Fran Rish Stadium has been a prominent stage for celebrated student-athletes in Richland School District for generations. The district’s grounds staff are the latest to be celebrated on its field thanks to their hard work caring for it.
The 12-member team recently earned an Honor recognition in the Professional Grounds Management Society’s (PGMS) annual Green Star Awards for its maintenance of the stadium field. Team members are set to formally accept the award at the PGMS annual conference in Louisville, Ky., in mid-October.
The awards celebrate grounds staff who meet the highest standards in landscape management and practices across industries, from universities and golf courses to resorts and government campuses. Typically only a few K-12 schools or school districts, if any, meet the awards criteria each year.
“The grounds team has applied these practices not just to sports fields but to all schools,” said Chris Hall, the district’s interim grounds supervisor. “This has made our schools stand out in the community and other districts and professionals have noticed.”
To qualify for consideration, a landscape facility must be at least two years old and under continuous maintenance for at least two years. Each entry is judged by a group of industry peers from across the country in the categories of the turf, landscape, safety, challenges, budget, and sustainable practices.
Award levels, from the top down, are Grand, Honor and Merit, and are only given if entrants meet the point-level rubric for recognition.
“They’re pretty picky. They just dinged us on our mowing pattern,” Hall said.
Hall said the award is especially meaningful as Fran Rish will be converted to artificial turf as part of renovations scheduled to begin after the fall athletic season ends.
“We knew this was our chance before this field goes to artificial turf and put together a plan as a team and fulfilled it,” he said.