TOCA Talk – Spring 2016

TOCA Talk – Spring 2016



    Thank you for supporting the industry that supports our innovations. We take great pride in developing and bringing to market innovative solutions for weed, disease and insect control, which play an important role in everyday life.  

TOCA Talk is proudly sponsored by BASF.


GCSAA 2014 Board and Staff PhotosOur Foray Across the Pond

By Scott Hollister, TOCA Board Chair

Den Gardner, our illustrious executive director, is fond of telling the story of the first-ever TOCA annual meeting back in 1990 and the 17 people who attended that gathering in Atlanta. It’s often told in the spirit of humble beginnings, as a way to illustrate just how far our organization — now more than 250 strong — has come over the years.

It’s also been told recently to help frame our efforts to launch an international chapter of TOCA in the United Kingdom and Europe. And it’s an appropriate comparison, because while our initial work there has garnered a modest response, they’ve been responses filled with unquestioned excitement that portends a bright future ahead.

The most recent steps in TOCA’s European adventures took place in late January with a trip to the BIGGA (British and International Golf Greenkeepers Association) Turf Management Expo in Harrogate, England. I was honored to represent TOCA at that event, and had the opportunity to connect with green industry communication professionals from that side of the pond who share our enthusiasm for professional development, education and networking, and want to put the TOCA U.S. model to work there.

We continued to foster those connections in early February in San Diego at the Golf Industry Show, when several of our international friends joined us for the TOCA New Member Breakfast that took place there.

Eventually, it is our hope that the connections we are making in the UK and in Europe will translate into a stand-alone organization, much like the domestic version of TOCA. The desire for continuing education in communications, for strengthening relationships between industry editors and public relations/marketing professionals is the same there as it is here in the United States. And if we can assist in the creation of an organization that delivers those things — whether through activities during existing green industry events in the UK and Europe or through a stand-alone meeting — then I believe we can consider our foray overseas to be a success.

Our plans for the next chapter in these efforts are focused on our upcoming annual meeting in Omaha, Neb., May 3-5, efforts that will have great benefits stateside, as well, for TOCA members who are unable to attend. We are working to establish a live Internet stream of some of the presentations that will be available during the annual meeting so interested international parties can get a first-hand look at the kind of education we offer here and what can potentially be offered there. This stream will be free to view, whether you’re in London, U.K, or London, N.C., so look for more details on this initiative to come.

While TOCA’s international outreach remains in its infancy, I can tell you that all involved in trying to make it a reality are confident in our path and in ultimately successfully creating a presence overseas in one form or another. And hopefully, those efforts will spurn a whole new set of stories about the modest beginnings of a vibrant, active organization much like Den’s tale of that first trip to Atlanta some 26 years ago.

I also want to take one brief moment and thank Bayer and Jacobsen. Through Jose Milan, Bayer, and Karen Proctor, Jacobsen, they have invested in TOCA internationally and are providing some underwriting to get the ball rolling on an independent TOCA meeting in Europe – possibly as soon as the fall of this year. Thanks for believing in this vision and goal of making TOCA an international presence. If you’re a company that wants to get on the TOCA bandwagon and assist in a sponsorship, please let Den know.

I hope your 2016 is off to a great start, and I look forward to seeing you in May in Omaha.


Den Gardner, Executive DirectorSteak Your Claim – TOCA heads to Omaha!TOCA_2016Logos_fnl

By Den Gardner, Executive Director

The TOCA meeting is just two short months away as our members invade this great city on May 3-5. The theme: “Steak Your Claim” (thanks to design by EPIC Creative) will entice members as we lay claim to the best professional development meeting for Green Industry communicators in the industry.

MagnoliaCourtyardOur home during our stay will be the Magnolia Hotel, a boutique-style property near the historic Old Market entertainment district. The program of professional development, networking opportunities and the chance to reward the best communications work in the Green Industry should entice you to the great Midwest.

This year’s highlights include:

  • As noted previously, a Tuesday night reception at the Omaha Press Club. Through the membership of Suz & Steve Trusty, TOCA members will enjoy an optional reception. The reception will feature complimentary hors d’oeuvres and a cash bar. The club is walking distance from the hotel.


