We’re so committed to the success and empowerment of women working in horticulture! We’ve experienced the loneliness of working in our male-dominated industry and battled against the stereotypes that try to tell us we can’t succeed here. Our mission is to inspire, educate, and empower women to get outside and get their hands dirty – this may mean working in your own yard for the casual plant lady but this might also mean pursuing a career in horticulture or turfgrass!
We are all for it and use our Industry Spotlight Series to celebrate women who are pushing the limits, changing the game, and taking our industry by storm!
We are so proud to show off a veteran, female leader in the world of Sports Turf Management, Sarah Martin! Sarah has been such a supporter of our brand and we’re so happy she’s part of the TPL community. Sarah has been breaking the mold since high school, following her passion for sports and the outdoors to the field of turf management where she has made a career for herself for almost 20 years. Sarah followed her dream from day one. Here’s her story!
While in high school, watching a football game, I realized that somebody had to take care of the field. I asked my dad about it, and he came home with the giant book of college majors and what universities had them (pre-internet, yes, I’m old!). We looked up Turf Management, and I found Colorado State, and that was it. I graduated with a degree in Landscape Horticulture with a Turfgrass Concentration from CSU.
After graduation I was the head groundskeeper for the Kane County Cougars, single-A for the Marlins at the time, for three seasons. Then I headed to Phoenix, Arizona to work for the City of Phoenix at the Maryvale Baseball Park, spring training home of the Milwaukee Brewers. I was the assistant groundskeeper there for 5 springs, before promoting to Reach 11 Sports Complex.
I was at Reach 11 Sports Complex for 16 years managing 18 professional size soccer fields (1 synthetic, 3 native soil and 14 sand based), 4 little league baseball fields and 25 miles of native trail system for the City of Phoenix Parks Department. The soccer facility was mainly used for high level, large tournaments and we were ranked in the top 5 of facilities that size. The soccer fields were overseeded annually to allow for high profile winter play.
In January, 2021 I accepted a move within the Parks Department to become the Park Supervisor over Water Resource Management. I track parks’ water consumption and look for trouble areas where we may need repairs or can save water, facilitate upgrades to our irrigation system (sometimes new pumps, others upgrades to the Calsense irrigation controllers we are converting to for smart water practices) and oversee the flood irrigation team. I continue to consult on turfgrass areas and the use of best management practices for turfgrass and water.
Our favorite part of this story? Sarah’s dad helping her do the research she would need to pursue her dreams! Encouragement and support from our friends and family is so important, especially when taking on a career that isn’t always seen as glamorous or like something you “should” do! And Sarah has certainly found a lot of success throughout her career. Check out the rest of her answers to our questions below to hear her best advice, stories of finding her voice, and even her favorite plants!
Q: What would you give as advice to another woman who would like to join the horticulture and turfgrass industry?
A: Do not in any way think that you are not able to do the job. Educate yourself on how to do it, and go after it! I may not be able to heave a 50 lb bag of fertilizer over my shoulder, but I certainly can carry it without hurting myself wherever I need to take it!
Q: What do you love most about what you do?
A: I love sports, baseball especially, and this was the way I was able to be part of the game. Even now, at the Park level, I get to be part of helping people to have a great outdoor space to be in. We spend entirely too much time indoors to not have a place to go outside and enjoy nature.
Q: What is the greatest challenge you have had in your career and how have you grown from dealing with that challenge?
A: Confidence and speaking out. I was the definition of wallflower when I first came into the industry. The Sports Turf Managers Association played a huge factor in getting me out of my shell. Working with the board of directors (I spent six years on the National STMA board, one of those as President) really helps you to speak in a group, and to see the value of your voice. This confidence has helped me to do more public speaking, to be a more effective teacher and given me the power to continue to chase my dreams.
Q: Do you have a favorite plant to share with our Plant Ladies?
A: You mean I have to pick just one????? My favorite plants have great texture and smell in their leaves, such as lavender and rosemary. I’m currently growing a chocolate mint that I am in love with, and wish that Arizona was a better climate for sweet pea’s as they are my favorite flowers.
CONNECT WITH SARAH
If you are interested in connecting with Sarah, follow her on social media!