July 10, 2012 - Last month, over 60 fifth grade students at Lowell Elementary in Everett, Wash., followed science teacher, Brent Radcliff, to a new outdoor laboratory –The Everett Golf & Country Club (EG&CC). As part of the First Green program, EG&CC golf course superintendent, Mike Conklin, working in conjunction with Radcliff, developed a science-based outing for the students which focused on agronomy, the science of soils and plants.
The program included a hands-on demonstration about soils and turf grass ecology. The kids conducted experiments at several learning stations set up on the course. The fun and educational field trip also featured a presentation from club members Nan Jessberger and Liz Healy concerning wildlife on the course and was highlighted with a discovery walk and discussion of the resident Merlin falcons which nest in the 100 year old Douglas fir trees at the golf club. These rare birds have been the subject of study by local ornithologist, Dave Drummond. Students were able to observe the falcons in their habitat.
The students were also treated to an introduction to the game of golf by Jeff Cornish, the executive director of The First Tee of North Puget Sound, with help from some of the EG&CC member volunteers. The First Tee teaches students life skills and cites golf as the best "classroom" for developing personal success skills such as interpersonal relations, goal setting, self-management and resiliency.
Over the long term, Brent Radcliff and Superintendent Mike Conklin hope to develop a program that will bring the students to the course each year to complete projects that connect with their curriculum at school.