  • Stephen Wilbers, who had rave reviews in 2002 and 2003 as our keynote speaker in San Antonio and Charleston on b-b writing, is back for a Thursday morning presentation with a new book and great new insights into writing copy for our trade audiences and Green Industry clients.

Wilbers is a writing consultant, columnist, award-winning author, Senior Fellow at the University of Minnesota, and Fulbright Fellow. He has offered training seminars in effective writing to more than 10,000 business, technical, legal, and academic writers and to a wide variety of clients, including Mayo Clinic, Medtronic, 3M, U.S. Bank, Xcel, the Metropolitan Airports Commission, AgCountry Farm Credit Services, Cargill, Ryan Companies, Thomson Reuters, the Metropolitan Council, the Wilder Foundation, Fredrikson & Byron, the Pennsylvania Bar Institute, and the Oregon State Bar Association. And, of course, TOCA back in the early 2000s.

Wilbers teaches both written and oral presentation skills. He has also taught in the Carlson School of Management’s M.B.A. Program, the Program in American Studies, and the Program in Creative and Professional Writing. He has written more than 900 columns on effective business writing. His column appears twice a month in the business section of the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

He has published two collections of his columns–Writing for Business–(winner of a 1994 Minnesota Book Award) and Writing by Wilbers. His book on stylistic technique–Keys to Great Writing–has been described as “a writing class in a book” that “breaks down general advice on what to do into practical steps on how to do it.”   His most recent book–Mastering the Craft of Writing: How to Write with Clarity, Emphasis, and Style– is a compilation of his free monthly writing tips.

Dr. Wilbers earned his B.A. at Vanderbilt University and his M.A. and Ph.D. at the University of Iowa. For more information about Steve, please go to:

  • Telling your story through infographics. Our program committee is rounding up a panel to explore this very topical seminar on Wednesday morning. Our members asked for a workshop on this through our survey after last year’s meeting in Milwaukee. Thanks.


  • The tour group on Wednesday afternoon will feature visits to the Omaha Zoo (plus members will get a free pass to the zoo on Friday if they plan to stay an extra day) and Lauritzen Gardens. (Additional tour information.)


  • Golfers will play the award-winning and prestigious Omaha Country Club. Cost will be about $90 for green fees and cart (normally $250)! Details to come, but look for the normal fantastic array of prizes.


  • Wednesday night’s reception will also be at Lauritzen Gardens. The website describes the gardens this way: “Lauritzen Gardens is a living museum of uniqueLauritzenGardens_waterfeature four-season plant displays, maintained to the highest standards consistent with environmental stewardship. It provides memorable educational and aesthetic experiences for all. Escape to an urban oasis of beauty and tranquility to experience the glory of the garden. Discover a hidden sanctuary in the heart of the city. Relax while cultivating your mind in this living plant museum, conveniently located in the beautiful riverfront hills.”


  • After a five-year absence (and oh how the PR world has changed in five years) we are bringing back our very popular editor/PR panel to discuss how in today’s climate, editors and PR practitioners can work together to provide Green Industry audiences with the type of information they need to succeed in business.


  • Finally, our workshops will conclude with a presentation by David Crow of DCLRS in Washington, D.C. Crow is an expert in what the political winds are saying about 2016 nationally and how this will impact the Green Industry. The primary season will be mostly concluded by early May and David will have much to say about the candidates. He serves a lobbying role for RISE (Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment).

Of course our meeting will end with the annual awards banquet. Also during the two days of meetings will be our presentations of our Environmental Communicator of the Year, Plant Health Writer of the Year, our business meeting and much more.

For registration/meeting information, please go to the TOCA web site for additional information. Stay tuned for additional information in the months ahead. See you in Omaha!

Trustys will have free tickets to the Omaha Zoo for those planning to stay on Friday.


Editor’s Note:  Each month, the TOCA Professional Development Committee profiles a TOCA Member — the stories live on under the Members Tab of the TOCA Website.

What Makes Larry Tick?

Getting to know our TOCA board members

By Debbie ClaytonLarry Aylward Head Shot

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.

  1. 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. 

  1. 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. 

  1. 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.

  1. 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.2008 TOCA Mpls Band wLarry

(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!)



  1. 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 …

  1. 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.


TOCA Breakfast at GIS GIS TOCABreakfastGroup_wDen

More than 40 TOCA members gathered in San Diego during the Golf Industry Show for the annual TOCA breakfast, sponsored by Syngenta and Jacobsen.

