NERTF Conference & Show-Moving Forward Amid Challenges-

September 14, 2020 2:07 PM | Julie Heston (Administrator)

Many of you know the significance that the battle of Gettysburg had on the outcome of the Civil War.  Without that win for the Union Army, the war could have turned majorly in favor of the South.  Some of you may know what Joshua Chamberlain’s role in the battle was too.   Historians have focused on the 2nd Maine Regiment in the battle and have determined that if the Maine Regiment had failed in its assignment to protect the left flank of the Union Line, then that battle could have gone to the Confederate Army.  Fortunately, they held, even as they were outnumbered, even though the ran out of ammunition, even though they charged the confederates with empty guns with fixed bayonets while they were being fired upon.  When things were down and out, the Maine 2nd Regiment commanded by 34-year old Colonel Joshua L. Chamberlain and many other heroes dug in to face their greatest fears, then ran out of ammunition, then stood up, fixed their bayonets, and charged against all odds at the firing confederates.  This startled the enemy and they retreated.  At first, they held and then advanced their flank which allowed the rest of the battle to go in favor of the Union Army.  Without their efforts, history could have been quite different.

The civil war was an ugly time for our country.  Stories like this gives us insight that even when all odds may be against you, heroic actions, some may call miracles, are possible and can occur.  No doubt there were heroes on both sides of the line that sacrificed all that they had for their families, comrades, and leaders.  We must never forget them, especially that 2nd Maine Regiment!

Recently, we have found ourselves amidst tough times.  Today the enemy is much different, but it has certainly disrupted the lives of citizens all across our country and world.  Businesses, schools, sports, churches and beaches all are struggling in their own way.  It looks like it is going to affect even our conference and show for 2021 to the point that we believe a physical trade show will not be possible.  The foundation’s board has been contemplating what we could do as we approached the time to make this major decision.  Our analysis tells us that even though we cannot host the displays of products and machinery, that we could still partially service our industry by hosting a virtual conference.  

What exactly is a virtual conference?  In our minds it will take the form of hosted education program on a webinar on a meeting software platform like Zoom.  Attendees could watch the presentations from their home or office.  The schedule would be practically the same as we have had in Providence.  Our plans are to do one day of seminars and only one day of education sessions.  Education sessions would include: Golf, Sports Turf/Grounds, Lawn Care/Landscape and Equipment Technicians.  We plan to hold it on the same dates we had scheduled for our show for 2021.  Seminars will be held on Tuesday, March 2, and education sessions on Wednesday, March 3.  We would offer pesticide credits for applicable seminars and sessions for those who attended.  This means you would get a passcode to get into the session or seminar.  The Foundation would be able to monitor your computer to know that you have logged in.  To receive credit, you must stay logged on until the end of the full session or seminar.  Only those registered will be permitted to enter the session or seminar.   It will be different, but we believe it will work.  It will allow attendees to learn, stay up to date and to also service their pesticide credit needs.  An important benefit, as you prepare for a new growing season, will be having new information that could be critical for your success.  As in other worldwide crisis’ major adjustments have had to be made during critical times.  World War II comes to mind as so many were affected by the challenges they faced.  We look forward to a time when we can get back to more normal times and activities.  We hope you will take advantage of what we have to offer and plan to attend even remotely.

FYI, currently, the RI Convention Center is set up as a 600 Bed Corona Virus Hospital and is under contract to later this fall.  The state of Rhode Island has two of these facilities ready to service the community if virus numbers become worse and overload the regular hospitals.  We all hope these hospitals will stay empty.  It is most likely that one of these facilities will close by October 15th so long as the virus seems not to be furthering its advancement.  We don’t know which facility will return to normal activity.  The remaining one will be contracted until May 2021.  Once the convention center is returned to the convention authority, then it will take about 2 months to get it up and running again.  A second challenge includes our governor’s state restrictions.  Currently, we can only host a maximum of 25 people/room at one time.  This may change or it may not.  If this doesn’t change, our education program, not to mention our trade show would be a great challenge using multiple rooms and increased spacing.  These restrictions also affect the hotels and restaurants in the area, some are closed and others struggling to stay open.  A big question would be if attendees would be enthusiastic about gathering at this point.  There are many tough questions yet to be answered.  So, as you can see, the board members were faced with hard decisions.  They decided to act quickly and voted to cancel the trade show and avoid the issue of making people stay over in Providence. 

We hope you’ll understand and move forward with us when we host the 24th annual, but our 1st, New England Regional Turfgrass Virtual Conference on March 2nd & 3rd.  More information will be soon to follow….stay tuned!

Gary Sykes, Executive Director
New England Regional Turfgrass Foundation, Inc.

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