carrying three beers, and the guy says, I appreciate your help making the greens look so great. Heres something to take the edge off. Again, sometimes its those little moments that stand out the most.
A: One thing all of us are constantly proud of at GCM is the level of consistency that weve been able to maintain. There are some excellent journalists and people covering this business now that werent necessarily around when I started and we have tremendous respect for the work thats done by everyone covering golf course management. We think the fact that so many invest time and resources into that work is one sign of a healthy industry. Its a changing market, with constantly evolving technologies, and that means you have to stay on your toes and keep looking to improve. We understand there are advantages to being an association publication and dont take those lightly. Our commitment is to continue delivering on our mission, creating a tremendous product for GCSAA members and our superintendent audience, anticipating their needs and maintaining their respect.
I had a stretch of bumping into famous athletes with a co-worker literally. I almost knocked Michael Jordan to the ground before a pre-season game, when he was playing with the Bulls. Were in the halls of the arena, heading to our seats on press row, and I walk right into him, Oh wow thats the most famous athlete in the world! At a Kansas City Royals game, we ran into Cal Ripken, Jr., who did an awkward dance to avoid us, and similarly, I accidentally clipped Bo Jackson when he played with the Royals.
Q: Outside of work, what are you passionate about?
A: Im a big music fan of all sorts, although I feel like I get suspicious looks these days at alternative rock concerts (Is that a cop? Who brought the narc?). Sports are a definite passion. I played baseball into college, but also love basketball, football, golf. My most recent passion, though, is English Premier League soccer (I follow Everton). I have season tickets to the Major League Soccer team in KC, and my daughter plays on a team also. About five years ago, I wondered if I could actually start following a team or league in a sport that I didnt grow up with to the point I knew the players and standings, and thanks to internet and cable its been easily doable.
FUN FACT: Most Saturday mornings Im up at 6am to watch EPL games. When I was in England in January representing TOCA at the BIGGA Turf Management Expo, I caught two matches. Jason Schmaderer and I saw Sheffield Wednesday play Bolton, and then I saw Scottish Premier League power Celtic play when we were in Glasgow.
Q: What are some of your goals for TOCA as you take on the role of President this year?
A: Ill be trying to maintain a lot of the momentum this organization has gained in recent years thanks to the folks weve been fortunate enough to have in that position most recently McGavock Edwards and Jason. It will be a bit daunting to fill those shoes. Weve made great strides as an organization representing such a diverse group of people, and one goal is to ensure we are in at least as good a place when my term is done both in the U.S. and with our overseas / UK expansion, which is something Im going to continue to be focused on.
The first TOCA annual meeting I went to was in Boston, and we got to tour Fenway Park. As a baseball fan, it was great to tour the field, pretending to catch fly balls in front of the Green Monster. Looking back, all the annual meetings Ive attended have been great experiences. I wont speak too much for the other folks who went to England, but were all honored to be representing TOCA at BIGGA, and hope it started something good for the organization beyond just going to pubs and soccer matches.
TOCATalk Profile: McGavock Edwards
By Jessica Simpson of Swanson Russell
Tell me about your current position:
I'm a Vice President with IMRE, an integrated marketing firm and the general manager of our Raleigh, NC office. IMRE is headquartered in Baltimore, Md. and we have offices in N.C., Los Angeles and New York. I'm a multi-tasking master. On any given day, you'll find me serving as a strategist, writer, coach and counselor. It's my job to make sure our clients are reaching their audiences, getting the best strategy and creative from our team, and achieving their communication and business goals.
How long have you been a TOCA member? Have you held any positions with the organization?
I've been a TOCA member for more than 12 years. Throughout that time I've had the opportunity to serve TOCA in a number of ways. We did a two-year stint as the "Awards Ceremony" agency, I led the research for and updates to our TOCA Professional Communication Standards a few years ago, and I've served as board and committee member. I'm currently in my last year as past president and serve on the branding/communications committee.
Are you involved in any other professional organizations? How do you continue to learn?
An accredited PR professional, I've been pretty active in the PR community throughout my career, both locally and nationally. Currently I sit on the Honors and Awards committee for PRSA. Over the past few years I've spent a good deal of time focusing on the integration of multiple communication disciplines (PR, social, marketing) to create successful programs for our clients. And, figuring out the best metrics and ROI is a passion. Continual learning is what I love most about this career!
Tell me about yourself outside of work.
A North Carolina native, I've never strayed too far from home. Thankfully, Raleigh is two short hours from my coastal hometown of Wilmington. I'm an only child raising an only child (Elijah, 10) with my husband, Jeff, who's a chef. Our home is typically filled with family and friends, and lots of good food and laughter.
What are you passionate about?
It could be a personal topic or something related to your career. Passions abound. I wish I had more time for helping at my son's school, working on my tennis game and writing for pleasure.
Anything unique we should know about you?
I'm an open book, so I'm not sure there's a lot people don't know. But, here goes: I'm a great shot with both a rifle and handgun. I once danced on stage with Baryshnikov. And, there's a book written about my ancestors during the Civil War. "Widow of the South" is historical fiction, so not everything's true, but it gives a glimpse into who I came from (and where I got my name).
