The APWA/PGMS Certified Grounds Manager Program

Hildo Hernandez
General Manager, Facilities Services (retired)
Los Angeles County, California
Liaison, APWA/PGMS
Member, APWA Facilities and Grounds Committee

Why does APWA support the Professional Grounds Management Society's (PGMS) Certified Grounds Manager (CGM) Program? Let's ask the committee that made this a matter of importance. The Facilities and Grounds Committee is one of the most diverse Technical Committees in APWA. Its functional areas of responsibility cover both vertical and horizontal management and technical areas within grounds, facilities construction and service activities.

We are all evaluated by our performance in the industry, so why not be recognized by our professional peers? Do you want to know how grounds professional certification fits into your career and agency? Read on and find out why the committee is pursuing a grounds certification program. What validated the continuation of this effort, what has transpired in most recent months and why now? What will being a CGM do for your career and your employer?

Through a partnership between PGMS and APWA, members of both groups enjoy the benefits of reciprocal rates in meetings, publications, training and jointly-sponsored programs that will benefit all. That's a big plus for you and your employer. As an example, the CGM program is available to APWA members at the PGMS member rate and visa versa, and APWA will offer registration to Congress, books, etc. to PGMS members at the APWA member rate. This APWA/PGMS partnership agreement was officially signed by Past President Bob Miller at the 1997 APWA Congress in Minneapolis with Bob Aronson, Clarence Wright, and Steve Quock, Facilities and Grounds Committee members, and PGMS's Board of Directors all present for the signing.
Following renewed talks with PGMS in 2003, the Facilities and Grounds Committee initiated a survey of APWA grounds members to determine their interest in the Certified Grounds Manager Program. An impressive 95% responded positively. Past President Dwayne Kalynchuk appointed me as the APWA liaison to the PGMS partnership. Contacts were made and the partnership was revived. PGMS provided an educational session for the 2003 Congress in San Diego, and PGMS Board member Don Bottger joined the Facilities and Grounds Committee meeting. Following Congress the executive directors for both organizations met to ensure that member benefits were strengthened. Thereafter I had the pleasure to attend the PGMS annual conference "The Green Exposition" that included more than 450 exhibits, and to meet with the PGMS Board of Directors. We had successful discussions about our partnership and the CGM program.

What is this CGM certification program all about? It provides APWA members with the opportunity to make application, meet the necessary requirements, and take the qualifying examination. The exam is divided into several parts that review all aspects of grounds management. For example, a technical written section on the fundamentals of grounds maintenance must be passed with a score of 70% or better before going into the management performance submissions. After completing all written submissions you go before an approved professional Board for an oral examination. The exam must be successfully completed in one year and the certification is good for five years. To renew you must complete 50 approved units of CEU's during those five years to continue in good standing as a CGM.

Qualified APWA members will be eligible for certification once the Facilities and Grounds Committee approves an examination process. APWA and PGMS will need to complete details about the examination procedures and applicable costs associated with the process before it is available to APWA members. Watch for updates about the program at and at the APWA infoNOW Communities.

Keep in mind that once you achieve the CGM credential you and your agency will be in a position to advance your career with the knowledge that you are recognized by peers as having reached the highest standard of performance in the industry. Your agency will also be recognized as having a professionally-qualified, certified employee recognized by peers in the industry. The Facilities and Grounds Committee will be moving the process forward at the Combined Technical Committee Meeting in Kansas City this April. Your comments and input are encouraged and appreciated. We want to ensure that this certification program works well for you and your agency.

What else comes with the PGMS partnership? PGMS has committed to exhibiting at the 2005 APWA Congress in Minneapolis; they will also provide an educational session entitled "Operational Guidelines for Grounds Management" with Kevin O'Donnell, Director of Grounds at Villanova University. PGMS has invited APWA to join their Green Star Awards program that recognizes entities/colleges/universities that are the "best in class" for athletic, campus, park facilities, etc. APWA members may attend The Green Exposition, co-sponsored by PGMS and two other professional organizations at the member rate. This year's EXPO is in Orlando, Florida, November 2-5. In exchange, APWA will provide similar benefits to PGMS members. APWA and PGMS members are provided with these extended benefits because the partnership is designed to provide added value to members of both organizations.

For information about the Certified Grounds Manager Program visit or e-mail and information can be mailed to you. For information about the APWA Facilities and Grounds Committee contact staff liaison Karen Bloodworth at (800) 848-APWA or e-mail Again, we welcome your input and look forward to hearing from you. Be sure to mark your calendar to attend the APWA Congress in Minneapolis, Minnesota, September 11-14, 2005 and hear more about the partnership between APWA and PGMS and the Certified Grounds Manager (CGM) Program.

Hildo Hernandez can be reached at (818) 694-8377 or at