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Let’s Mow!

Mets FMEP Clinic - August 23, 2013 - 07

Summer is around the corner and cutting the grass may even be on your to-do list this weekend. Mowing is one of the most important practices for maintaining a healthy turf. There are four main components to mowing: mowing height, mowing frequency, clipping disposal and mowing equipment.  

Mowing Height

  1.        Optimum cutting height is determined by the growth habit and leaf width of the turfgrass.
  2.        Narrow leaf blades that grow horizontally are usually mowed shorter. Examples are: bermudagrass and creeping bentgrass
  3.        Upright-growing grass with wider leaf blades are usually mowed higher. Example is: St. Augustinegrass
  4.        Repeated mowing below the recommended heights for each species is a primary cause of turf injury.

Mowing Frequency:

  1.     Mowing frequency is determined by the growth rate and the utility of the grass.
  2.     The growth rate is determined by species, time of year, weather conditions, and management requirements.
  3.     Grass that receives repeated athletic use will need more frequent mowing.
  4.     No more than 1/3 of the blade height should be removed per mowing.

Clipping Disposal

  1.     Grass clippings contain nutrients and organic matter that can be taken up and reused by the turfgrass.
  2.     Grass clippings are generally not desired on athletic fields and golf greens, and therefore are bagged.
  3.     Make sure to blow any grass clippings on sidewalks, driveways, or other hard surfaces back onto the grass as to avoid pollution.

Mowing Equipment

  1.        The two basic types of mowers : reel and rotary
  2.        Reel mowers are used on grasses that require a low height of cut and are best suited for high maintenance, fine-bladed grasses (golf courses and athletic fields)
  3.        Rotary mowers are best suited for grasses with mowing heights above 2 inches.
  4.        Keeping blades sharp on every kind of mower is very important for the turf health. 

Thanks to our friends at SportsTurf for providing this great insight. Read the full article and be sure to here. Be sure to scroll to the bottom for some great, very practical mowing tips.

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NEW One Grant at a Time and Waiting Period Policy Effective Immediately

To Current and Past Grant Recipients:

As we mark the 15th anniversary of the Baseball Tomorrow Fund (BTF) this year, we thank you for your continued support of youth baseball and softball in your community.

The BTF Board of Directors recently approved a new policy, the One Grant at a Time and Waiting Period Policy, effective immediately.  This policy stipulates that BTF will award only one grant to an organization at a time with a two-year waiting period before a subsequent request will be considered.  The purpose of this policy is to enable BTF to use grant outcomes, reporting and the demonstration of proper, on-going maintenance and operation of the programs and facilities to make well-informed decisions.

To summarize, BTF will require recipients that receive a BTF grant through our standard application process to complete the term of a grant, submit a final report and annual follow-up reports for at least two years before it will consider a subsequent funding request.  Exceptions are noted for BTF/MLB Equipment Day and Field Maintenance Education Program grants.

You may review the complete policy at www.baseballtomorrowfund.com.  Thanks again for your cooperation.

All in the Details – Tips on Planning a Media Event

With the arrival of Spring comes the arrival of event season. From Opening Day Parades to Field Lighting Ceremonies, it’s all underway.

Bayonne Little League - Event - April 6, 2013 - 05

The Baseball Tomorrow Fund is lucky enough to be involved in a variety of events. We understand planning an event can be an overwhelming task, so we thought it may be helpful to have something to refer to when the details feel daunting.

Pre Event:
1. Start with a vision – what do you want your event to look like? What image do you want to portray to the media and the guests who attend?
2. Determine where you’re going to host your event. At the ballpark? Inside the new batting cages? A parade down Main Street?
3. Determine a Run of Show. Write down a brief schedule of the event.
4. Create an invite to spark people’s interest. Request that people RSVP and then make a guest list.
5. Designate a photographer and a videographer.
6. Create and distribute a press release to your local outlets.
7. Promote the event on your social media profiles.

Event:
1. Arrive early to set up the event.
     a. Test the sound system to make sure it works.
     b. Do a mock run through.
2. Greet the media and tell them what to expect from the day.
3. Meet with the photographer and videographer. Give them a list of desired specific photos/video footage.
     a. TIP: Try to ensure your organization/sponsor signage are visible for photo opportunities.
4. Upload pictures and status updates during the event to your social media profiles.
5. Enjoy the event!

Post Event:
1. Collect all photos and video.
2. Create a photo album and/or recap to post on your social media profiles.
3. Contact media to discuss details or photos they may need.
4. Search and save any articles that mentioned the event or your organization.
5. Make notes for yourself of what worked really well and what could be improved next time.

