Using Links as Labs: First Green Connects Kids, Classrooms and Golf Courses

2014 E3 Green Apple Award Winners

Using Links as Labs: First Green Connects Kids, Classrooms and Golf Courses 

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Glenwood Golf Course Superintendent Steve Kealy helps students measure water flow of a stream running through the course as part of the First Green Environmental Education Program.

fgow2As the United States seeks to meet the rising need for graduates with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) degrees, First Green is filling the gap with its innovative program of using golf courses as learning labs. First Green coordinates outdoor STEM “learning labs” at golf courses that allow students to perform hands-on experiments and tests, all within the focus of their schools’ environmental science and/or environmental horticulture curricula. In these outdoor “labs” 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.

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Superintendent Steve Kealy helps student find macroinvertebrates in leaf litter from the golf course.

Many of the field trips involve community organizations. In Bellevue, Wash., the city’s Stream Team often has a learning station at Glendale Country Club’s field trips and engages students in identifying macro-invertebrates (bugs) from the Glendale pond. In addition, a Puget Sound area group, Nature Vision, provides a salmon life cycle lab.

FirstGreenLogoWEBA 501(c)(3) tax-exempt foundation, First Green was founded in 1997 and is based in Bellevue, Wash. Over 15,000 students have been on First Green field trips. Each field trip reaches an estimated 230 people with environmental and golf messages (due to students sharing with friends and families and teachers sharing with colleagues. First Green has replicated the program across Washington and into other states – Oregon, California, New Jersey, New York, Utah, Colorado, and just launched a program in Western Canada in May 2014.

Support
First Green receives ongoing support from the Washington State Golf Association, Pacific Northwest Golf Association, golf clubs and individual donors.

In addition, First Green was awarded STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) grants of $155,750 and $100,000 by the United States Golf Association (USGA) for 2014 and 2013. The grants are funded by the USGA’s partnership with Chevron, designed to encourage students in science, technology, engineering and math disciplines (STEM) through the world of golf.

Awards
Color_E3_Logo_w.Tag_t210First Green was awarded a 2014 E3 Washington Green Apple Award for Business Excellence.  Steve Kealy, Golf Course Superintendent and First Green Board member, accepted the award at a ceremony on June 26, 2014.

For More Information
For more information about First Green, visit www.thefirstgreen.org or call 425/746-0809. The media contacts are Cathy Relyea, email cathyrelyea@thefirstgreen.org or call 425/373-9915; and Jeff Shelley, email jeffs@cybergolf.com or call 206/522-6981.

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