Education beyond the classroom

April 11, 2024

Students in the Agricultural Technology Management program face-off at this year’s GCSAA Turf Bowl competition.

3 students from the university of arizona aeti program and frank santiago posing for a photo at the turf bowl

Meet the University of Arizona Turf Bowl Team at the 2024 competition! From left to right: Jayson Gadd, Seth Killsworth, Frank Santiago, and Marcos Heras.

This spring, three students from the Agricultural Technology Management (AGTM) program attended the annual GCSAA Turf Bowl, marking the first time a University of Arizona team has attended the competition in 30 years.


Jayson Gadd, Seth Killworth, and Marcos Heras, all majoring in Agriculture Technology Management, attended the Turf Bowl, alongside mentor Frank Santiago, a Designated Campus Colleague and current Turf and Ornamental Sales Representative for BASF covering Arizona and New Mexico.


For students like Jayson, the opportunity to participate in the Turf Bowl was not only educational but enlightening. Having always had an interest in turf management with aspirations to become a golf course superintendent, this competition could not have come at a better time. Along with the skills and knowledge that the AGTM program has given them, the students also received personalized coaching from Santiago that focused on the specifics of turf management from propagation and fertilization to disease.


“The Turf Bowl gave me insight on what the future holds for me. I went into the competition with minimal knowledge on the material but in a way it excited me because I will get to learn all of it throughout my career,” Gadd said.


Having gone from working at the University of Arizona as a Director of Student Recruitment to the science and agricultural sector, Frank Santiago has been committed to building a pipeline for students from college into industry. Santiago attributes competitions like the Turf Bowl to be invaluable opportunities for students to gain hands on experience and to connect with recruiters.


“These competitions are a great outlet for students to be able to apply their science and networking skills outside of the classroom,” Santiago said. “They can hone skills from public speaking and networking to agricultural mechanics and agronomy.”


Santiago plans to continue working towards building the pipeline for students to gain experiential opportunities that lead to full-time jobs. Though the students did not win this year’s competition, all three left with internship offers. Santiago is working with Cactus & Pine (AZ Golf Course Superintendents Association), the GCSAA, AZ FFA, Troon Golf & Club Management and La Paloma Resort to host a First Green event at the upcoming AZ FFA State Leadership Conference. First Green is a STEM and environmental outreach program that uses the golf course as a living laboratory and showcases the breadth of careers in the golf course industry.


Please contact Frank Santiago at sends e-mail) if you would like to help support the Turf Cats attend future Turf Bowl  competitions or support First Green Programs for FFA students


Learn more about the Turf Bowl