Kenworthy Receives Award of Merit

Dr. Kevin Kenworthy with TPF President Eric Hjort.

TPF is pleased to recognize Dr. Kevin Kenworthy as the 2018 recipient of the association’s Award of Merit, presented at this year’s Growing Better Annual Meeting & Field Day.

A graduate of Texas Tech University and Oklahoma State, Kenworthy joined the UF/IFAS Agronomy Department in 2004, where he is a professor of Turfgrass Breeding and Genetics.  His research focuses on developing improved turfgrass species for home lawns, parks, highway right-of-ways, golf courses and athletic fields, with an emphasis on those that require fewer inputs while maintaining high turf quality.

Kenworthy serves as the lead investigator for two major breeding research programs currently underway as a joint effort between TPF, Florida Foundation Seed Producers (FFSP), and Sod Solutions.  Kenworthy developed the programs with grower input to be responsive to the needs of the industry and included scientists from related departments such as entomology and pathology.  These efforts resulted in holistic programs that are able to assess for specific traits or problems and to identify potential issues before a grass is released.  He was also instrumental in securing grants for two Specialty Crops Research Initiative (SCRI) programs focused on developing cultivars with better drought and salinity tolerance.  Those programs brought together breeders and researchers from multiple disciplines at five southern region universities, including UF, to exchange materials for testing under a wide variety of conditions.

“Collaboration has been a hallmark of all of Kevin’s efforts,” said TPF executive director Betsy McGill.  “He has consistently sought input from our grower members, other researchers, and end users to be sure that his programs are thorough and relevant.”

McGill also praised Kenworthy for his outstanding communication efforts.  “Kevin is both responsive to our needs and proactive in communicating with us on the status of programs.  He is always willing to help troubleshoot issues throughout the industry and has been a tremendous resource to us.  He has built a level of trust and reciprocity between the industry and the university through his accessibility and a true desire to help.”

The Award of Merit is presented annually by the association to those who have rendered outstanding service to the industry and to the association.  Past recipients include Eric Hjort, Tater Farms; Everglades Farms Equipment and Jason Tucker; Mac Carraway and Keith Truenow.