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Retired Toro Executive Mike Hoffman's family fund donates $1 million to enhance GCSAA’s First Green with STEAM Ahead Initiative

by Jan 31, 2024 | Angela Hartmann


Gift enables First Green to add the Arts  to expand from STEM to STEAM  education

Lawrence, Kan. (Jan. 31, 2024) – The Michael J. and Tamara Rae Hoffman Family Charitable Gift Fund has donated $1 million to GCSAA’s First Green program, the hands-on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education program of the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA). The Mike and Tami Hoffman “STEAM Ahead” Initiative will fund the addition  of arts  to First Green, which will elevate it from a STEM curriculum to a STEAM (science, technology,  engineering, art, and math) curriculum.

Mike Hoffman, retired chairman and CEO of the Toro Company, along  with GCSAA CEO Rhett Evans, announced this gift in spectacular fashion by dropping a banner from the top of the Phoenix Convention Center while suspended 60 feet above the Trade Show Grand Opening.  at the 2024 GCSAA Conference and Trade Show. Hoffman and Evans were then lowered to the stage via a lift where they were greeted by cheering high school students from Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG) at Tonopah (Ariz.) Valley High School. Joining them on the stage was JAG Valley High School teacher Hannah Olver. During the ceremony Hoffman presented checks to the GCSAA as well as to Tonopah Valley High School to fund the inaugural Mike and Tami Hoffman Classroom Grant.

Founded in 1997, the GCSAA First Green program is the only education and environmental outreach program using golf courses as learning labs. Since its inception, GCSAA First Green has reached over 11,000 students in the United States and Canada through learning labs that bring the classroom to life on the golf course. The program  also gives students a first-hand look at the important role superintendents play in their communities. Within the last two years, the program has expanded to the U.K. and Australia.

The new STEAM curriculum will equip students with skills, knowledge and a mindset to succeed in a rapidly changing world and prepare for a wider range of career opportunities. The arts curriculum encompasses more than just traditional fine arts, but also includes aspects such as graphic design and architecture. With the arts component, GCSAA First Green will be able to reach a more diverse student base by appealing to students not drawn to traditional STEM subjects.

“Tami and I are pleased to be able to amplify the message of GCSAA’s First Green,” Mike Hoffman said. “It is such an innovative program that not only introduces the many benefits that golf courses provide to their communities and the knowledge and skill needed to manage them, but it also shows students that the golf industry is a viable career path with many opportunities. Being able to support adding the arts element to First Green seems appropriate given the beautiful landscapes golf provides all around the world. The golf industry has made such a positive impact on our lives, and we hope our gift will have a similar impact on First Green students.”

In addition to adding creative arts stations to the GCSAA’s First Green field trip lineup, the Mike and Tami Hoffman STEAM Ahead Initiative will also enhance First Green by:

  • Providing the Mike and Tami Hoffman Classroom Grants to enable teachers to offer classroom curriculum prior to their First Green field trip.
  • Expanding First Green curriculum from elementary and middle school to high school as a way to introduce high schoolers to careers in golf.
  • Expanding First Green Liaisons (GCSAA members who serve as mentors and promote the program) to power more field trips.

    “GCSAA is deeply appreciative of the Hoffmans’ generous gift, GCSAA CEO Rhett Evans said. “Throughout his career at Toro, Mike made an indelible mark on the golf industry, and he’s continuing that legacy and making a difference in the lives of the thousands of students who participate in GCSAA’s First Green field trips every year.”

    The enhancements to GCSAA’s First Green funded by the Mike and Tami Hoffman STEAM Ahead Initiative will be rolled out later in 2024. To learn more about GCSAA First Green, visit