The Minnesota GCSA has a monthly column in its publication to encourage continuing education and networking. The column is in a question and answer format and is called “Peer-to-Peer: Better Turf Through Networking”. In an era of ever increasing demands on members’ time and attention, the chapter has hit upon a way to reach out to members, offer them a service, and not demand a lot in return. The column has added value to the newsletter, and value to the membership.
Simple idea – big return
John “Jack” MacKenzie Jr., CGCS, Minnesota GCSA director and editor of Hole Notes, came up with the idea of the monthly column. The idea stemmed from the lack of member involvement on a web forum available through the University of Minnesota. The forum was set up to allow superintendents to network and communicate with each other in an online environment. The problem was that it wasn’t being used.
“The idea was a good one. I just thought that more personal contact would generate a better response to the questions posed,” MacKenzie said. He and Minnesota GCSA Executive Director Scott Turtinen worked together to create the “Peer-to-Peer” column. MacKenzie develops the questions to pose to the members, and Turtinen sends an email out to the membership. The questions range in subject from cart path control to pesticide and spoon feeding programs. The questions have always generated a good response rate. MacKenzie then takes the responses and lays them out in a single or two-page spread, depending on space.
While the idea is simple, the popularity of the column and the response it generates is a way for the Minnesota GCSA to engage its members and help them learn from their peers.
“It’s been a real learning tool for some of our younger superintendents and assistants,” Turtinen said. They get to read what other superintendents are doing about a shared challenge or issue.”
It’s also an affirmation for the more tenured superintendents. “They like to compare what they do to what their peers are doing. It’s reassuring to note that they aren’t alone in their struggles and challenges,” MacKenzie added.
Create your own peer-to-peer column
The beauty of this idea is that it is effective, yet incredibly simple to pull together. “It’s probably the easiest column we do. I cut the members’ responses out of their emails, and paste it into the formatted file,” MacKenzie notes.
Here’s how the column is created:
- The editor formulates the question of the month. These questions are usually timely issues, concerns or how-to’s that most of the membership will be dealing with in some form or fashion.
- The executive director sends out an email to all members asking for their responses and giving a due date.
- The editor compiles the responses and prepares the column.
Little things add up
While no one will argue that this column isn’t going to create a “big splash” with the membership, it does engage members that don’t always come to meetings, or participate in other programs. Sometimes it’s the little things that can create a positive membership experience.
To share your chapter's success stories, please email them to Leann Cooper.