Former NCAA athletic fields manager is new turfgrass extension educator

Monday, March 6, 2023

Amanda Folck began Jan. 1 as an assistant extension educator in the Department of Agronomy and Horticulture. Folck has a 90% extension and a 10% teaching appointment.

Folck is working on making new connections at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, in Nebraska Extension, with the commercial side of the turfgrass industry and with turfgrass stakeholders in the state.

“I am intrigued by the geographical differences between the various environments in Nebraska,” Folck said. “Based on my experience with warm- and cool-season turfgrass and, in extension, it felt like a good fit to come here.”

Born in Wisconsin, Folck grew up on her family farm — Folck Family Farm — in Mechanicsburg, Ohio, where she was a 10-year 4-H member in Clark County. The same county where A.B. Graham founded 4-H in 1902.

Her family was very involved in 4-H livestock shows as she showed award-winning swine, dairy cattle, ducks, dairy feeders and various miscellaneous projects. During her time in 4-H, Folck showed at the Clark County Fair, Ohio State Fair, and other local and national shows.

Even though she was emersed in the animal science world from a young age, Folck also had an interest in plants.

“I have always been interested in plants because of my experience on the farm,” she said. “My family planted and grew various fruits and vegetables, such as strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, watermelons, peas and pumpkins.”

In 2015, Folck earned an Associate of Science in general science from Clark State Community College in Springfield, Ohio. In addition, she received a Bachelor of Science in sustainable plant systems in turfgrass science with a minor in plant pathology from The Ohio State University in 2017 and a Master of Science in horticulture from Purdue University in 2022.

Before she graduated with an associate degree, she met with the turfgrass team at Ohio State to explore transferring to the four-year turfgrass degree program.

“In the past, I played various outdoor sports growing up, but I needed to learn more about the ecology of turfgrass management,” she said.

It also didn’t hurt that the turfgrass team was located on the same floor in Howlett Hall where Folck’s mom, Cindy Folck, worked with the Pesticide Safety Education Program at Ohio State Extension.

“I chose turfgrass because there are different types of grasses and cultivars that can work in different environments,” she said. “Another benefit is the versatility of using turfgrass for athletic events on television, from soccer games to golf tournaments in the PGA.”

After being accepted at Ohio State in 2015, Folck worked part time with Pam Sherratt in her extension program in sports turf management. This job led to an internship with the Arsenal Football Club in England in 2016 with another student from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Jeff Lenihan.

“After the internship at Arsenal, I realized that turfgrass is what I wanted to do for the rest of my career,” Folck said.

Before coming to Nebraska, Folck worked full time in NCAA Division I Collegiate Athletics. After graduating from Ohio State, she accepted a job at Texas A&M as the second assistant athletics field manager. In that position, Folck worked on Ellis Field, the school’s soccer field, and assisted with other Texas A&M athletic fields in College Station.

In 2019, she accepted a job as assistant athletics field manager at Purdue Athletics in West Lafayette, Indiana. She worked daily at the football facilities, including Ross-Ade Stadium. In January 2020, before COVID-19, she started her journey as a part-time graduate student. While working full time for Purdue Athletics, Folck earned a Master of Science with her thesis research in Kentucky Bluegrass Germination with adviser Aaron Patton.

Now, Folck says, she’s excited to be part of the turfgrass team at Nebraska and give back, based on her experiences in the turfgrass industry, and help provide outreach to assist turfgrass stakeholders in the state. In addition to her extension role, she will also be teaching the Plant and Landscape Systems 427 Turfgrass System Management capstone course to turfgrass science and management undergraduates.

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Amanda Folck
Amanda Folck