Saturday, January 26, 2013


Making a career of environmentalism

Jan 23 2013 | John Reitman

In his 18 years at Rockland Country Club, Matthew Ceplo, CGCS, has made environmental stewardship a way of life.

He led Rockland through Audubon International certification in 2000, and has continued those efforts to promote the course in Sparkill, N.Y., as a wildlife-friendly environment.

Ceplo's stewardship efforts have not gone unnoticed. Next month at the Golf Industry Show in San Diego he will receive the GCSAA President's Award for Environmental Stewardship.

The annual award recognizes an exceptional environmental contribution to the game of golf that exemplifies the superintendents image as a steward of the land, according to GCSAA.

Ceplo's stewardship outreach at Rockland includes an annual bird count on the property, and recently he completed the club's first-ever butterfly count with the help of local naturalist and butterfly expert John Lampkin. According to count results, at least 42 species of birds and 15 butterfly varieties call Rockland home at some time throughout the year.

Ceplo also conducted a Monarch (butterfly) Tagging Day, in which 17 members of two local Girl Scout troops helped tag Monarch butterflies at Rockland as part of a University of Kansas butterfly-tracking study

In September 2012 the club held its first fishing derby for children. The event, which was a tribute to Bill Moran, who played a key role in helping Ceplo with the Audubon International project, attracted 14 children who not only had fun catching fish, but also learned a thing or two about water quality management on golf courses in the process.

Ceplo, who has worked at Rockland since 1995, is a 1980 graduate of the State University of New York, Delhi, where he earned an associates degree in horticulture. He has been a TurfNet member since 1996.

His path toward environmental stewardship has been accomplished at a slow and steady pace, and it's a trip that began several years ago when he attended an informative meeting conducted by Joe Alonzi at Westchester Country Club about the Audubon International program.

"You take one step at a time and before you know it you've gone somewhere," Ceplo said.

In 2011, he received the GSA New York Environmental Stewardship Award. Given annually by the Global Sports Alliance, the award recognizes an individual who demonstrates an exception commitment to protecting the environment in the management of a recreational or sports venue.