I hosted my inaugural First Green field trip at Gulf Stream Golf Club on December 13 of this past year. The First Green program is something I am sure that most people in our industry are aware of at this point. In the early stages of planning, the main goal was to reach out to a school that was in close proximity to our facility. It took just over a year to get the event on the calendar, but it was well worth the wait. The planning process is made simple thanks to The First Green website where you will find all the information you need for the superintendent and the teacher alike.
The field trip at Gulf Stream consisted of 14 fourth graders from the Gulf Stream School. The planning process was as simple as a few phone and email conversations with the teacher to make her aware of the lab subjects and the field trip timing and location details. The three labs I chose for the event were Water Quality, Cool Tools on the Greens, and Pollinators. I was very enthusiastic, and I went the extra mile with the planning. I made three-ring binders for the students with lesson plans, homework, and puzzles to be completed for their teacher. I also made manuals for the instructors with lesson plans and agendas. I feel the efforts were greatly enjoyed by the students and instructors and led to a smoothly run event.
The event took about two hours to complete. It is amazing how fast the time flies in each lab where we spent about 30 minutes. The class size of 14 was perfect for the three-lab rotation. The small group size at each lab allowed for an intimate and hands-on experience for the students. I was amazed by their engagement and interest in the labs. From the moment they walked out onto the golf course you could sense their excitement, as well as my own. Students and teachers alike were amazed by the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics that takes place every day on the property. The students were well behaved and had great answers to many of the questions asked of them.
The students and teachers could not say enough about their excitement for this opportunity. Some made comments that they would like to work on a golf course … Bingo! The reputation of the Gulf Stream Golf Club in the community certainly rose on this day. While reflecting on the day’s events, it became evident to me that this was a highlight of my career. The First Green field trip added a great sense of purpose to my career. I look forward to hosting another field trip, which I have planned for April 29, with the same class and new labs.
I would encourage anyone who is considering hosting to please reach out to me if I can assist you in anyway. I can share my agenda and format for the binders to further simplify your efforts. I would also invite you to attend my next event if you would like to get a feel for the day or assist with teaching a lab.
I owe a special thanks to Parker Ferren, CGCS of St. Andrews Club and Sierra Malnove of Sierra’s Bees for teaching the Cool Tools and Pollinators labs respectively. Their enthusiasm for the event was evident and I couldn’t have done it without them. Also, thanks to Jennifer Bryan with the Florida GCSA and GCSAA president Rafael Barajas, CGCS for attending and supporting the event. Also, I would like to thank Carol Jackson of the Gulf Stream Golf Club for being such a strong supporter of these types of initiatives at the club.
In closing, the golf industry has created opportunities both personally and professionally beyond my wildest dreams. The least I can do is serve the industry that has served me and my family so well. Sign up and host a First Green field trip at your course so that you may experience it for yourself. Please let me know if I can help you in anyway.
Ryan Swilley is golf course superintendent at Gulf Stream Golf Club in Delray Beach.