Events are a wonderful way to celebrate a new season, a completed project or ring in a new program. They are a lot of work but they always prove to be productive, joyous and memorable.

Downey High School - Media Event - February 2013 12 - Photo Credit Martin Trejo

The Baseball Tomorrow is on Twitter and Facebook.

Common Reasons for Rejection

survey

If your organization was rejected for a Baseball Tomorrow Fund grant or is planning to apply, please review this information to gain a better understanding of the most common reasons a request is rejected and for examples to strengthen your request.

Common Reasons for Rejection

KEEP IN MIND:  The Baseball Tomorrow Fund (like all grant making organizations) select recipients that demonstrate strong leadership, professionalism, the ability to properly manage a budget, paperwork and oversee a project to completion.  As in your job or at school, spelling, grammar, punctuation, organizational and administrative skills count!  If your organization’s request is poorly written or incomplete, it does not reflect well your organization’s ability to manage a grant and reporting requirements, complete a project or sustain a program or facility.  Take the time to proofread and get help from others before submitting a request.

Automatic Revocation of IRS Tax-Exempt Status for Nonprofits | National Council of Nonprofits

Do you know your non-profit organization’s current tax-exempt status? Now is a good time to double-check. If your organization’s tax-exempt status was revoked, learn what to do.

Automatic Revocation of IRS Tax-Exempt Status for Nonprofits | National Council of Nonprofits.

Questions I’m Most Often Asked about Winning Foundation Grants

Questions I’m Most Often Asked about Winning Foundation Grants.

For anyone in the process of writing a grant or considering it, this is an informative Q&A with a foundation expert.  Great advice!

Charity Begins At Home… Know Your Organization’s Charitable Status and EIN

ImageWhat is Your Organization’s Charitable Status?

Now that the summer league season is over, we encourage all U.S.-based, youth baseball and softball organizations (as well as other small non-profit organizations) to confirm the charitable exemption status of your organization with the IRS.

According to the IRS website, “Although they are exempt from income taxation, exempt organizations are generally required to file annual returns of their income and expenses with the Internal Revenue Service.  Beginning in 2008, small tax-exempt organizations that previously were not required to file returns because their gross receipts did not exceed a certain threshold may be required to file an annual electronic notice…In addition to required filings, a charity may have other ongoing compliance obligations.”

Therefore, if you have not checked recently, have not filed the appropriate returns (or don’t know if your organization has filed), don’t assume that your organization is still exempt!

Read all about the IRS requirements for charities and non-profits in the U.S. at http://www.irs.gov/Charities-&-Non-Profits/Exempt-Organizations—Required-Filings

The Baseball Tomorrow Fund application requires a copy of your IRS letter of determination, confirming the non-profit status of your organization.  So, make sure your organization has a current copy before beginning the application process.

Know Your EIN

This is also a good opportunity to confirm your organization’s EIN (Employer Identification Number or Federal Tax Identification Number.)  All U.S. organizations are assigned this number by the IRS.

At BTF, we require an EIN for all U.S. based applicants — whether the organization is a registered 501(c)(3) or tax-exempt organization, such as a municipality or school.  This number is used as an applicant’s unique identification number in our database and is required before any grant award is approved or paid.  Without a EIN, BTF will not process or evaluate a request.

The format of a Federal EIN is XX-XXXXXXX.  If the number you have on file has more or less digits, it is unlikely to be a Federal EIN.

Free Online Grant Writing Classes

If you have never written a grant proposal but are considering it, we encourage you to do a bit of research and educate yourself on the basics before jumping right in.

The Foundation Center is the leading source of information about philanthropy.  The Center maintains the most comprehensive database on U.S. and global grantmakers and operates research, education, and training programs designed to advance knowledge of philanthropy at all levels.  The Center offers an excellent library for free webinars (in English and Spanish) covering topics including grant seeking basics, developing a proposal budget and fundraising planning.

Go to http://fdncenter.sharedby.co/links/LjLBC2 to learn more about grant writing, grant seeking and the world of philanthropy.

You Can’t Control the Weather…

…but you can control how you maintain your field. The Baseball Tomorrow Fund helps organizations all over the world, which means at any given time the weather can be drastically different for our grant recipients. Take a look at a few quick tips on how to properly handle different types of weather.

Rain

-Always be aware of the forecast. It is vital to cover  the mound and home plate areas when rain is predicted. Tarp should overlap the grass by eight inches.

-Just because it’s done raining, doesn’t mean the field is ready for play. Too much standing water can increase field damage and the risk of player injuries. Sometimes calling a game is necessary after rain.

