Teachers and Turf Team to Train Teens


by Stan Kazymerchyk, Turfgrass Management Instructor, Kwantlen Polytechnic University

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) is a condition resulting from prenatal alcohol exposure, which may impede learning and work function.

KPU Turfgrass, Surrey School District and local Golf Course Superintendents recently collaborated on a unique educational effort to guide teens with FASD into potential career success as Golf Course Greenskeepers. The Provincial Outreach Program for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder also contributed valuable input.

Proposed outcomes were for students to: 1 Assess Golf Course Greenskeeping as a career they might enjoy 2    Learn basic turfgrass management skills. 3    Try securing a Greenkeeper job at a local golf course.

On May 19, 20, and 22, seven FASD teens from Surrey School District experienced a free 3 day course custom-designed by KPU Turfgrass Management Instructor Stan Kazymerchyk to enact these goals. Special Education Helping Teacher Audrey Robinson of Surrey School District choreographed student selection and attendance with their teachers. Marks Workwear World of Guildford donated steel-toe boots and gloves to the students.

May 19 and 20 sessions were at KPU Langley Campus Field Lab, instructing 8 basic Greenskeeping skills.  Delivery was tailored to meet students learning needs: Small group stations; frequent breaks; image use; modelling; progression of demonstration > practice > feedback.

Eaglequest Coyote Creek Golf Superintendent Byron Duffy, taught Backpack blower and weed trimmer use.  KPU Instructional Associate Rob Welsh, guided students operating golf carts and gators.  Quilchena Golf Club Superintendent Jason Hooper, showed students how bunkers are hand-raked and machine raked.  KPU’s Stan Kazymerchyk discussed workplace expectations and golfer interaction.

15.06.01-BlowerByron Duffy training an FASD student in the use of a back-pack blower. Image courtesy KPU

Eaglequest Coyote Creek Golf Club hosted the May 22 session along with donating a fine lunch.  Byron Duffy and Stan Kazymerchyk gave students orientation tours of both the clubhouse and Turf Care Center operations.  Students then practiced the skills learned the first two days.  The day ended with students receiving Certificates and KPU Horticulture shirts in front of their teachers, instructors and proud parents.

The Instructors were very impressed with student’s performance and are convinced they could be valuable greenskeeping team members.  Students will now take time to think about pursuing this as a summer career.  Links were made with students and local Golf Course Superintendents about potential placement if they choose to do so. The Community Partners will next assess outcome success before planning similar follow-up projects, likely using this program as a template.

“The overall development of these young adults over a very short time period was extremely exciting to witness. Listening to their backgrounds from their teachers makes this small journey even more satisfying. I believe they learned something about values and respect not only for other people and "property" but also for themselves.” Byron Duffy, Eaglequest Coyote Creek Golf Club Superintendent

“I can only hope the students benefit half as much as I did by participating in the training sessions.  It was truly amazing to see them progress over the couple days that I was fortunate enough to work with them. They proved to us all that they are quick learners, resilient individuals and team-oriented workers! Again, thanks for the opportunity to share in this wonderful experience!  I know it's made me a better person.” Jason Hooper, Quilchena Golf Club Golf Superintendent