Langley students introduced to new 'field' of study in first North American event

Thu, Jun 16, 2016

Langley, B.C. – A class of Grade 9 students from Langley Secondary School had the chance to experience North America’s inaugural First Green on Sportsfields event thanks to a collaborative effort between several local organizations.

Hosted at McLeod Athletic Park, Langley students visited several stations where instructors and alumni from Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s (KPU) turf management program covered topics in science, technology, engineering and math, blending theory with demonstrations and hands-on interactive activities to showcase the value of an outdoor career in turf grass management.

“This was a great opportunity to see kids apply their math and science skills to this type of an approach, and let them know there are all kinds of opportunities out there in this area for future employment,” said Gord Stewart, acting superintendent of schools for Langley School District 35.

First Green is a unique Seattle-based non-profit organization that provides environmental and science-based learning labs on golf courses throughout the U.S. The Langley event was the first time the group hosted labs on a sportsfield.

“Sportsfields are a major part of our community’s health and well-being. This was an opportunity to work with young people and give them some insight into how we manage these important and busy facilities. There is a lot involved in sportsfield maintenance, but it can be a really rewarding career,” said KPU turf grass management alumnus Brad Waters, who currently works for the Township of Langley.

Waters showed students the components, controls, physics and math involved with turf irrigation. KPU instructor Rob Welsh showcased the mechanics and safe use of powered backpack blowers, and gave students the chance to navigate an obstacle course propelling coloured ping-pong balls.

“Getting young people interested and exposed to a trade early on in their education is so important as we look forward. This event allowed a group of students to meet the people in the turf industry and allows those same people to pass on their energy and passion,” said Welsh.

Additional activities included a session on soil chemistry and turf fertility, provided by TerraLink Horticulture’s Doug Speranza. The Township of Langley’s Dan Allan – also a KPU turf management graduate – covered the cultural processes of aeration, topdressing and overseeding.

“I take any chance I can get to bring my students outside the classroom where they can apply science and math and do hands-on things,” said Langley Secondary teacher Alyssa Pagnanini, “They had a great time and did math today without me pushing!”

“Sportsfields are usually adjacent to schools, and students tend to develop a natural curiosity about turf management because they see our operations on a daily basis," said Stan Kazymerchyk, a KPU turf management instructor. "This session gave students an appreciation of our profession from a sportsfield user’s perspective, and a great preview of the turf grass management world as a potential career.” 

KPU, the Township of Langley and TerraLink Horticulture provided staff and resources to ensure the hands-on day was a success. The Western Canada Turfgrass Association (WCTA) provided guidance, and initial Langley Secondary teacher input was critical to aligning school learning needs with turf topics and levels of instruction.

The WCTA is First Green’s authorized organization to promote their trademarked programs, training and field trips throughout Western Canada. The WCTA initiated the Canadian premiere of First Green on Golf Courses at The Vancouver Golf Club and Redwoods Golf Course. 

For more information on First Green, visit To learn about KPU’s turf management diploma program, visit

Local turf grass managers and golf course superintendents interested in hosting a First Green event or learning more may contact Stan Kazymerchyk at

Kwantlen Polytechnic University has served the Metro Vancouver region since 1981, and has opened doors to success for more than 200,000 learners. Four campuses—Richmond, Surrey, Cloverdale and Langley—offer a comprehensive range of sought-after programs in business, liberal arts, design, health, science and horticulture, trades and technology, and academic and career advancement. Over 19,000 students annually have a choice from over 120 programs, including bachelor’s degrees, associate degrees, diplomas, certificates, citations and apprenticeships. Learn more at    

Photos from First Green On Sportsfields are available on Flickr.

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

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