Members received an update from TOCA Executive Director Den Gardner on a number of items, including:

  • The annual meeting in Omaha in early May – see TOCA meeting details here.
  • The communications contest – which attracts about 400 entries each year – deadline is March 15.
  • International update – several members from Europe/Asia attended the breakfast.
  • Membership – a reminder to get your dues paid soon for 2016.CindyCode2_GIS

Members also received an update from Cindy Code about Project EverGreen, the national consumer initiative to provide positive news about use of green spaces where consumers live, work and play. Cindy, a board member of TOCA, explained about two major programs of TOCA – the GreenCare for Troops program and the Healthy Turf, Healthy Kids initiative.


TOCA Contests Update

By Kristy Mach, TOCA Contest Manager

TOCA Contest MedallianThe contest deadline is March 15 for both the 26th Annual TOCA Communications Contest, and the 11th Annual TOCA International Communications Contest.

The contest showcases the best of the best in the green industry – both in publishing and marketing communications.

This is the second year using the BetterBNC platform, and it’s going smoothly. If you encounter an issue, you can either hit the Help & Support button in the upper left corner of your screen, or call me at 952-758-6340.  If it’s an emergency – and let’s face it, most contest issues are – feel free to call my cell phone at 952-843-3108.

We’re looking forward to celebrating all the entrants at the Awards Banquet on Thursday, May 5 in Omaha, Nebraska.

Quick Links:

Contest Entry Instructions

Contest Categories – US

International Contest Categories


RunnerGet Ready for Spring Running!

By Dan Gardner, TOCA Special Running Correspondent

For those of us who live in melting snow-weather states, running regularly in the spring is sometimes as much a challenge as running in winter.   There are numerous running publications that can help you “survive” the wet, but to save you some research time – here are some quick tips from running ace and personal trainer Ashley Crossman:

  1. If your running regimen was light for the winter, ramp up your miles very slowly – 10% at most each week.
  2. Be sure your shoes are ready for the spring and if not, buy yourself a new pair. You should replace your shoes every 300-500 miles.
  3. Work toward a goal . . . if new to this business, try running for twenty minutes without stopping.
  4. Make sure you have proper gear, including a water resistant jacket. Spring can be very wet. 5.  If you have seasonal allergies, consider running indoors until the allergy season dissipates.

For those new at this running game that are looking for that new pair of running shoes, don’t try to do this solo. Go to a running specialty store and have an expert sales person fit you.  This is a must because that person will figure out what type of foot you have.  This, in turn, will get you into the proper type of shoe.

And for those of you who have made the surge into full-fledged running, here are the “best” spring marathons in the United States: Yuengling Shamrock Marathon – Virginia Beach VA, March 20, 2016; Country Music Marathon – Nashville TN, April 30, 2016; Big Sur International Marathon – Big Sur, CA, April 24, 2016; Cincinnati Flying Pig Marathon – Cincinnati OH, May 1, 2016; KeyBank Vermont City Marathon – Burlington VT, May 29, 2016, Grandma’s Marathon – Duluth MN, June 18, 2016 (also happens to be my wife’s birthday.  She will not be running, however, due to two knee replacement surgeries – not at all related to running).

Finally, as always, be thinking while you run about all the ways to make TOCA the best membership association it can be and how YOU can play a part in making TOCA the best it can be. And don’t forget to mark May 5 on your calendar for the TOCA Run/Walk event. Until next time, be well, be smart, be healthy and be TOCA!


Welcome New TOCA Members!

Jeff Luke, Bioworks

Dan Augustine, EPIC Creative

Chris Mier,  EPIC Creative

Andy Parmann,  EPIC Creative

Sheilah Rossow,  EPIC Creative

Dave Katzer, Global Prairie

Caroline Pratt, Global Prairie

Sophia Wronsky, Global Prairie

Melanie Anne Sajbel, Jacobsen

William Bussler, Kohler

Carlos Toro, Turf Republic



Calendar of Events | 2016

March 15, 2016 – TOCA Communications Contest entries deadline:

May 3-5, 2016 (Tues-Thurs) 27th annual TOCA MEETING, Magnolia Hotel – Omaha, Nebraska – May 3-5.  2016 TOCA Meeting details