The Atlanta-based Synthetic Turf Council (STC) has expanded its 2010 "Search for the Real Field of Dreams" contest to include public as well as high school fields. The national search was launched last year to determine which synthetic turf field across the country had achieved the greatest positive impact on athletes, schools or the community.

The contest is open to any high school; county, city or municipal park or parks department; or public organization in the United States with a synthetic turf athletic field. Interested students, coaches, faculty, parents, parks and recreation managers, and local supporters can nominate a sports field by completing an entry form at www.syntheticturfcouncil.org.

Submissions are due by March 31, 2010. Winners will be selected in April by an independent panel of judges. A cash prize will be awarded to the winning entry and other national finalists.

"During 2009, we received numerous compelling stories about the positive impact of synthetic turf," said Rick Doyle, president of the Synthetic Turf Council. "More than 5,000 synthetic turf sports fields are currently open in the United States, creating more opportunities for our youth to practice and play sports, as well as build healthier bodies, minds and self-esteem."

The 2009 grand prize winner was Salesian High School in Richmond, Calif. In a modern-day story of David vs. Goliath, the school's football team went from the brink of closure to defeating an "unbeatable" team in its homecoming game.

First runner-up honors in the 2009 contest went to the varsity football team at Junction City High School in Junction City, Kan. The school's team, after 40 years of frustration, won the 2008 state championship after replacing its run-down playing field with synthetic turf.

Other finalists in the 2009 contest came from a variety of communities, including Virginia City, Nev., in the West to Rutland, Vt., in the East. The finalists' entries noted how the rejuvenated sports fields brought their communities together to achieve what once seemed impossible.

According to STC estimates, local governments, school and parks districts, colleges and other organizations installed more than 1,000 synthetic turf fields in 2009.

The STC was founded in 2003 to promote the industry and to assist buyers and end users with the selection, use and maintenance of synthetic turf systems in sports field, golf, municipal parks, airports, landscape and residential applications. The organization also is a resource for research on the safety and environmental impact of synthetic turf.