Metro Vancouver, B.C. – Over the course of three inspirational days, four local teens living with complex needs participated in a unique greenskeeper training course at Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s (KPU) Langley campus, and Surrey’s Eaglequest Coyote Creek Golf Club.
Formed in collaboration with the Surrey School District and Coyote Creek, the training was custom-designed and organized by KPU turf management instructor Stan Kazymerchyk to address the special learning needs of the participating students. KPU instructors teamed up with local golf course staff to deliver turf management skills essential to an entry-level greenskeeping job.
“This is a follow-up to our inaugural event last May; an uplifting collaboration between industry, community and educational partners,” said Kazymerchyk. “It showcases how well we can all work together to create unique learning and career opportunities for teens living with complex needs.”
Students first learned turf management basics at the KPU Langley field lab. KPU instructor Rob Welsh showed students how to safely operate electric carts and Gator turf vehicles. Keith Andrew of Coyote Creek guided teens on sand bunker care and divot repairs. Kazymerchyk covered workplace expectations and interpersonal interaction on the golf course.
“The overall development of these young adults over a very short period of time was extremely exciting to witness,” said Coyote Creek superintendent Byron Duffy, who choreographed on-site opportunities that allowed students to perform their newly learned skills under game conditions. “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.”
After last year’s event, two of the participating students were hired to work the summer season at Coyote Creek. One of them stayed on part-time over the winter, and is now part of the site’s regular crew. This year, all four students have already found work for the summer; three of them at Coyote Creek.
“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.
“This was an amazing experience for me because I got to learn how to operate new equipment, which is something that I have never been able to do before. It also helped me meet new people and get to know them,” said one of the participating students. “I'm so grateful that they took the time to train me in such a professional way. I look forward to the opportunity to work with such a spectacular group of amazing people. I would recommend anyone given the opportunity to be able to go and experience this amazing program.”
For more information on KPU’s turf management diploma program, visit kpu.ca/hort/turf.
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 kpu.ca.