KPU educators and industry team up to create unique training for students living with FASD

Thu, Jun 11, 2015

Langley, B.C. – Over the course of three inspirational days, local teens living with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) participated in a unique greenskeeper training course at Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s (KPU) Langley campus.

Formed in collaboration with the Surrey School District, Eaglequest Coyote Creek Golf Course and Quilchena Golf & Country Club, the training was custom-designed and organized by KPU turfgrass management instructor Stan Kazymerchyk to address the special learning needs of the participating students, while giving them the industry skills needed to potentially gain employment at a local golf course.

“The idea for this training started with a simple conversation and snowballed into an uplifting collaboration between industry, community and educational partners,” said Kazymerchyk, who added that even Mark’s Work Wearhouse in Guildford got involved by donating steel-toed boots and work gloves for the students.

“Although this training was designed for students living with FASD, I created it so that it could be tailored to a variety of learning needs and outcomes. I think this whole event showcases how well we can all work together to create unique learning and career opportunities where there might not have been possibilities before.”

KPU instructors teamed up with local golf course superintendents to deliver some of the turfgrass management skills students enrolled in the university’s diploma program would gain, including weed trimming, working with a backpack blower, raking sand bunkers by hand and machine, operating golf carts and Gators, as well as learning about workplace expectations and interaction with golfers. The instructors who volunteered received special training from the Provincial Outreach Program for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder to ensure they had the right tools to effectively engage and work with the students to help build their confidence and sense of accomplishment.

“The level of authentic instruction and integrity among the instructors was incredible. It was a hugely supportive environment and these kids didn’t just learn job skills, they learned valuable life skills,” said Audrey Robinson, a special education teacher with the Surrey School District who helped coordinate with the students’ high school teachers to select those interested in hands-on outdoors work.

“It was truly amazing to see the students’ progress over the couple of days that I was fortunate enough to work with them. They proved to all of us that they are quick learners, resilient individuals and team-oriented workers,” enthused Jason Hooper, superintendent of the Quilchena Golf & Country Club in Richmond.

Eaglequest Coyote Creek Golf Course superintendent Byron Duffy helped Kazymerchyk organize on-site training at the Surrey course on the final day, which included tours of the clubhouse and the site’s turf care centre operations. Eaglequest also sponsored a lunch, where students were able to learn networking skills, connect with potential employers, and were recognized with a certificate for completing the training. 

“The overall development of these young adults over a very short period of time was extremely exciting to witness. Listening to their backgrounds from their teachers makes this small journey even more inspiring. I believe they learned something about values and respect not only for other people and property, but also for themselves,” said Duffy.

KPU horticulture programs provide students with an education beyond classroom learning. Combining theory with applied learning experience, students analyze and explore the world on a level most people never see. For more information, visit

Kwantlen Polytechnic University has been serving the Metro Vancouver region since 1981, and has opened doors to success for more than 250,000 people. Four campuses—Richmond, Surrey, Cloverdale and Langley—offer a comprehensive range of sought-after programs, including business, liberal arts, science, design, health, trades and technology, horticulture, and academic and career advancement. Over 19,000 students annually have a choice from over 124 programs, including bachelor’s degrees, associate degrees, diplomas, certificates citations and apprenticeships. Learn more at


Photos are available on Flickr.

Media contact:
Hayley Woodin
Media Specialist
t: 604.599.2883
c: 604.364.1288

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