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Five facts about GCSAA’s First Green program in celebration of Earth Day 2020

by Apr 14, 2020 | Kate Hiebert

Innovative STEM education program uses golf courses as learning labs

Lawrence, Kan. (April 14, 2020) – Since 2018, the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America’s (GCSAA) First Green program has been pairing golf courses with local schools across the country for unique science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) learning opportunities that also showcase the environmental and community benefits of golf courses.

Although many schools are closed currently due to the coronavirus pandemic for Earth Day 2020, when schools resume in the fall, so will the opportunities for First Green field trips. During the field trips, teachers and golf course superintendents work together to tailor lesson plans to the school’s curriculum. When the students arrive the golf course environment becomes the star. Putting greens morph into math problems, sand, clay and silt offer lessons in soil science, and small streams transform into living laboratories for experiments with water sources, quality and flow rate.

First Green came under the family of GCSAA programs in 2018 but was founded in 1997 in the Pacific Northwest. The collaboration with GCSAA allowed the program to expand nationwide.

“For many of the kids, their First Green field trip is the first time they have experienced being on a golf course,” GCSAA CEO Rhett Evans said. “We are proud that our hands-on curriculum is not only providing vital STEM lessons, but also enlightening them on the environmental benefits golf courses bring to their communities.”

In honor of Earth Day, here are five ways First Green is bringing is helping teach students more about the environment:

1. Since 2018, more than 3,000 students from Maryland to Hawaii have had the opportunity to apply their classroom knowledge in an outdoor setting during First Green field trips.

2. Water conservation and water quality management are key elements of First Green water lessons, including identify measures that golf courses can use to protect water and what steps students can take at home.

3. First Green students learn that the average 18-hole golf course is situated on 150 acres of land that provide vital wildlife habitats and corridors that link to other natural areas.

4. Golf courses are greenspaces that foster healthy turfgrass and soil. As part of First Green soil lessons, students are asked to identify three components of soil and the ideal mixture of soil components that support growth of healthy trees and plants.

5. First Green helps built a sense of community as raising awareness for conservation brings people together for a common cause. To learn more about First Green, visit