Teens on Turf
This May, eight Langley high school students went to university for a week. For five days, they attended a Langley KPU mini course at the KPU Turf Lab taught by Turf Management Department Instructors Stan Kazymerchyk and Rob Welsh.
The KPU Turf Lab is hidden away beside the Horticulture buildings and is actually a three-hole golf course. This became the student's classroom for the week. The curriculum included a tour of the campus, workplace expectations, workplace safety and how to act and work on fairways and greens. What excited the students the most was the opportunity to get hands on training operating trimmers, backpack blowers, push mowers, triplex ride on mowers, golf carts and a Gator.
The tuition free Teens on Turf course was unique in many ways as students selected had to enjoy working outdoors and be interested in operating equipment. They also had diverse learning challenges. However, on the Turf Lab these challenged students looked like regular university students as they listened intently to Stan and Rob’s step by step instructions and practiced operating each piece of equipment.
“The thing that really struck me,” noted Langley School District work experience teacher Marvin Moedt, “was that every day these 8 guys were on time, had their boots and gloves and were ready to learn. Something happens to even the most challenged learners when you introduce them to hands-on activities and when you give them real life problems. I was so impressed with the learning and teamwork one day as I was watching three students trying to start a weedie (string trimmer) and they were talking about the ‘primer button’, the ‘throttle’, the ‘choke’ and whether it was ‘flooded’ or not. No one was on their phone and they were all focused on that piece of equipment.”
“Stan and Rob deserve all the credit for the success of this project,” explained Moedt. "They created a work-oriented and safety-oriented atmosphere that the students understood. They treated the students like competent workers and the students rose to meet those expectations. It doesn’t get any better than this.”
Amadeus Landrath, a grade 11 student from Walnut Grove Secondary, thought the best thing about the week was driving the triplex mower. “I learned how to mow fairways and greens the proper way. Even if I don’t end up working on a golf course, I learned a lot of good skills." Ben Gunn, a Langley Secondary student, enthused that he learned…how to work with equipment safely and effectively. “I really want to work at a golf course because I love the job and I know I can get up early.”
The ‘final exam’ took place on Friday as students circulated through eight stations while being observed by Superintendents from local golf courses. Supes gave out words of encouragement, descriptions for entry level jobs and invited students to turn in resumes. Several students hope to start work on a golf course soon.
"Teens on Turf 2019 was a pilot project that we hope we can do again", says Moedt. "This type of project is an excellent example of the kind of partnerships the School District and Kwantlen Polytechnic University could do more of. It makes the transition out of high school easier as students become aware of post secondary programs. It is especially valuable for our more challenged learners and those with barriers to employment. The confidence and skills our eight students gained was amazing.”