US$500,000 Donation to Environmental Institute for Golf

Kansas, United States: The Kendrick B. Melrose Family Foundation has donated US$500,000 to the Environmental Institute for Golf (EIFG), the philanthropic organisation of the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA), to support First Green, which provides hands-on STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education at golf courses.

The Melrose Family Foundation is supported by Ken Melrose, former Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Toro Co. He retired as CEO in 2005 and from the Chairman position in 2006. That same year he formed Leading by Serving, LLC, a new company whose mission is to advance the principles of servant leadership in business organisations.

First Green came under the family of GCSAA programmes in 2018 but was founded in 1997 in the Pacific Northwest. 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. In the year since GCSAA took over operations of First Green, more than 2,000 students from Maryland to Hawaii have participated in First Green field trips.

“As the child of an educator, I am pleased to have the opportunity to support a programme that provides hands-on education while introducing students to the many benefits of the game of golf,” said Melrose. “Under GCSAA’s direction, First Green has expanded nationally and is reaching more students than ever before. STEM education is vital in preparing students for the future, and I am proud to be a part of that.”

Melrose’s mother, Dorothy Lumley Melrose, taught maths, English and public speaking at Memorial Junior High School in Orlando in the 1940s and 1950s. In 2014, Melrose honoured his mother’s memory with the creation of the Dorothy Lumley Melrose Centre for Technology, Innovation and Creativity at the Orlando Public Library.

This is the third large gift to GCSAA and the EIFG from the Melrose Foundation. In 2012, the foundation gave US$1 million to endow the Melrose Leadership Academy, which focuses on professional development for golf course superintendents through opportunities to attend the annual Golf Industry Show. Since it began, 113 superintendents have experienced the Melrose Leadership Academy.

In February, a second US$1 million gift was announced to create the Melrose Equipment Management Endowment. The endowment will have four focus areas: continuing education, a certificate programme, growing membership in GCSAA and the Melrose Equipment Management Experience, which will bring GCSAA-member equipment managers to the GIS for leadership and education sessions. These are the two largest individual gifts in the GCSAA’s history.

“GCSAA is truly blessed to have Ken Melrose as a good friend,” said Rhett Evans, GCSAA Chief Executive Officer. “His generous gifts have made a difference in the professional lives of superintendents and equipment managers and have helped us fulfil our mission of serving our members and advancing the profession.

“Now, he is helping us achieve the third part of our mission, which is growing the game of golf. Countless school children around the county will be the beneficiaries of Ken’s latest philanthropic act.”

In addition to Melrose’s work through Leading by Serving, he is also actively serving on the Board of Directors for the Centre for Ethical Business Cultures, Park Nicollet Health Services, The Melrose Institute for Eating Disorders, and others. He is also a member of the faculty at the Opus School of Business at the University of St Thomas.

Melrose is a native of Orlando and earned a double major in mathematics and electrical engineering from Princeton in 1962. He received his master’s degree from the Sloan School of Management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and later an MBA from the University of Chicago.

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