On Wednesday, Oct. 19, the team at Spanish Peaks Mountain Club (SPMC) in Big Sky, Mont., in collaboration with the Yellowstone Club and Moonlight Basin, welcomed 28 fifth-grade students from Ophir Elementary School for a First Green field trip. This was the first time a First Green field trip was held at a Montana golf course. Ryan Blechta, SPMC senior director of grounds and 25-year GCSAA member, led the four-hour event with help from Yellowstone Club and Moonlight Basin team members.
The students participated in a four-hour field trip at Spanish Peaks practice area where they rotated through 25-minute STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) learning stations covering five topics: Cool Tools on the Green, Soil and Water, Wildlife Management, Math on the Course and Golf Course Operations. Students experienced hands-on learning on the golf course and learned how to solve problems golf course superintendents face daily.
The Wildlife Management station, led by Charles Johnson, SPMC director of security, was the most popular because of the materials included in the station, such as different animal horns, fur and scat. Coming in a close second was the Cool Tools on the Green station – students loved using the moisture meter to poke around the greens and were amazed at how it worked.
“It was so rewarding to see the excitement of the kids all day. The students were thrilled to be out of the classroom and to be learning outdoors,” Ryan Blechta said. “Seeing their excitement and being able to teach them what we do on the golf course was exhilarating.”
The collaboration of team members from Yellowstone Club and Moonlight Basin was another positive aspect of the event, which created an opportunity for networking as well as recognition of other superintendents and golf courses in the area. Blechta remarked that GCSAA made it as easy as possible to host by providing all the resources needed to organize the day’s events.
First Green field trips benefit students by enabling them to apply their classroom knowledge in an outdoor setting and by showing them how STEM concepts have real-world applications in unexpected places. Through this program, students can find new inspiration in their schoolwork and potentially gain interest in pursuing a career in golf course management. Students also learn the importance of green spaces and environmental stewardship through First Green.
Photos courtesy of Spanish Peaks Mountain Club.