Every year the Sports Turf Association chooses a Turf Graduate of the Year from dozens of hopeful nominees.
Sponsored by Toro Australia, the Graduate of the Year award recognises outstanding work by turf graduates in the industry, and aims to provide opportunities to enhance personal development, professionalism and career progression for the lucky winner.
Recipients will attend the Toro Sports Fields and Grounds Forum in Australia, as well as in the United States. The U.S. component of the trip also includes work experience and visits to some of the world/s most renowned sports fields
The 2015 STA Turf Graduate of the Year award went to NSW nominee Kurt Dillon. Kurt works for Green Options and is a turf graduate from Ryde TAFE in NSW, by whom he was nominated for the exciting industry accolade.
Originally selected as the NSW STA Graduate of the Year, Kurt had no idea he would also be chosen to represent his state in the National award, let alone be the chosen winner.
Since the announcement at the AGCSA Turfgrass Conference in Melbourne in June this year, Kurt has returned to Ryde TAFE to take on a Certificate 4 in Turf Management, as well as continue his work with Green Options.
We caught up with the new Turf Graduate of the Year to find out how his life and career have changed since winning the prestigious industry award.
Turfmate: Can you tell us about your experience being nominated? Who put you up for nomination, and did you think you would win?
Kurt Dillon: “Originally I was nominated by Ryde TAFE to be their representative for the NSW STA Graduate of the Year.
So I went through the interview process for the NSW award and I was lucky enough to be selected to represent NSW for the National Graduate of the Year.
By no stretch of the imagination was I expecting to win. All the other graduates were all really smart and so passionate about their jobs and greenkeeping, so to even be up for nomination with those other guys was really humbling.”
TM: What does this award mean for you?
KD: “It’s a great honour to win this award, as all the other graduates were very talented. So for me to win this award I feel very privileged, and I will do my best to represent this award in the best of my ability.”
TM: Toro also provide a mentor to the Graduate of the Yearfor the 12 months to help along the journey, who is your mentor and what are you hoping to learn from them?
KD: “My mentor will be Graeme Logan, the curator of ANZ Stadium. I’m hoping to learn a lot which I’m sure I will.
Being that ANZ stadium is Australia’s number one multi-sporting venue, Graeme would have a wealth of knowledge about what it takes to prepare a world-class surface all year round and the requirements of surfaces that different sports need.”
TM: What is the best part, for you, about winning this award?
KD: “The best part about winning this award for me, was simply getting to go down to Melbourne for the conference and networking with the numerous amounts of people that work in the turf industry, and really listening to their experiences as turf managers and learning from people that have many years of experience in the industry.”
TM: In your short time as 2015’s Graduate of the Year, what has changed so far? Do you feel you have grown or learnt more already?
KD: “Yes, I certainly think that I have grown, and I have been given more responsibility at work.
After winning this award it has definitely opened my eyes to the number of different opportunities that present themselves in the industry. I definitely believe I have learnt more since winning this award and I am currently undertaking studies at Ryde TAFE in Certificate 4 in Sports Turf Management.”
TM: What do you think this award will mean for your future in the turf industry?
KD: “I think it’s a prestigious award to win, it shows that I’ve studied and learnt the trade to the best of my ability.
Hopefully it shows future/potential employers that I am a worthy employee. This award has given me incentive to go as far as I can in the industry.”
TM: Is there anything else you would like to add, or anyone you would like to thank?
KD: “I would really like to thank the company I work for, Green Options, Ryde TAFE where I completed my Studies and The STA for choosing me as the recipient of this award.
I would like to give a special mention to my supervisor Steven Brassington who is the Curator at Southern Cross Group Stadium (Shark Park), who I have worked with since day one.
Without Steve’s support and guidance there would be no way I’d be the recipient of this award.”