I am Wilf Nixon, the founder and president of Professional Snowfighters Association. I have 30 some years of research in winter maintenance with a particular focus on operationally applicable solutions. For the last ten years I have been focusing on issues surrounding sustainability in winter maintenance, developing and sharing my understanding of how that needs to be locally driven.
Aside from my research experience, I like to talk, a lot, which is partly the result of my years of teaching at the University of Iowa, but also my gregarious nature. But I genuinely love to educate, to draw out ideas and questions from people no matter where their starting point is. That has led me into the world of winter maintenance training, where I have acquired a great deal of experience training all levels of winter maintenance.
Related to that is that I have learnt from my time as a professor that most research papers, including my own, no matter how relevant they might be, tend to get unread and left on dusty shelves. One goal of PSA is to bring that research into an accessible and practical format.
My vision for the Professional Snowfighters Association is a North American based non-profit professional association dedicated to creating a community of practice, based upon adherence to sound science as it seeks to improve knowledge and practices in the pursuit of safe and sustainable snowfighting by the winter maintenance community.
How do I see this coming about? Primarily PSA will be an online hub for all involved in winter maintenance, whether operators, agencies, contractors or industry, where information about good practices can be shared and disseminated. It is a place where members can exchange ideas to improve upon those good practices.
Our web site has resource material and a calendar of events that is open to the public but beyond that, for members of the association, there will be training materials. Currently these materials comprise of a series of “one-pagers” containing concise and accessible information culled from research papers. There will also be a monthly newsletter, the Cutting Edge. The first two or three issues I will write but my goal would be for members of the association to write them in the future.
Ultimately, I would like the members to own the association through their participation.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly is the self-assessment tool that I am developing for agencies and which will shortly be available to members on the website.