April 30, 2013 - As the United States seeks to meet the rising need for graduates with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) degrees, First Green is filling the gap with its innovative program of using golf courses as learning labs.
How does it work? First Green matches schools with local golf courses, which teachers and students visit during field trips where they perform hands-on experiments and tests, all within the focus of their 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. They also learn what they personally can do at home to protect the environment. STEM learning with an environmental emphasis is called E-STEM.
Many of the field trips involve community organizations. In Bellevue, Wash., the city’s Stream Team often has a learning station at Glendale Country Club’s field trips and engages students in identifying macro-invertebrates (bugs) from the Glendale pond.
A tax-exempt non-profit, First Green emphasizes the environmental and community benefits of golf courses, while introducing potential new golfers to the game in a fun, educational manner. It was founded in the State of Washington in 1997 and is expanding nationally.