The 1st Annual SEC Landscape Conference was held April 4th and 5th in Oxford Mississippi on the campus of Ole Miss and SSC Texas A&M had two personnel in attendance. Mike Teal and myself, Bryan McGee, were on hand to represent both SSC and Texas A&M at the conference and were joined by Grounds Management personnel from nine other SEC schools and one ACC school that was able to join in. Schools with representatives in attendance included the host Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Alabama, Auburn, Tennessee, Georgia, Kentucky, Texas A&M, Vanderbilt and Florida State.

The conference covered a number of different topics ranging from how each school handles tailgating, managing tree protection during on-campus construction, organizing memorial plaques for trees on campus, and even building a positive team culture among employees to aid in training and employee retention. Attendees swapped stories, shared ideas and experiences and overall had a great time. Jeff McManus, Grounds Manager at Ole Miss, and his team were gracious hosts and provided tours of their beautiful campus including behind-the-scene tours of the football, baseball and softball facilities on campus. Suppliers who sponsored the event include Toro, Rainbow Ecoscience, SiteOne and Simplot, all of which contributed greatly to both the content and experience of the conference and were greatly appreciated by the group of attendees.

Personally, I found it refreshing that Grounds Management personnel from all of our sister schools in the SEC share many of the same challenges in the day-to-day operations of their duties that we experience here at Texas A&M, so we are far from alone when it comes to managing them. We gained professional friendships with some amazing people that I’m sure will be beneficial to all of us for the rest of our careers. It was not only a pleasure to be invited and included in the event but it was exciting to see the passion with which all of these professionals perform the many tasks assigned to them at their respective schools. Passion is contagious and I was happy to see it spread throughout this group.

In the end, the 1st Annual SEC Landscape Conference is in the books but it will be far from the last as other schools, including Texas A&M, have signed up to host events each year at their respective campuses through the year 2027 and we hope that attendance will expand to include all SEC schools in the near future, and who knows we may even pick up more schools from some other conferences along the way.

submitted by Bryan McGee

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