ITIConferenceLogo.jpg
2023 ITI Conference Logo.png

2023 Keynote Speaker

Quinlan.jpeg

Major, USMC (Ret)

Sean Quinlan 

2023 FEATURED SPEAKERS

Our featured speakers are some of the brightest individuals across the country in turfgrass management and research. These high-profile speakers will present top trends impacting the turfgrass industry. Learn more about each featured speaker by scrolling over their image and selecting their bio.

JNR III head shot (2).jpg

Dr. John N. Rogers, III 

Michigan State University

Reicher1.jpg

Zac Reicher 

Technical Specialist, Green Solutions Team

Kerns photo.jpg

Dr. Jim Kerns

North Carolina State University

SESSION SPEAKERS

The following individuals represent turfgrass institutions and industry professionals from across the state of the Iowa. Learn more about these individuals by scrolling over their image and selecting their bio.

Christians_Nick.jpg

Nick Christians, Ph.D.

Iowa State University

Thoms_Adam.jpg

Adam Thoms, Ph.D.

Iowa State University

Picture1.png

Andy Kellner

Iowa Department of Natural Resources

David Marks_bio pic_2021 copy.jpg

David Marks

Iowa USDA Wildlife Services Program

IMG_20190627_175410 copy.jpg

Jeff Iles

Iowa State University

SPEAKER BIOGRAPHIES

53fb50c6b47dd.image.jpeg

Major, USMC (Ret) Sean Quinlan

Born into a large family and raised in Scottville, Mich., Major Sean Quinlan took on the role of “leader” from an early age. Enlisting in the United States Marine Corps in December 1985 and starting out as Private First Class, Quinlan quickly moved up through the ranks — to Lance Corporal, Corporal, Sergeant, Meritorious Commission to Second Lieutenant, Captain, and finally Major in October 2006. His deployments include Operation Support Democracy in the Caribbean; Operation Native Fury in Kuwait; Okinawa; Operation Crocodile in Brisbane, Australia; and Operation Iraqi Freedom in Iraq. Major Quinlan received many personal decorations over his 26 years and nine months serving in the United States Marine Corps, including but not limited to, the Bronze Star (with Combat Distinguishing Device “V”), Meritorious Service Medal; Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal x3; Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal x3; and the Combat Action Ribbon, Good Conduct Medal x3. Major Quinlan is “a natural leader who is exceptionally adept at influencing others to get the mission accomplished,” stated General Austin E. Renforth of the United States Marines. “He personally led and motivated his company to accomplish amazing tasks, even in the most trying of times.” This sentiment would echo throughout his military career and beyond.

 

Retiring from the United States Marine Corps in 2012 to spend more time with his family, Major Quinlan still felt the calling to lead and accepted a teaching position at Des Moines North High School as the Senior Marine Instructor of the Marine Corps Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (MCJROTC). While there, Major Quinlan coached the Polar Bears football team and led the team to their most wins since 2008 – a hard-fought victory considering that North is one of Iowa's most underprivileged high schools. His work with the team was even featured on an episode of ESPN's, “Outside the Lines.” Under his leadership, his players improved academically as well – becoming academically eligible to play and improving their overall grade point averages. “He believed in us when no one else would,” stated Lah Htoo, a senior lineman in 2016. “He gave us hope.”

 

Since his retirement from teaching and coaching in 2017, Major Quinlan has toured the country as an inspirational public speaker. With his many real-life experiences and his extensive knowledge of good leadership, Major Quinlan is able to connect to a crowd on a personal level – whether it be speaking to a group of 1,000 or 20. He has given motivational and inspiring speeches at colleges, leadership summits, public schools, athletic conferences and banquets, among many others.

 
 

Nick Christians, Ph.D.

Nick Christians, Ph.D., is a professor of horticulture at Iowa State University. He earned his B.S. degree at Colorado State University and his master's and Ph.D. at The Ohio State University. Christians’ research focuses on turfgrass fertility, weed control, growth regulators and naturally occurring herbicides for the turf industry. His university appointment consists of a blend of teaching and research. His excellence in the turfgrass industry has been well-documented through the numerous awards, including  the Iowa State Horticultural Society Honor Award, an appointment to the Musser International Turfgrass Foundation Board of Directors, the Fred Grau Turfgrass Research Award from the Crop Science Society of America, the Distinguished Service Award from the Iowa GCSA and the Meritorious Service Award from the Iowa Turfgrass Institute.

In addition to his participation in many state and regional turfgrass conferences around the United States, Christians has lectured on basic turfgrass management in Spain, Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong, Italy, Germany and Japan.  He has been a GCSAA faculty member since 1983 and he enjoys spending time with his grandchildren.

