Grass Seed USA has named four U.S. veterans to win free home lawn makeovers through its Operation Home Turf veterans appreciation program. Joshua Baker of Kingston, Wash.; Roger King of Sandpoint, Idaho; Steven Ryerbach of Lebanon, Pa.; and Mike Wagoner of La Crosse, Wis., were randomly selected from the nominations of servicemen and servicewomen received through Grass Seed USA’s Facebook page. Each will receive a spring lawn revitalization valued at $500. Grass Seed USA will hire a local contractor in the spring to evaluate each winner’s lawn and implement the lawn care.
“It is an honor to be able to reward deserving service members, both past and present, for their dedication to our country by providing a new or improved lawn,” said Bryan Ostlund, Grass Seed USA executive director. “These home lawn makeovers are just a small token of our appreciation for their service, but we hope that by helping them create a relaxing retreat on the home front we can let them know their sacrifices are recognized and appreciated.”
Joshua Baker, Kingston, Wash. – Baker enlisted in the Navy shortly after high school, seeing it as a good way to start a career. He has been deployed on nuclear submarines all over the world while being forced to leave his wife and four children at home in Kingston, Wash. While deployed and stationed at Naval Base Kitsap, Baker decided to further his education by taking night, weekend and online classes to complete a bachelor’s degree in work force education. With Baker currently on deployment and his wife at home caring for four children, finding time to maintain their lawn has become impossible. Baker is 28 years old and recently became a petty officer first class in the U.S. Navy.
Roger King, Sandpoint, Idaho – King found his love of airplanes and engineering at the age of 17, which led to him working on the life support systems for the last four Apollo missions to the moon. Soon after, he was drafted into the Air Force during the Vietnam War. The Air Force utilized his engineering expertise to process surveillance film from reconnaissance missions and create radar simulations for the military’s B-52 bombers. Following four years in the Air Force, Staff Sgt. King left the military to start his own business, utilizing the skills he had learned in the Air Force. Now retired from his second successful company, King keeps busy on his five and a half acres in northern Idaho, where he has created a park with a seasonal creek, fire pit and tree house, which serves as a neighborhood hangout. Continual traffic at the park, feeding his love for aviation by flying more than 60 hours a year, and fixing and creating parts for old planes, combined with the difficult weather conditions of the region, have wreaked havoc on his lawn.
Steven Ryerbach, Lebanon, Pa. – Staff Sgt. Ryerbach joined the Marines in 1986 and served four years before accepting an honorable discharge to pursue other endeavors. In 1997, he returned to the military as an information systems specialist at the Eastern Army Aviation Training Site in Fort Indiantown Gap and joined the Pennsylvania National Guard. He was deployed with the 56th Stryker Brigade to Iraq in 2009. In July 2012, Ryerbach was elected department commander for AMVETS Pennsylvania. AMVETS, or American Veterans, advocates for veterans on issues such as employment, training, and funding for health care and other benefits. His busy schedule, two daughters, a fiancée and the floods from Tropical Storm Lee last year have left his lawn in dire need of repair.
Mike Wagoner, La Crosse, Wis. – Wagoner is a 30-year veteran of the Marine Corps and the Wisconsin National Guard. During his time in the service, he has been stationed in California as well as fulfilling deployments in the Middle East and Asia. He retired as a sergeant major. He currently works as a military training consultant at Fort McCoy. Wagoner is an active member of the American Legion of Wisconsin and a former state officer. Wagoner is always out and about volunteering at every organization he can think of, including serving 2,000 meals on Thanksgiving and being a youth bowling coach. Wagoner’s son was inspired to follow in his footsteps in the Marines and will be deployed in early 2013. Between Wagoner’s work, volunteer efforts and last year’s drought, his lawn is in need of help.
About Grass Seed USA
Grass Seed USA is a national coalition of grass seed farmers and academic turf specialists with a wealth of experience in studying, growing and harvesting grass and grass seed. The coalition seeks to inform and educate residential and commercial customers about the benefits of grass and best practices for responsibly growing and maintaining healthy turf. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/WeSeedAmerica, or follow on Twitter at twitter.com/WeSeedAmerica.