Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Impacting our communities through outreach and education

In my travels around the Northeast and throughout the country, I’ve noted that the status of the golf industry continues to be a hotbed topic of conversation. As an industry, we are continually addressing issues related to the environment, player growth, agronomic practices, regulatory pressures and many others, but we have always been united in our support of outreach and education. Our commitment is evident in countless community and national programs and strengthened immeasurably by the involvement of every golf professional, facility and allied organization.

The success of the 2017 National Golf Day exemplifies the value of collaboration within our industry and the progress that can be achieved by working together. While this massive undertaking every year encompasses all the allied groups we are most familiar with: CMAA, GCSAA, NGCOA, PGA TOUR, The PGA of America, USGA, U.S Golf Manufacturers Council and the World Golf Foundation, it is important to understand that they are not the only ones benefitting or advocating for our game and turfgrass management.

Below is a small collection of initiatives that too often fly under the radar but with further support, could be even more amazing and beneficial to all of us who love the game.

Wee One Foundation

The Wee One Foundation was founded in 2004, when friends of Wayne Otto, CGCS, banded together to financially assist him in his battle with cancer. Wayne was a pioneer in the turf industry, always searching for new and better ways to produce a finer playing surface. As Wayne learned more about his disease, he applied those same pioneering principles to overcome his illness.

Through the perseverance and hard work of several of Wayne’s friends, a mission was developed to help those in need. Founded on the principle of assisting golf course management professionals (or their dependents) who incur overwhelming expenses due to medical hardship or who are without comprehensive insurance or adequate financial resources, the Foundation has evolved into a cause that goes way beyond its initial reason for existence.

Since its inception, the Wee One Foundation has gifted over $1,000,000 to those in need. The foundation raises money through its membership, golf outings and sponsorships.

If you need help or know someone who does, visit the foundation's website

The First Green

The First Green is an innovative environmental education outreach program that uses golf courses as environmental learning labs. The program has extensive resources for golf course superintendents, including online lesson plans, and facilitates connections between golf courses and local schools and science/horticulture teachers.

Golf superintendents, course staff and/or local industry representatives (such as regional associations and members) host students on field trips, where they test water quality, collect soil samples, identify plants, preserve wildlife habitats, assist in stream-bed restoration and learn about the ecology, conservation and environmental aspects of golf courses. The kids also visit the practice green or hit balls at the driving range – giving them their first taste of the game.

First Green has been providing STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) learning labs since 1997. To learn more about The First Green, or to read about a 2013 field trip, visit The First Green or the Connecticut Clippings newsletter.

Project Evergreen

Project EverGreen is a national non-profit organization committed to creating a greener, cooler earth by supporting the creation, renovation and revitalization of managed recreational and athletic green spaces that result in healthier, happier people. Initiatives include GreenCare for Troops, SnowCare for Troops and “Healthy Turf. Healthy Kids.”

Project EverGreen’s GreenCare for Troops and SnowCare for Troops programs provide complimentary lawn and landscape services, and snow and ice removal services for the families of currently deployed military personnel, as well as post 9/11 disabled veterans with a service-connected disability.

Studies confirm there is significant value in having children spend time outdoors playing, and Project EverGreen’s “Healthy Turf. Healthy Kids.” has its sights set on restoring and revitalizing green spaces, including sports fields and parks, for children to play, exercise and connect.

To learn more and find out how you can participate, visit the Project EverGreen website.

The Grass Roots Initiative

The U.S. National Arboretum's Grass Roots Initiative is a four-year, in-depth look at the science behind this familiar, but often misunderstood landscape plant.  

The exhibit opened in October 2014 with 12 interactive displays, and two more were added the following year. Each section provides information about the uses of turfgrass, its importance to modern society, its history and best management practices for maintenance. Among the displays are a compact golf hole, sports fields, lawn areas with swards of six warm-season and four cool-season turfgrass species, more than 30 different ornamental grass species, and a rain garden showing the ability of grass to absorb water and nutrients.

Please understand that this is not a plea to support each of the above initiatives. In some form or fashion, GCSAA already has a relationship with these groups, so you as members do too! This information is offered simply to keep you informed of the resources available to you and benefitting you. 

Should you need help as you get started growing the game by hosting a local school, or working to benefit a local service member, just understand you are not alone. There are resources and people ready, able and quite willing to assist you in achieving your goal. Now you know who and how to ask!

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