(The following article is based on a field trip summary by Jerry Rousseau.)

May 28, 2014 - On May 5, students from Heidi Gawehns’ 8th grade class at Pitt River Middle School in Coquitlam, BC turned the Vancouver Golf Club (VGC) into a learning lab, thanks to host superintendent Dave Kennedy. During the three hour field trip, kids rotated through individual learning stations on soil, water and putting, finishing with a hole cutting demonstration by assistant superintendent, Pete Rodrigues, on the 18th green. 

“It’s a different dynamic when you take them outside the classroom. We could do the same thing in the class with a bucket of water and some soil and it wouldn’t have the same effect at all,” said Gawehns.

Both teachers and kids were highly engaged and enjoyed the clinic.  “I think it’s going to become a pretty popular program, given the enthusiasm of the kids, the feedback from the principal and their volunteers,” stated Kennedy.  “Getting kids involved in golf isn’t really the main goal but it’s certainly a benefit. Many of these kids have never been on a golf course and they have no idea what happens on a golf course.”

First Green presenters included David Phipps, Golf Course Superintendent Association of America’s Northwest Field Representative, and Steve Kealy, Superintendent of the Glendale Country Club in Bellevue, Wash. Jeff Shelley, First Green board president and Karen Armstead, executive director, delivered the First Green educational message.  The field trip was sponsored and organized by the Western Canada Turfgrass Association (WCTA), in conjunction with Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU), Keso Turf Supplies and the First Green Foundation.  The WCTA hopes to help market First Green’s value to all golf courses in western Canada. 

“Now that we know what’s involved with a First Green event, we can help communicate the program to our members,” explained Stan Kazymerchyk, who along with Trevor Smith, WCTA President, and Jerry Rousseau, WCTA Executive Director,  had a big hand in organizing the field trip.  He added, “The educational value is great and exposing students to the game of golf helps ensure the future of the sport.”

About the WCTA

The WCTA is a 750-plus member not-for-profit association based in western Canada and interested in further education, research and the exchange of information related to turfgrass management.  Members represent a diversity of sectors such as golf courses, school boards, municipalities, sod farms, nurseries, landscapers, lawn bowling greens, mechanics, horticulturists and industry suppliers.

The organization is actively involved in the promotion and support of research, education and discussion in professional turfgrass management.

For more information about WCTA, see http://www.wcta-online.com.

About First Green

First Green is an innovative environmental education outreach program using golf courses as environmental learning labs. First Green coordinates outdoor “learning labs” at golf courses that allow students to perform hands-on experiments and tests, all within the focus of their schools’ environmental science and/or horticulture curricula.

In these outdoor labs, students test water quality, collect soil samples, identify plants, do math activities and work with local issues such as stream-bed or owl-nest restoration. First Green also emphasizes the environmental and community benefits of golf courses, while introducing potential new golfers to the game in a fun, educational manner.

A non-profit, First Green was founded in the State of Washington in 1998 and is expanding nationally.

For more information about First Green, see www.thefirstgreen.org.