Last week, Stoughton Trailers got an award for its “positive influence on the state economy,” including a $75,000 donation to the charity of their choice.

Company officials didn’t take long to show why the business is also a positive influence on Stoughton, announcing Oct. 15 that it would apply the money – and match it – to donate $150,000 toward artificial turf for Collins Field.

Stoughton Area School District athletic director Mel Dow called the donation a “gracious surprise” and a continuation of the company’s “ongoing support of our academic and athletic programs.”

The Flowers Family Foundation presented its sixth annual Wisconsin Business Achievement Award to Stoughton Trailers during a luncheon in La Crosse, including $75,000 donation to the charity of the company’s choice. The award recognized the over-the-road semitrailer manufacturer for its “positive influence on the state economy,” according to a Stoughton Trailers news release.

The release said the combined contribution from the company and Flowers Family Foundation will “lay the foundation for the field’s development.”

“Installing turf will allow the field to support more frequent, year-round activity, and open up many new opportunities for community use,” he said in the news release.

While the field is located at Stoughton High School, Dow said artificial turf there would also benefit younger students and might reduce the number of injuries from a wet, muddy grass field.

Artificial turf wouldn’t just be for football, either, but would support a broad range of sports and activities, Dow said.

Adding the turf would cut down on costs, as it wouldn’t need to be watered or maintained. Spring sports teams could practice on the turf right away, instead of waiting for the ground to thaw, and avoiding damaging new grass. There could be competitive advantages as well, as Stoughton teams wouldn’t have to give up home games due to poor field conditions here, as Dow said has happened before.

“If this is a project we’re able to pull together, this is going to provide more opportunities for our kids,” he told the Hub last week.

Stoughton Trailers president Bob Wahlin said company officials hope the initial donation “serves as both foundation and catalyst to kick-start further donation efforts.”

“Although much work is still needed to move ahead with a turf field, we are impressed by the vision of the athletic department to build a multi-use/sport facility that can be enjoyed by the entire community, from youth teams through high school,” he wrote in an email to the Hub on Monday. “We are thrilled to be able to help in programs that continue to make Stoughton a great place to live, work and raise a family.”

Dow told the Hub he and other members of the athletic department had discussed installing a turf field before but faced two main challenges: price and perception.

With $150,000 in seed money now in hand, district officials can get to work on the price part of that. As for the perception, as a “bit of a traditionalist,” Dow said while “playing on a grass field is good,” there are other considerations for a school district in a relatively cold climate.

“When you’re limited on how many times you can get on the grass and keep it in a safe condition for everybody, that’s where the challenges start coming in,” he said.

Email Unified Newspaper Group reporter Scott De Laruelle at scott.delaruelle@wcinet.com.