Links to Labs - First Green Program Strikes Again!

14.04.06-First.Green.logoBy Jerry Rousseau

The Western Canada Turfgrass Association (WCTA), in partnership with the First Green Foundation, has launched the first program in Canada that brings environmental education to grade 5 through 12 students using golf courses as learning labs. 

This unique program was first launched on Canadian soil via a demonstration event held May 2014 at the Vancouver Golf Club.  More recently, a highly successful second event took place Friday, October 2nd at the Redwoods Golf Course in the Township of Langley, BC with special guest, the Honourable Mary Polak, BC Minister of Environment, attending.

15.10.14-First.Green.Redwoods2BC Minister of Environment, Mary Polak, addresses students at the First Green demo event held at the Redwoods Golf Course on October 2nd.

So what happens when you bring kids to a golf course to learn science, technology, engineering and math (STEM)? 

“Golf courses are a perfect fit for STEM learning,” stated Trevor Smith.  “Students are taught about soil, eco-systems, wildlife habitat, surface and ground water, storm and sewer water management and a host of environmental benefits golf courses can provide.”

Along with their teacher, Heidi Gawehns, the twenty-seven Pitt River Middle School grade eights who participated in the October event, were thoroughly impressed.   

15.10.14-First.Green.Redwoods3USGA Agronomist,Larry Gilhuly with help from Capilano Golf Course Superintendent Jamie Robb (not shown), deliver a dynamic soil science lesson using some cool turf technology tools.

Also in attendance and impressed with the learning opportunity was Diane Turner, Delta School District Superintendent who afterward stated, “Yes, I think this would be a great opportunity for our school districts.  As for my school district, I would very much like to set up an opportunity for you to come to a golf course and show some of our school district team how this program works first hand.”  

The WCTA would like to thank Redwoods General Manager Doug Hawley, Course Superintendent Peter Szarka and Assistant Superintendent Cameron Watt for a phenomenal day.  Also, hats off to Stan Kazymerchyk of Kwantlen University, along with several other WCTA Directors who played key roles in coordinating this event.

15.10.14-First.Green.RedwoodsRedwoods Golf Course Superintendent, Peter Szarka, gives Pitt River Middle School grade 8 student, Jesse, a lift in one of four suped up golf carts in the fleet. Needless to say, Jesse was impressed…All images credit Jerry Rousseau

About First Green:
First Green is an innovative environmental education outreach program using golf courses as environmental learning labs, allowing students to perform hands-on experiments and tests, all within the focus of their schools’ environmental science and/or environmental horticulture curricula. In outdoor labs lead by the golf course superintendent, 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.