First Green To Be Featured at the 2018 BCGSA Exchange Tournament

The annual BC Golf Superintendents Association Exchange Tournament takes place August 19-21 at Two Eagles Golf Course in West Kelowna and for its education component, the First Green program will be featured.

First Green is an innovative environmental education outreach program for grade school kids (ideally 5-12) that uses golf courses or sportsfields as environmental learning labs – the only program of its kind.  It was started in the late 90’s in the Seattle area by a small group of dedicated golf superintendents working with a couple teachers.  Since then, more than 15,000 students have participated in First Green field trips and the program was expanded nationally in the US in the late 2000’s with funding provided by the USGA.  If you watched the 2015 Chambers Bay US Open, First Green got a lot of air time.

That’s Brett Finlayson on the left helping Steve Kealy (middle) and Dave Kennedy  welcome students to the inaugural Canadian First Green field trip held at the Vancouver Golf Club in 2014.

The Western Canada Turfgrass Association became the only Canadian First Green licensee around that same time, has hosted several pilot events and is encouraging other Canadian golf industry organizations to participate with the program.

Pete Rodrigues shows a group of grade 8 students how they cut cups at the Vancouver Golf Club.

Commenting on behalf of the WCTA Board, Executive Director Jerry Rousseau stated, “We’d like to thank the BCGSA for approaching us to deliver a ‘How to put on a First Green’ presentation at Two Eagles.  WCTA’s First Green program coordinator, Stan Kazymerchyk, is ready to provide everything superintendents need to know about First Green, especially the community outreach benefits of becoming involved and I will be there in support and to help answer any questions.”

Larry Gilhuly explains moisture sensing technology at a First Green event held in 2015 at the Redwoods Golf Course in Langley.

A typical First Green field trip is about an hour and a half with two or three hands-on learning stations.  Myriad lesson plans help align the learning content of each field trip with students’ current curriculum.

In these outdoor “labs”, students may test water quality, collect soil samples, identify plants, do math activities and work with local issues such as stream-bed or owl-nest restoration and much more.

The Golf Course Superintendent Association of America (GCSAA) has recently taken over First Green administration through its Environmental Institute for Golf and is currently working on plans to transition and expand the program.  Shelia Finney from GCSAA will be also attending the Exchange Tournament to support the First Green program.