Ag Journeys

“Everyone in turf loves what they do.”

William Hilderhoff

Hometown: Pittsburgh, PA

Major: Turfgrass Science

Clubs: Turf Club (vice president), Turf Bowl Competition Team (captain)

Good at: Snowboarding, hanging out with friends and family, working hard, watching football, rooting for Pittsburgh sports including suffering as a Pirates fan.

William on field at football game

You can’t get better seats.

“What’s better than seats on the 50-yard line? Being on the field during a whiteout with 110,000 fans all around you as part of the Beaver Stadium turf crew. That’s what.”

“Go to a stadium or golf course, chances are there’s a Penn Stater on staff.”

I thought I wanted something else, then I discovered turf.

“I was in a fantastic program before majoring in turf, but it never really clicked for me. One summer, I worked at a golf course close to home and loved what I was doing. My boss at the course was a Penn State Turfgrass Science alum. He pretty much sold me on the program, and I never looked back. Changing my major was scary, but the best decision I’ve ever made.”

Turf construction site

Not a cubicle guy.

“I come from a working-class Pittsburgh family, and work is in my DNA. Turfgrass Science is ideal for a guy like me. I’m just not a 9-to-5 cubicle guy. I value being out in nature and doing real work with my hands. Yes, turf is a profession that relies deeply on science and management principles, but the industry and the turf community here at Penn State have a real blue-collar heart.”

Jobs, jobs, jobs.

“Through the Penn State turf network, I have a job waiting for me the day I graduate. I will be an agronomist at Oakmont Country Club, one of the best courses in the country, which just happens to be about a half hour from home. That was just one of several offers I had to choose from.  If you are qualified and ready to work, there are endless opportunities in turf, all over the world.”

William with coworker on course

Lion for life.

The Penn State connection is for life. It’s not just about wearing the t-shirt and shouting WE ARE—although that’s awesome. I anticipate looking back to Penn State as a resource throughout my career. Whether it be a plant science question or a golf business question, I will be connecting with University Park. And, someday, I will be on the other end of the line or coming back to Happy Valley to do my part as a mentor and resource.

William by water with tree and sunset

People need joy.

“When people ask why turf matters, I think of what I’ve seen out on the greens. We create a beautiful landscape that provides a break from the everyday and creates a setting where people can relax and enjoy themselves. It’s great for families and for friendships. People need joy and that’s what we facilitate.”

Dianne will make it happen.

“Dianne Petrunak was there for me from day one. She is the chief adviser for the program. She is totally dedicated to student success. Crafting the right class schedule, posting job openings and internships, keeping students on track with important announcements and dates. Everything. Dianne will make it happen.”

Nobody comes close.

“I had the opportunity to go to six different locations around the United States for conferences and Turf Bowl competitions.  Our great reputation arrives long before Penn Staters show up. Of course, it’s all in good fun, but we walk in with a swagger and a professionalism that is the envy of the room. I’m not going to lie; it feels good to be the best.

William group award photo