2003 Distinguished Alumni
College of Agriculture
Michael Kenna '79, Ornamental Horticulture
"Carpe diem. Sieze present opportunities, make the most of your day!"
A Cal Poly Pomona ornamental horticulture graduate, Michael Kenna, Ph.D., has been a turfgrass research director for the US Golf Association for the past 13 years and credits the university's agriculture department for his solid foundation in turfgrass science.
"I feel very fortunate to have had such a great education and opportunity to experience much more than classroom lectures while at Cal Poly Pomona," Kenna says. "I believe it prepared me to excel in my profession and provided me with a wide range of tools to solve problems."
Kenna has collected many accolades for his research and work. He was twice awarded the USGA Research Committee Young Scientist Award and received the Outstanding Ph.D.Graduate Student Award while pursuing a doctorate degree in crop science at Oklahoma State University. He has organized turfgrass biotechnical symposiums, as well as had numerous journal articles and professional papers published.
"There is a sense of hope that careful and steady work will produce better plants for all of us to use in the future, whether in traditional agriculture or in our urban landscapes," he says. "We can meet the challenges facing our industry by getting to work looking for solutions and not waste time complaining about our changing regulations, environment or availability of resources."
Since Kenna's appointment to the USGA's Green Section Research in 1990, he has been responsible for over 180 research projects at over 40 universities and institutions, overseeing more than $14 million in grants.
The College of Agriculture recently asked Kenna to apply his area of expertise to the college by inviting him to assess its turfgrass research program plus help outline grant proposals. Kenna says he plans to continue working for the USGA for the next 10 to 15 years as a director of golf improvement projects that sponsor graduate students and university faculty.
"I enjoy my role as a leader and try to encourage young scientists with their careers in turfgrass science," he says. "I enjoy my job, the interaction with university faculty and graduate students [through USGA-sponsored programs], and the opportunity to direct a program that is making progress with regard to resource management and environmental issues.
Kenna calls golf his passion because he says it teaches him about life and has provided him a good living. He says he feels blessed with a loving family and a successful career, both of which compel him to work hard and give something back to the turfgrass industry. He and his family reside in Stillwater, Oklahoma.