What do you do in your free time?
Free time? What's that?
Reading any good books?
I'm getting ready to start "The Paris Wife" which is on my book club list. The club is one of the most interesting studies in sociology that I've experienced. It includes about 10 ladies with ages ranging from 30 to 65, from all different walks of life. Listening to their stories and learning from them is one of the coolest experiences in my recent history.
Do you have any future goals or aspirations?
I have no crazy aspirations like I had in my 20s (I was convinced I wanted to be the White House press secretary; glad that didn't pan out). Today I'm living a fulfilled life, with hopes to one day leave a legacy where I'm known for nurturing the best in those around me my family, my friends and my colleagues.
TOCA Member Profile: Steve Trusty
By Kyle Brown
Kyle Brown (KB): Steve Trusty is TOCAs membership coordinator, reaching out to new prospective members and pushing for our goal of 250 active members by the end of 2015. Trusty has been with TOCA for more than 24 years (and has only missed two annual meetings), and hes currently the president of Trusty & Associates though hes held quite a few titles in the green industry throughout his career.
Steve Trusty (ST): We write for a lot of different magazines, and have for many years. We write on behalf of client, do a lot of ghostwriting and photography. We do market research and general public relations work for both consumer and trade publications.
KB: Where do you live?
ST: Were in Council Bluffs, Iowa, right next to Omaha. Our oldest daughter is in Tuscon with her daughter and her three grandchildren, our son is in the Kansas City area with his family. My wife, Suz, and I have lived in this house for 38 years out in the country with four acres and a lot of wildlife. I like being out in the country with the changes in the seasons.
KB: What do you do outside the job?
ST: Were very active in our church with younger kids and drama and various other activities. Thats where we spend most of our time away from home. I teach fourth graders and my wife is a coach for fifth and sixth graders. Weve been involved in the music team and drama in costuming and directing and acting and teaching and whatevers needed.
We belong to both the Omaha Community Playhouse which is the largest in the country and the Council Bluffs Chanticleer Community Theatre. Suz and I have been involved in theatre most of my life. I was just involved in stage crew in high school. We just love live theatre and live music.
FUN FACT: I tried out for the part of Curly in Carousel, but I didnt even make the chorus which was OK, I dont mind working behind the scenes.
KB: Wow, its a shame you never got to be on stage.
ST: Well, I did sing in the Barbershop Harmony Society for 20 some years and ran their conventions. I started that just out of school until about 1991. I was a city forester and one of the tree trimmers that worked with me said, Tomorrow nights guest night for the barbershop chorus. I have to have a guest, and youre mine. And thats how it started. I sang in the chorus and I was in charge of the twice-a-year convention for the Central States District.
FUN FACT: I also managed the Sports Turf Managers Association for nine years, so Ive also done association management, and I was executive director of the Nebraska Association of Nurserymen at one point.
KB: Is there a segment of the industry you havent had a hand in?
ST: I guess my favorite part of the turf industry is just that I like seeing people enjoying what theyre doing, whether its gardening or whatever. I did a radio show for eight years because I wanted people to get more enjoyment out of gardening, a two-hour call-in show each Saturday. I never had a problem getting enough calls to fill the time. And I did Trusty Tips on TV for a number of years as well for a Council Bluffs cable station. The local ABC affiliate had me doing segments for the evening news from the spring into the summer of the early 90s. I did an hour-long show on satellite TV that was a combination guest and call-in format that went all over the world. It was interesting because I got calls from Mexico and Brazil and Germany and sometimes it was challenging to understand them but it was an awful lot of fun.
Suz and I wrote a gardening book that is still available, Easy Gardening: Tips from Garden Professionals, and Ive contributed to several other books, too. Ive written columns for the local newspaper, too.
FUN FACT: I dont blog, not yet. I think I started one, one time during a garden writers association meeting as part of a session, but I never kept up with it.
KB: So you do all that writing, plus photography?
ST: Photography started out as a hobby. But Ive done a lot of photography on assignment for the industry, and Ive won several awards. There was on July where I had the cover photo on four different industry magazines, so I count that as a point of pride.
Were also very active with the Omaha Zoo, where were part of the zoos photo club. We both do volunteer work photographing animals, events and baby births. Weve gotten in a lot of behind-the-scene things that have been a lot of fun.
FUN FACT: The toughest animal Ive ever photographed would have to be a giraffe, because theyre just so tall. Weve had some baby giraffes, where when you need to get the mother and baby together, its tough to get far enough away to get a clear shot of both. Although, Ive been to Kenya five times for mission trips and seen them running in the wild, and theyre much easier to photograph that way.
TOCA Member Profile: Jason Schmaderer
By Ciara Ahern (Global Prairie)
Jason Schmaderer serves as president of TOCA and as VP / account supervisor at Swanson Russell. He lives in Lincoln, Neb., with his wife and children, and enjoys reading, running, traveling, and spending time with his family. Jason is an experienced marketing communications strategist focused on creating high value engagement between brands and customers. An enthusiastic manager, Jason is dedicated to growing skills and expertise a passion we see him bring to his role at TOCA. But theres also a lot about Jason we didnt know!