Extreme Heat

-During periods of extreme heat, you must thoroughly water your turf and keep an eye on the depth of moisture saturation using a soil probe. If the water penetration is slow, it may be necessary to aerate.

-If you’re using artificial turf, be sure to water the field prior to using it to cool down the surface temperature – it can get very warm!

Snow

A little snow won’t stop the Rockies! Click the image for the article.

A little snow won’t stop the Rockies! Click the image for the article.

 

-If you are prone to winter weather, consider using a winter turf cover in the off-season. It not only protects your field from the elements, but also warms the soil and can help grass grow better and greener in the spring.

-Sometimes a simple shovel and teamwork is the best resource. Check out this article about the Colorado Rockies’ Groundkeeper Crew and what happens with the show must go on.

For more tips, please visit the BTF Field Maintenance GuideFacebookTwitter and Website pages.

Artificial Turf: The 5 Ws

There are many factors when thinking about installing artificial turf. The various aspects can seem overwhelming when making this big of a decision, so we have provided a breakdown of the 5Ws (and the H!) of Artificial Turf.  Be sure to also check out the Resources at the bottom of the post to learn more.

What Is It?

Artificial turf is synthetic ground cover. It resembles natural grass and is often used in athletic facilities to provide a consistent playing surface that sustains extended use and weather conditions. Artificial turf consists of more than the grass-like fiber that you can see from the stands; it also includes a drainage system, a backing system, and infill, which is similar to topsoil but is made from sand and/or rubber materials (Synthetic Turf Council).

Turf

Photo Credit: Synthetic Turf Council

Who Uses It?

According to the Synthetic Turf Council (STC), more than 8,000 artificial turf fields are being used in North America. With less daily (and less costly) maintenance, a higher level of consistency and a greater ability to withstand more usage, artificial turf has become a popular choice in colleges and high schools.

Why Use It?

Artificial turf can withstand more usage than natural grass, ideal if you envision using the field for various types of sports and events (STC). Your athletes may also sustain fewer injuries that would normally occur due to uneven playing surfaces, mud, and similar problems associated with natural grass.

Unlike natural grass, artificial turf will not attract weeds or bugs, eliminating the need for pesticides or fertilizer (momsTeam). You also will conserve water with an artificial field; in 2010, “between four to eight billion gallons of water were conserved” with artificial turf use (STC). That equates to the annuals water usage of up to 55,000 average American families!

What are some drawbacks?

An artificial field typically needs to be replaced every 8 to 10 years, though that lifespan may decrease with higher usage (STC). On a related note, once artificial grass is installed, it’s essentially a long-term commitment. The impact of the plastic turf on the soil makes it nearly impossible to sustain natural grass in the future without years of soil reformation (momsTeam).

It can also be expensive to maintain (though much less expensive than natural grass). The Sports Turf Managers Association (STMA) estimates that maintaining an artificial field can cost approximately $6,000/year, not including equipment, and can require up to 375 of labor hours/year. These estimates vary by field size and usage.

Another element to consider is heat. Artificial turf can heat up faster than natural grass, but this impact can be temporarily minimized by watering the field prior to use (STMA).

Finally, line marking can be permanent on artificial turf, as it can be sewn into the turf during production. This makes it less adaptable for other sports if changing line markings is necessary. With this in mind, however, it is possible to paint temporary lines/logos on the field, but they may more difficult to remove than on natural grass (STMA).

Where Should It Be Used?

Artificial turf is suitable to be used in all settings, but especially when the weather is unpredictable or even predictably hot, in which case artificial turf can be a better, more reliable choice than natural grass (STC).

Another weather note – if you experience lots of rain, artificial turf may be a sound choice. It tends to drain faster than natural grass and maintains its playability. This leads to less maintenance time after rain and also fewer rainouts (STMA).

How much will it cost?

The cost of an artificial field will be greater upfront, but generally pays off in 3 to 4 years (STC). The cost of installing artificial turf varies depending on field size, usage, type of fiber, amount and type of infill, geographic location, irrigation systems, labor costs, and more. STMA provides a typical cost range for $6.50-$11.00 per square foot. A youth baseball field at 60,000 square feet may average out to around $500,000 – but this basic estimate does not take into consideration a number of factors, some of which are listed above.

 

When I’m ready to install artificial, what do I do?

You may want to hire a consultant who has experience with artificial turf. STMA suggests contacting a sports field manager, sports turf manager, and/or an agronomist to consult on the project. The Synthetic Turf Council also has a list of companies and a Request for Proposal Automator to help with the bidding process.

Resources:

Sports Turf Managers Association

Synthetic Turf Council

momsTeam

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