June 14, 2017 – On a recent sunny Friday, Jeff Glaser’s and Paula Patterson’s sixth-grade environmental science classes from St. Louise School visited Glendale Country Club in Bellevue, Wash., for hands-on environmental science activities. They collected water bugs, learned about the latest technology used to maintain putting greens, measured and calculated, and had a fun putting contest.

Students weren’t the only ones learning on the golf course. Attending were:

  • Cathy Kay, board member of the Washington State Golf Association
  • Aubrey McCormick and Gina Rizzi from IMPACT360 Sports, a group promoting whole-value environmental, social, and economic sustainability within the sports industry.
  • Dave Phipps, regional rep from the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America

This field trip was part of First Green’s STEM program, which uses golf courses as learning labs. Golf course superintendents need to be highly-trained in STEM to manage their golf courses; they share this knowledge with teachers and students, showing real world applications that inspire student interest in STEM. Teacher Jeff Glaser has brought his class to Glendale for the past four years to show his “students what they can do to help their local environment.”

Steve Kealy, Golf Course Superintendent at Glendale, hosted the field trip and led the math on the golf course activity. Students measured the length and width of a rectangle, and calculated how many football fields would fit into Glendale. Later, one student said, “I enjoyed using math in life situations and learning about golf tools.”

Larry Gilhuly, agronomist from the USGA Green Section, shared the high-tech tools used to measure soil moisture, wind speed and grass blade height. After Gilhuly used two quarters to help students visualize optimum home lawn mowing height, Paula Patterson, 6th grade science teacher at St. Louise, stated that “simple things can help solidify understanding.”

First Green field trips often involve community groups. Laurie Devereaux of the City of Bellevue’s Stream Team, sent the students on an aquatic bug hunt, in a perennial student favorite. Students learned that healthy ponds contain many different types of bugs. Devereaux asked students to find as many different bugs as they could.

May and June have been peak months for First Green across the country. On the other side of the U.S. from Glendale Country Club, the Philadelphia Cricket Club in Pennsylvania held its inaugural First Green field trip, Forest Hill Field Club in New Jersey hosted its fourth annual outing, and the Westminster National Golf Club in Maryland held its second First Green field trip in two years.

About First Green

  • First Green is an innovative environmental education outreach program using golf courses as environmental learning labs – the only program of its kind.
  • First Green has extensive resources for golf course superintendents, including online lesson plans.
  • First Green has been providing STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) learning since 1997.
  • Golf course superintendents and/or local golf course representatives host students on field trips where they test water quality, collect soil samples, identify plants, design plantings, assist in stream bed restoration and are involved in the ecology and environmental aspects of the golf course. The students are also introduced to many other aspects of golf.

A tax-exempt nonprofit, First Green was founded in the State of Washington in 1997 and is expanding nationally. For more information and to view introductory First Green videos, visit www.thefirstgreen.org.