Liberty Corner, New Jersey, United States: The United States Golf Association (USGA) has committed US$20,000 in funding support to the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA) and GCSAA’s philanthropic organisation, the Environmental Institute for Golf (EIFG), for First Green, which provides hands-on STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) education at golf courses.
Prior to GCSAA assuming leadership of First Green in 2018, the USGA was a long-time supporter of the programme, which had its origins in the Pacific Northwest.
Founded in 1997, First Green is the only STEM education and environmental outreach programme that uses golf courses as learning labs. Each field trip averages 75 students who learn about golf and the environment. For most students, these ‘outdoor classrooms’ represent their first exposure to a golf course.
“First Green is the first introduction to golf for many students, and so we are very fortunate to have the USGA as an ally in making it happen,” GCSAA CEO Rhett Evans said. “This programme is just one of many where the USGA’s dedication to the game shows through its support of GCSAA and the superintendents we serve.”
Kimberly Erusha, PhD, USGA Managing Director, Green Section, said: “It’s been exciting to support the continual growth of First Green and its efforts to get kids engaged in the exciting science of golf. This programme is another part of GCSAA’s overall efforts to promote golf course superintendents and it’s a great way for the USGA to continue our commitment to environmental stewardship in golf.”
The USGA also financially supports GCSAA’s Best Management Practices initiative, which has a goal of establishing golf course best management practices in all 50 states by 2020. The USGA committed US$800,000 to the initiative to help support an online resource that expedites and simplifies creation of golf course BMP programmes at the State level.
The USGA also provided funding for the second phase of GCSAA’s Golf Course Environmental Profile, a ground-breaking project launched in 2006 to develop a comprehensive environmental profile of golf courses in the United States.
The USGA is a member of the EIFG’s Platinum Tee Club, which recognises donors who contribute US$5,000 or more annually, and has reached the Victory Club level – the highest level – in the EIFG’s Cumulative Giving Programme, which includes donors who have given US$1 million or more since 1987.