What's it Like at Turf School During CoVid Times?

KPU Turf students and Faculty reflect on the past few months:

On Lectures?

"Most lectures are recorded and uploaded, but some require scheduled attendance.  We also use online discussion sessions that are recorded.  Convenience is the big plus of this system.  Recorded lectures are not subject to time and place, so it is now possible for us to listen to lectures whenever and wherever we want with stable internet.  Major issue is the personal experience difference of face to face (F2F) learning.  It can be hard to get motivated watching videos just for lectures when we are used to Netflix and other platforms.  I miss the old face to face classes and ‘without a mask'." 

On Labs?

"I personally believe that F2F format for labs was way better than what we have now, especially the practical.  Observation of all turf machinery such as greens mower, rough mower, fairway units, bunker rakes and so many more.  Also, the experience of using them.  We still get some live F2F labs while keeping all CoVid safety measures in mind.  But, still it's less than what we had before and worst part is we don’t know how long it's going to be like this.  It’s a hard pill to swallow but this is reality everywhere now."

On personal & work life?

"Work life hasn’t been affected too much.  Now I can work full and continuous shifts.  I don’t have to leave early to adjust my legal weekly hours or work three random days a week just because I have classes.  None of that exists for now.  Even with personal life.  I can watch lectures early morning or before going to bed and can have rest of the day as my day off and I can run my errands.  So new format has a major positive effect on work and personal life."

On Turf Club?

"It’s sad that some of the Turf Club’s main charity fundraising events have been cancelled due to CoVid.  Meetings are via email/text or Zoom meetings.  This year we are putting all our efforts into our annual Pat Dooley Memorial Golf Tournament this upcoming April and are very much looking forward to this fun and memorable day.  The even gets better each year and I for one am excited to make the 2021 tourney April 23 the best one yet!

Not connecting in person with other members feels not very club-like.  We all want to use our personal time to help out with events but really it comes down to the safety of everyone and it’s just not worth the risk of gathering or making social events where family and friends and industry members get together for an event for now.  We all have to do our part to stop the spread."

Where I am in my career now?

Nishant Kumar:
"I am now working part-time at Surrey Golf Course as a greenskeeper for last 9 months (full-time in summer) and trying to acquire knowledge and experience.  My job has kept me in the loop, as whatever I watch in lectures I could go to work and look it up next day.  I am thankful to my boss, Steve Peardon, who spares extra time from his busy schedule just to make things clear to me." 

Josh Carlsen:

"I am working full-time as Foreman at Township of Langley Parks and attending KPU part-time.  I plan to graduate with my Turf diploma in 2021, then ladder into year 3 of my KPU Business degree.  My career goal is to continue up to higher levels of responsibility within Township of Langley."

Stan Kazymerchyk, Turf Management Lead Instructor

Faculty Summary:

A famous writer once said, "Rumours of my death are grossly exaggerated".  KPU Turf class sizes this Fall are better than average.  Eight new Turf students have joined the Turf world this fall.  Four of them are already with Golf or Parks while the other four are new to Turf, which is fairly typical.  They join the 12 Turf students already here.  The other students comprising Turf classes are Landscape or General diploma students taking Turf courses for interest.  At least 14 potential new Turf students are considering Spring 2021 intake but we won't know real numbers until late December.  Most Turf students are progressing on their own schedule around work and personal, usually at a pace to complete diploma in 3-5 years.

Adapting course material to online format takes a tremendous amount of time for Faculty.  Learning how to learn online can be challenging for students.  Transitioning to mainly online delivery has been a steep learning curve for both Faculty and Students, but it has gone overall better than expected.  We are all very happy to have committed to this preventative approach, as we have seen no connection of illness with our activity. 

The big plus for this format is how students can easily adapt their education around work and personal life.  Down-side is the reduction in personal connection time for students, both with Faculty and other students.  Faculty also miss the personal interaction with students and industry.  Student feedback we get this Fall will definitely shape our delivery to better personalize these connections.  KPU has committed to the same format for Spring 2021.  Health care realities will guide our direction for Fall 2021 and beyond, but right now we don't really know for sure whether we will continue on this way or revert back to traditional delivery beyond this Spring. 

I personally suspect that the long-term product may be some form of hybrid system involving minimal attendance-based lecture and more F2F Lab time than present.  The Lab time may perhaps be adapted to be more flexible for student's time.  Coincidentally, this was likely the direction our Turf grass Program Review feedback was indicating.  The Turfgrass Program Review has been temporarily put on hold, but the final direction will likely evolve with the "new post-secondary reality" that will soon unfold.

Josh Carlsen, Nishant Kumar and Stan Kazymerchyk