Turfgrass Producers International has named Mike Kenna, Ph.D., director of USGA Green Section Research, the recipient of TPI’s Distinguished Service Award. Kenna will be presented the award during the association’s Annual Business Meeting on Feb. 23 in Houston, Texas.
The recipient is selected by TPI’s past presidents and from nominations submitted by TPI members. The award serves to recognize an individual for exceptional devotion of time, talent and energy to TPI, its programs and objectives.
As the director of USGA Green Section Research since February 1990, Kenna currently oversees the USGA’s turfgrass and environmental research activities, including soliciting and evaluating research proposals, grant making, and development of cooperative funding with government and commercial sources.
Among the numerous goals of the USGA Green Section Research — develop minimal maintenance turfgrasses with the main objectives to conserve water, improve salt, heat and cold tolerance, and provide research on disease, insects and support the development of turfgrasses that require lower nutritional requirements.
In addition to his varied responsibilities with the USGA Kenna has served as an editor of several books regarding turfgrass biotechnology, environmental issues, and water conservation and reuse.
He also has collaborated on numerous books with distinguished individuals such as James B. Beard, Ph.D., and Ali Harivandi, Ph.D. He has authored or co-authored more than 50 professional and trade articles and nearly 20 proceedings and abstracts.
During his tenure with USGA Green Section Research he has interacted and worked with numerous organizations and associations to share information, collaborate on numerous projects and studies, and served as a spokesperson for both the USGA, golf and turfgrass industries.
He has served TPI in numerous ways prior to becoming a member of the association in 2003, such as helping to formulate what would become The Lawn Institute’s research program, to serving on The Lawn Institute’s Research Committee for well over a decade.
He has also provided his knowledge, insight and recommendations as an active member in TPI’s Public Relations Working Group and he has been instrumental in assisting TPI in building relationships with turfgrass extension specialists, researchers and numerous green industry associations.
Kenna received his bachelor’s degree in ornamental horticulture from California State Polytechnic University in Pomona, Calif., and his master’s degree in agronomy and Ph.D. degree in crop science from Oklahoma State University. His graduate studies involved turf and forage grass breeding, quantitative genetics, plant physiology and turfgrass management.
In 1985 he joined the faculty at Oklahoma State University as an assistant professor, responsible for turfgrass research activities and a statewide extension program. He was selected for the Young Scientist position on the USGA Research Committee in 1988 and was the 2003 Distinguished Alumnus of the College of Agriculture at California State Polytechnic University.