Q: As a travel-lover, where are some of the most interesting places youve lived?
A: I've lived in Europe on two separate occasions. Junior year of college in Glasgow, Scotland and a year teaching English in Budapest, Hungary. I also turned 21 and 25 in Barcelona my favorite city.
FUN FACT: I was once chased by a mob of soccer hooligans in Glasgow, Scotland following a Celtic-Rangers match.
Q: What are you passionate about? Any favorite hobbies?
A: The two "R's": running and reading. I've been a runner since junior high many, many years ago and havent stopped since though Ive slowed down a bit (I still hold my high school mile record!). I'm also a former English major who has never fully overcome a love for literature.
FUN FACT: My first job out of college was in a taquería in Portland, Ore. To this day, I would still eat Mexican food every meal if my wife would let me.
Q: What about your dreams for the future?
A: I think my dreams are coming true one day at a time: being a 'present' father and husband, an active and engaged community member, a caring and effective manager for my work teams, and a strategic counselor for my clients.
FUN FACT: I'd also like to run a 38 minute 10k and do some more teaching and traveling.
Q: As a reading addict, are there authors/books you most recommend?
A: Im a big fan of author Michael Chabon (among many, many others), primarily because of his prose style and his ability to combine pop culture with literary fiction. My favorite book changes regularly, but in general I've always loved the great Russian novels: The Brothers Karamozov, Fathers and Sons, War and Peace, and Crime and Punishment.
FUN FACT: Im currently reading as many Denis Johnson books I can get my hands on.
TOCATalk Profile: Patti DiMucci
Ciara Ahern of Global Prairie profiles active TOCA member, Patti DiMucci.
Patty DiMucci serves on the TOCA Board, and as Marketing Communications Manager for Bayers T&O business. Patty joined Bayer in March 2011 and has been in her current role with the T&O business since Jan. 2013. An experienced marketing communications professional, Pattys strong background in the beauty industry is something she finds exciting to apply to the turf industry. Patty previously served as director of consumer promotions for Maybelline Garnier in New York and after relocating to the South for her husband worked with Ogilvy, the Body Shop, and as stay-at-home mom (where she faced all-new challenges as Brownie leader and bread-baker extraordinaire). She lives in Cary, NC, with her husband, Nick, daughter Sophia and son Donovan.
Q: What was it like to make the transition from beauty to turf?
A: There are actually many similarities between the beauty and turf industries that people might not be aware of which made the transition easier. For example, beauty is largely about formulation and application technology. The industry faces similar pressures, such as regulatory and FDA reviews to gain approvals after testing. The purpose of the products is to create beauty whether its a persons complexion or the beauty were trying to create in the environment.
FUN FACT: Beyond the similarities between beauty and turf, the ultimate truth is that marketing is marketing in that the same laws apply regardless of industry or market. By knowing your target audience, budget, goals and objectives, a launch plan comes to life naturally. This always makes me think of SNLs Shimmer Floor Wax skit (its both a floor wax and a dessert topping!).
Q: What was a favorite memory from your time working in the beauty industry?
A: I got to meet a lot of celebrities while working in the beauty industry. My favorite celebrity I ever met was Laura Prepon (from That 70s Show and Orange Is The New Black). She was my favorite because were both fun-loving redheads, and shes just like her character on That 70s Show we bonded instantly.
FUN FACT: I also met an Oscar winner once. I was at the Chateau Marmont in Hollywood, where Halle Berry was having dinner, and I literally followed her into the bathroom to meet her (we had industry friends in common). She was so sweet and breathtakingly gorgeous.
Q: Is there an success or initiative youve been most proud of in the T&O space?
A: This year the highlight of my year was Pinehurst. It was my first major tournament and the work we did with the restoration was a source of pride specific to the T&O industry.
FUN FACT: Prior to our collaboration with Pinehurst and NC State, the highlight of my career at Bayer was sponsoring a NASCAR driver I thought that was the best it could get! (Patty is a closet NASCAR fan.)
Q: I hear youre a music lover. What are your top picks?
A: My first love is Jim Morrison, and the Doors and always will be number one but I love British punk rock (the Clash, the Jam), classic rock (Pink Floyd) and alternative. My last name, DiMucci, actually relates to a famous rock-and-roll legend, Dion DiMucci (known for Runaround Sue, The Wanderer and, as part of Dion and the Belmonts, A Teenager in Love). Dion is my husbands first cousin.
FUN FACT: A little-known fact about Dion is that he was supposed to join Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper on the tragic flight that crashed during their 1959 tour (memorialized in Don McLeans American Pie). He said he couldnt justify the indulgence of the $36 flight because it was the same monthly rent his parents paid for his childhood apartment so he took the tour bus. Recently, I visited the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland and got to see Dions exhibit and all the history firsthand truly a special experience for me.
Q: Do you have any future goals or aspirations?
A: Get to Ireland and Italy before I die.
FUN FACT: Despite my last name, DiMucci, Im actually Irish, married to an Italian. I am often told I seem to be 100% of both! Perhaps its my New York upbringing that helps bring out the Italian side.