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Nemacolin Associate Is First Woman in Turfgrass Industry to Earn Certification

Kayla kipp on the course
Kayla Kipp

Being first makes it easier for others to see a clear path.
Being first breaks barriers.
Being first is unique.
Being first is breaking new ground,
breaking the glass ceiling,
breaking the stigma,
breaking stereotypes,
breaking barriers,
and it’s certainly breaking news.

So have you heard the news?

One of our own at Nemacolin is the first woman to achieve her certification as a Certified Turf Equipment Manager (CTEM) through the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA). At this time, she is one of just 15 people in the world to hold this industry certification, and she is, most notably, the first woman to do so.

Kayla Kipp serves the resort as the equipment manager in the Turfgrass Management Department for the Mystic Rock and Shepherd’s Rock golf courses at Nemacolin. Prior to working at the resort, she served as the equipment manager at the Lodestone and Fantasy Valley golf courses at Wisp Resort in McHenry, Maryland, and spent six years in the United States Air Force as a material handling and equipment maintenance journeyman.

Over the last seven years, Kayla has volunteered her time with the GCSAA on the Equipment Managers Task Group, and she was instrumental in helping to develop the intense certification program bestowed upon turf equipment management professionals who have demonstrated a high degree of knowledge and proficiency in their profession.

“To earn her certification, Kayla was required to have three years of experience as an equipment manager and to have completed the Equipment Management Certificate Program (EMCP) Level 1 and 2 to begin the Certified Turf Equipment Manager program (CTEM),” GCSAA CEO Rhett Evans said. “To then earn her certification, she passed all 197 attesting criteria focused on best practices of maintenance facility operations, safety, and the environment. She is the first woman to become a CTEM, and we congratulate her on this historical achievement.”

Of Kayla’s accomplishment, Nemacolin President Maggie Hardy Knox says, “This is monumental, and we are proud to have her motivation, determination, and spirit on the associate team at Nemacolin. She’s a shining example to all that nothing is impossible, and she is an encouragement to other women who are determined to achieve success in any business or industry.”

Maggie Hardy Knox understands what Kayla’s firsts mean. Knox was just 26 when she assumed leadership of 84 Lumber, showing her business smarts and proving her toughness in an industry that may have raised an eyebrow at her capabilities. Yet today, her energetic approach and aggressive goals are proof that hard work and dedication to one’s craft can equal tremendous success. Today, 84 Lumber is certified as a women’s business enterprise, and it sits at the top of the leaderboard as a privately held building materials supplier in the United States.

Kayla in the shop

Kayla says she’s been handing out many thank-yous in recent days, and there’s likely even more ahead as word gets out about her accomplishment and as she enjoys being included instead of excluded from professional opportunities.

She says of her certification, “While serving on this task group — through the hardest years of exclusion that many of us can remember — we persevered to develop the CTEM program. Many years have been put into this program, which I helped develop, and now I am blessed to be designated as such.

“Before CTEM attesting preparations began, I had to complete Level 1 and Level 2 of the Equipment Managers Certificate Program. Level 1 involved eight study guides and eight exams covering cutting units, drivetrain systems, electrical systems, engine technology, hydraulic systems, metalworking and fabrication, spray systems, and the fundamentals of turfgrass operations.

“Level 2 was much harder as no study guides are provided, and you are required to draw from experience to pass eight exams covering administrative management, best management practices, cutting units, drivetrains, electrical systems, engine technology, hydraulic systems, metalworking, spray systems, and turfgrass operations. Now that I am a CTEM, I’ll also need to complete continuing education every five years to keep the certification.”

Turf grass worker checking the fairway
staff working in a mechanical shop

Kayla gives a lot of credit where credit is deserved and due.

“My initial interest in mechanics goes to my father who is a jack of all trades. He taught me a lot as far as repairing instead of replacing. I love tearing things apart to see how they work and then maneuvering them back together,” she says.

In regard to her time in the Air Force, Kayla says, “Military service is very high-paced, precise, has lots of moving pieces, detail-oriented, safety-driven, and has a family atmosphere. I’ve found all of those attributes in turf management. People say once you’re in, you never find that same feeling, but this is exactly where I belong. The Air Force fine-tuned my attention to detail and observation. The two combined — the Air Force and my father — have really taught me that if you aren’t constantly improving, you’re digressing.”

In regard to the inspiration she’s found from GCSAA CEO Rhett Evans, Kayla says, “[He] is always the first to remind us to ‘lead out,’ be the first to cut tracks for the next individual, and to put the work in to benefit the future. As I am now the first woman to attain the title of CTEM, and as I’ve participated in three Women in Turf events while serving on the inaugural Women’s Task Group, I feel as though I have absolutely cleared a path for others to succeed in this industry. I’m ready for what’s next!”

Turf grass staff
testing turf grass
Turf grass team tests the green

In regard to the role she holds at Nemacolin, Kayla is grateful to many, including Director of Turfgrass Management Chris Anderson, Chief Mechanic Steve Moffat, and the Turfgrass Team. “I was very open with Chris about my goals and my timeline. He was very supportive.”

Says Anderson, “Since Kayla joined our team, she has devoted her time and talent to bring new life to our maintenance facility and program. She has fast-tracked her way to CTEM and brought our golf playing surfaces to the next level by working with the team.”

Kayla adds, “Working with Steve, our management team, and many departments around the property, we’ve transformed our maintenance facility. It’s a point of pride for the team and for me. We love having visitors, so come see what we’ve done together.

“From the Nemacolin Team to GCSAA and my turf family across the globe, I’m right at home. I would not be here, in this blessed position and time, without so many major supporters around me.”