2017 marked the first year of the Irrigation Association’s new Innovator Award. This award was created by the IA Awards and Honors Committee to recognize individuals who have made significant, tangible contributions to the industry and the Irrigation Association within the past five years. Mike Baron and Rob Starr of The Water Zone radio program were selected as the winners of the inaugural award.
Baron and Starr, both of The Toro Company, are the founders and co-hosts of the pioneering weekly radio show. Developed in an effort to bring the message of responsible water use and information to the masses, The Water Zone was the perfect antidote for property owners trying to keep their landscapes healthy despite the historic drought restrictions in California.
“California’s water supply impacts our economy, our environment, our food supply and our quality of life,” said U.S. Congressman Ken Calvert from California’s 42nd District. “Kudos to The Toro Company for sponsoring The Water Zone. Its comprehensive approach to educating listeners about water issues is without a doubt a service to our community.”
With Baron and Starr’s more than 50 years of combined experience in the irrigation industry, the show highlights the duo’s breadth of knowledge on irrigation best practices, legislation and insight. Their long-standing relationships with industry professionals have enabled the show to include guests and experts that would not normally participate in such a medium.
Launched in June 2015, the award-winning radio program brings together numerous local, state, federal and international government officials; water experts; civic leaders; and a wide variety of technologists to discuss today’s water challenges and explore potential strategies for sustaining one of our most precious resources.
The Water Zone features timely and relevant discussions on current water issues. The show also spotlights an “irrigation component of the week” to help homeowners better understand how their systems work while learning to identify irrigation problems that cause water waste and how to fix them. Baron and Starr create an interactive environment by allowing the listening audience to call in to ask questions for either the show hosts or on-air guests.
The Irrigation Association created a partnership with The Water Zone earlier in 2017 to provide on-air educational training for irrigation and landscape professionals. The training is conducted quarterly by a rotating group of IA-certified irrigation specialists and enables listeners to earn IA continuing education units.