Now more than ever, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) is key to the education of students — our future. The future of the golf and turf industry relies on quality labor sources. Addressing both is the First Green. This superintendent and golf course driven program uses the “links as labs” while engaging students in hands-on learning.
We as an association are proud and excited to say: First Green is roaring back in the region. The PAGCS and the Philadelphia area First Green Collaborative Team recently hosted their first two field trips since the pandemic shut down the program. This was all possible thanks to hosts Chris Walton and Coatesville Country Club members as well as Alan Fitzgerald and his team at Ledgerock Golf Club.
On Tuesday, Oct. 19, more than 80 fourth graders from Governor Mifflin School District and their teachers and chaperones truly were blown away by the likes of drones, creek wildlife, plants and soil, and the chance to swing a club at Ledgerock! Watching students’ faces as they realized they just solved a math based problem without knowing it is priceless. Watching the adults’ amazement at what really goes on at a golf course is rewarding and proof that the industry needs this as outreach.
But my favorite comment came from one of the science teachers who helped run the creek lab. As part of that station, they conducted water sampling tests. He was absolutely shocked at the excellent quality of the water — he had expected to find a substandard rating from the tests and, instead, found a quality rating that nearly tripled the standard.
As you can see, hosting a First Green field trip is not just a rewarding experience but achieves something so needed and significant — educating adults and youth about the career opportunities and benefits of the industry while making learning hands on, refreshing and fun. And while both recent trips included fourth grade, we have hosted every grade from third through high school.
The next field trip followed less than a week later on Monday, Oct. 25, at Coatesville Country Club. This ambitious First Greenfield trip included half of the entire fourth grade of Coatesville School District — about 130 students.
Talk about an “all hands on deck” event! So in addition to the PAGCS and Collaborative teams, host Chris Walton brought in a dozen or so of his club’s members who were all happy and intrigued to be there. Their enthusiasm and curiosity was fun to witness and share.
A village of PAGCS sponsors and members help make our First Green programs a success. Please contact a board member, previous host, or the PAGCS office for the insider scoop and start planning your facility’s part in the education of our future.
Article written by Kristen Liebsch, executive director of the Philadelphia Association of Golf Course Superintendents, originally appeared in the 2021 Issue III of the PAGCS newsletter.