May 18, 2011 - What is the difference between storm drains and sewer drains? How much oxygen do salmon need when they are spawning? Under what pH does grass need to thrive?

These are some of the questions Laurel Nyquist’s 7th grade students pondered on their field trip to Glendale Country Club in Bellevue, WA on May 5. Nyquist’s class, numbering over 50, left their classrooms at Sacred Heart School in Clyde Hill, Washington for the hands-on learning environment of the golf course. Principal David Burroughs also attended.

Through First Green, local golf course superintendents 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.

Students visited four learning stations around the golf course. They tested the water in Kelsey Creek, the tributary that runs through the golf course, for pH and temperature, and learned the optimal conditions for salmon and salmon eggs. Using water from the golf course’s pond, students raced each other to find macro-invertebrates.

They also learned about storm water and what they could do at home to protect water quality. Jim Myers, Greg Hall and Craig Benson, superintendents at The Plateau Club, Fairwood Golf and Country Club and Meridian Valley Golf & Country Club, showed the students how to test the soil for pH level, and why that is important.

After the learning stations, the students were able to go onto a putting green for a putting content.

Laurie Devereaux from the City of Bellevue guided the students through their macro-invertebrate hunt and taught them that the presence of macro invertebrates (in quantity and diversity) indicates water health. Melani Baker of Nature Vision addressed how water quality impacts salmon.

David Phipps, superintendent at Stone Creek Golf Club in the Portland, OR area and Jeff Glaser, a sixth-grade teacher from St. Louise School in Bellevue attended because of interest in First Green.

“The trip really helped the students make real world applications to our classroom lessons. I had some nice discussions with my students when we returned to school about water quality, soils and effects of pollution on water and habitat,” said Laurel Nyquist.