Aug. 18 2011 12:34 PM

IA Viewpoint... A New Emphasis on Education at IA

Education has long been one of the pillars upon which the Irrigation Association has stood. In fact, IA’s vision is to be the authority on irrigation. To achieve this vision, IA strives to be the source of quality industry education and to offer a thorough portfolio of industry education resources.

You probably already know that IA offers education classes and seminars both online and at various IA events such as our annual Irrigation Show, Innovations in Irrigation Education Conference and Point of Connection Contractor Summit.

But in the past 12 months, IA has laid the groundwork to build a stronger educational program. Our members continually say how important education is to them, and IA is dedicated to helping them advance their knowledge and skills.

Education became one of four key strategic initiatives in the association’s strategic plan in 2007.

Subsequently, in 2010, the Irrigation Association Board of Directors charged a task force to examine the industry’s education needs. It analyzed IA’s role and what we need to do moving forward. In December 2010, the education task force recommended that more resources be dedicated to education, including the hiring of a full-time education director.

A New Direction

I joined IA this spring to serve as that education director. I’m charged with driving the development and execution of a new association educational plan. The objective is to deliver higher quality content and materials to Irrigation Association members, nonmembers, college and university instructors and students.

As a longtime industry professional, IA member and university professor and administrator, I believe I will bring the balanced perspective our educational program requires.

I started my industry career at Rain Bird Corporation, and I’ve worked as a consultant since 1980. I am not only a member of IA but a lifetime technical member. In 1994, I was thrilled to be honored with

IA’s Person of the Year award. And I’ve served on the Irrigation Foundation’s Board of Trustees since 2006.

But I also have decades of experience working for educational institutions. For 20 years, I served Michigan State University in a variety of roles, including professor of biosystems and agricultural engineering, director of the construction management program and founding director of the School of Planning, Design and Construction. Most recently, I was the assistant dean for the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources where I led the implementation of college programs in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. I’ve also held teaching positions for the universities of Nebraska, Tennessee and Minnesota.

Education Development

In 2008, the Irrigation Foundation was granted responsibility for content development tasks to improve the quality of irrigation education available and to streamline the development of the many educational resources previously published by the association. This move aligned with the Foundation’s goal of ensuring an educated pool of professionals entering the industry, and it expanded its scope to include education development for those already in the industry.

Both the IA and Foundation boards agreed that in order to best execute the findings of the 2010

task force, development and distribution of all educational content should be returned to the Irrigation Association. This will allow the Foundation to focus on its core goal of promoting careers in irrigation. In moving education back to IA, the association will increase its ability to advance industry knowledge and build toward its vision of being the authority on irrigation.

Better Education Resources For You As

IA’s new education director, I will focus on creating a long-term plan for IA’s education program. I will direct content development and updates of existing books, texts and classroom materials in the coming months.

Ultimately, this improved education program will give you better resources and more current information to ensure that this industry develops highly educated irrigation professionals focused on water use efficiency. Please contact me if you have any feedback that you think would improve IA’s education program:; 703-536-7080.

IA News and Events...

IA Members: Enter the Smart Marketing Contest Smart Irrigation Month may be over, but IA is ready to promote YOU for your efforts to spread the word! All IA members are invited to submit their promotional efforts to our Smart Marketing Contest.

Winners will be recognized in both the agriculture and turf/landscape sectors with a special recognition category for small companies. Entries will be judged by a neutral panel on messaging, quality and creativity.

All contest participants will be recognized at the 2011 Irrigation Show and on the IA website. Winners will be recognized at the 2011 Irrigation Show General Session, showcased at the Smart Irrigation Month show briefing and featured in IA publications.

To enter, complete the 2011 contest entry form and submit samples or photos of your promotions. The form is available at

Smart_Irrigation_Month/Smart_Marketing_Contest.aspx or

Entries (forms and samples) are due August 31 to

Irrigation Show and Education Conference Registration Opens This Month

The annual Irrigation Show and Innovations in Irrigation Education Conference is featuring new irrigation seminars and education classes in addition to technical sessions and certification exams.

New in 2011 will be one-hour irrigation seminars designed to reinforce irrigation industry best practices. They will cover concepts, implementation and “how-to’s.” IA-certified professionals will earn one continuing education unit for each one-hour session attended.

Education classes will focus on practical skills and applications. The technical sessions provide a forum for sharing research findings, best practices and cutting-edge products and ideas that promote efficient irrigation. All education opportunities will be offered in separate tracks for both agriculture and turfgrass and landscape professionals.

The center stage area on the show floor will again highlight contractor business sessions along with IA briefings. The exhibit hall will include a pond and waterscape pavilion as part of the International Professional Pond Companies Association’s INFO TANZA event.

The exposition runs November 6-8 and the education conference runs November 3-8 at the San Diego Convention Center. Registration opens this month. Visit for more details.

Are You Familiar With New Independent Contractor Rules?

Are you a sole proprietor? Do you use tools owned by the general contractor on a worksite? You may be in violation of new independent contractor rules. To learn more about this important issue, visit and click on “Independent Contractors Face Challenges at the State Level.”

The mission of the Irrigation Association is to promote efficient irrigation.

For more information, call 703-536-7080, write or visit