 
JNR III head shot (2).jpg

Dr. John N. Rogers, III 

Dr. John N. Rogers, III (Trey) is a Professor of Turfgrass Management in the Department of Plant, Soil, and Microbial Sciences at Michigan State University.  He has been on the faculty there since 1988.  He is a native of Arkansas and grew up working at Hardscrabble Country Club in Fort Smith, Arkansas.  He received a B.S. in Agronomy at the University of Arkansas in 1982 and then returned to be an Assistant Superintendent at Hardscrabble Country Club 1982‑1983.   He returned to the University of Arkansas and earned M.S. in Agronomy in 1985 and received his Ph.D. in Agronomy from Penn State University in 1988. Since 1988, he has advised and graduated over 1100 students. 

 

His current turfgrass research interests at MSU include performance turf renovations, turfgrass establishment and soil modification.  Since 2012, he has assisted with over 20 golf course renovations.  Starting in 2020, he began consultations with Keeneland Association and Churchill Downs for Turf racecourses maintenance and renovations.

 

He served as the lead scientist for the indoor turf project at the Pontiac Silverdome for the 1994 World Cup Soccer matches and the project leader of the Spartan Stadium turfgrass conversion in 2001-02. He was a turf consultant and project leader for the 2004 and 2008 Summer Olympic Games and the 2008 UEFA Cup.   In 2021 he agreed with FIFA to assist with Research and Implementation of United World Cup 2026. 

 

His consultations on golf course, athletic field, and turfgrass matters are extensive throughout United States as well as China, Greece, Japan, Dominican Republic, Argentina, Brazil, Australia, Wales, England, and Spain. His National and International lectures and presentations total over 270, with over 230 publications and one book. 

 

He is the senior author of two U.S. Patents.  National organizations include the American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, and ASTM.  

 
Reicher1.jpg

Zac Reicher 

Zac Reicher has been a Technical Specialist on Bayer’s Green Solutions Team since March of 2015, covering all states west of the Mississippi. He spent the 19 years prior to Bayer as a professor of turfgrass science at Purdue University and Uinv. of Nebraska.  He’s been working in turf since 1980 when he started killing greens at Dyersville (Iowa) Golf and Country Club at the tender age of 15.

 
IMG_20190627_175410 copy.jpg

Jeff Iles

Jeff serves as Professor and Chair of the Department of Horticulture at Iowa State University (Ames, IA).  He teaches, conducts applied research, and provides Extension programming in the areas of landscape plant establishment and maintenance, woody plant (mostly trees) evaluation, and nursery and garden center management.  He received his B.S., M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in horticulture from Michigan State, Penn State, and Iowa State, respectively.  Between degrees, Jeff worked in the retail garden center/landscape installation segment of the green industry, first in suburban Detroit, Michigan, and later in Littleton, Colorado.  

 
Kerns photo.jpg

Dr. Jim Kerns

Jim focuses on etiology, epidemiology and management of diseases of both warm- and cool-season grasses. His research program focuses on understanding the biology of ultradwarf bermudagrass diseases, large patch of zoysiagrass, plant parasitic nematodes in turf and diseases of creeping bentgrass. The mission of the program is to provide efficacious and cost effective management strategies to turfgrass managers in NC and beyond. His program also houses the Turfgrass Diagnostic Lab, which is managed by Lee Butler.

 

Adam Thoms, Ph.D.

Adam Thoms, Ph.D., is an assistant professor in the department of horticulture at Iowa State University. He earned his B.S. in horticulture with the turfgrass option from Iowa State University, a master’s in plant science in the turfgrass option from the University of Tennessee and his Ph.D. in plants, insects and soils from the University of Tennessee.

His appointment allows him the opportunity to be involved with extension, research and teaching. Thoms’ research focuses on the performance of turfgrasses subjected to various management techniques. 

David Marks_bio pic_2021 copy.jpg

David Marks

David Marks attended the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay and received a BS in wildlife biology in 2000 and a MS in Environmental Science and Policy in 2003.  He got his start working in the field of wildlife damage management for USDA-APHIS-Wildlife Services in 2001 as a wildlife technician in Wisconsin.  In 2003, he became a wildlife disease biologist for the USDA Wildlife Services Program in Michigan, where he coordinated wildlife disease surveillance and emergency response projects.  In 2016, David moved to Saint Charles, Iowa to become the District Supervisor for the Iowa USDA Wildlife Services Program.  David and his staff focus on reducing damage caused by wildlife species throughout the state of Iowa.

 
Picture1.png

Andy Kellner

Andy Kellner has been working with the Iowa DNR Wildlife Bureau since 2011, first as a Wildlife Technician working on habitat restorations and wildlife surveys and, for the last 9 field seasons, as a Wildlife Biologist with the Depredation Program. Andy also has experience working in fisheries and research with Colorado State University and at Glacier National Park. Hailing originally from southeastern Wisconsin, Andy earned degrees in Anthropology and Conservation Biology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison (Go Badgers). Recently, he completed the Certified Public Manager course through Drake University. Andy enjoys spending time with his family gardening and cherishing Iowa’s landscape and recreation opportunities.

 
  • White Facebook Icon
  • White Twitter Icon

© Iowa Turfgrass Institute. All rights reserved.

1605 North Ankeny Boulevard, Suite 210

Ankeny, Iowa 50023-4163

P: 515.635.0306