International Turf Students at KPU

by Stan Kazymerchyk, Frank Koo, Nishant Kumar, Ardit Kapri and Steve Peardon

KPU has seen a large increase in International students since 2017, just like most other Canadian universities. Some have chosen Horticulture for their educational path and of these, some have discovered the passion of Turf Management that we all share.


Some KPU Turf students at 2020 WCTA Conference (image courtesy KPU):
Stan Kazymerchyk (KPU), Nathan Hagel (Mount Paul GC), Brendan McLaughlin (Westwood Plateau GC), Nishant Kumar (India), Ardit Kapri (Albania), Dallin Hummelle (Quilchena GC), Frank Koo (South Korea), Kirandeep Kaur (India), Kiranjit Kaur (India). 

Three International Turf students were asked the following questions:

How did you end up in Canada for your education?
Why did you choose Turf Management?
Who have you worked for here?
What you especially enjoy about being in Turf?
Where do see your career going?

Here is a summary of their stories, along with thoughts from a local Superintendent with the most exposure to their performance.

Frank Koo

I came to Canada from South Korea to educate my children and to find a new career.  I needed a practical and attainable career and chose the Horticulture program at KPU.

In my first 6 months in Vancouver, my children were in school while I played golf on weekends with friends. Then I decided to change my life, adapt to my new environment and continue life’s journey.  What does turf work mean to me in my 50's with a responsibility to support my family?  The golf industry seemed to provide not only a sustainable way of recreating my life but also the most rewarding work, since I can work and learn at the same time.

I have worked at two courses here, Mayfair Lakes GC and Morgan Creek GC.  Though my roles were not big, I was in the middle of adaptation and I have been satisfied with chances to prove that I am qualified to learn more.  I am grateful to the superintendents, Steve May and Alan Ayres who have given me a chance to understand maintenance work and to experience how diligent workers contribute to their responsibilities in every position given. 

As a turf student, sometimes I daydream...what if the ball becomes a little bigger with the same mass to reduce the impact on greens and to increase the air resistance on balls, and to reduce the carried distance.  We can then find balls easier and the height of cut can be increased accordingly if the ball becomes larger.  Play can perhaps become less fun and players may oppose the change.  However, I think this is much more sustainable.

I want to work towards changing practices in a more sustainable way and to help people work and play in a healthy environment.

Nishant Kumar

I came to Canada from India for my diploma in Horticulture Technology.

I was always an athletic person and had a keen interest in sports.  Back home when I watched cricket, I saw glimpses of Grounds Crew at work and always wondered what they were doing.  I had absolutely no idea about the Turf industry when I came here. 

I randomly registered for three subjects and one of them was 'Turfgrass Operations'.  After my first lecture things changed.  I started to get a sense of how important the role of Grounds Crew is, which is unseen on TV.  During our field trips, I got an opportunity to see a golf course for the first time ever in my life and I was flabbergasted.  The level of precision on the greens mesmerized me.  By the end of the semester, I had made up my mind about joining the Turf industry. 

Soon enough, because of my interest in sports and passion for outdoor work, I decided to enter into the Turf industry.  Stan introduced me to my job at Surrey GC in February 2020 where my boss, Steve Peardon took me under his wing.  He helped me understand all the turf operations on golf courses like mowing, irrigation, and other daily basic tasks.  I worked full-time during the summer and part-time during the school year. 

This past year has been a most exciting time working in the turf industry.  I was a little skeptical about my job because it starts early morning, but things have changed.  Now I am always excited to be at work and do whatever I am told to do.  The reason I believe is visible results of everything I do and my passion for sports.

It is clear to me now that I want to pursue my career in turf industry.  I am planning to complete my diploma by the end of this year.  After my graduation, I will continue working in the turf industry.  One day I want to see myself working as a golf course superintendent.  Until that happens, I am going to keep working on my skills with the same passion.

Ardit Kapri

I chose to pursue my education in Canada due to a suggestion I received from a relative of mine.  I was told that BC is a great province to live, with many beautiful landscapes and great opportunities for youth.  As a person who loves outdoors and landscapes, horticulture is a great career fit for me.  I applied for my Horticulture diploma and obtained my study permit from KPU.  When I first landed in BC from a small town in Albania, I was stunned by the beautiful landscapes of the province and was very excited for the new opportunities both academically and professionally. 

During my KPU orientation, I had the chance to listen to a presentation about Turf Management from the Turf instructor at KPU.  In the beginning, I had no idea what the word ‘Turf’ meant and neither did I know there was even a career available with a Turf Diploma.  As I was listening, I slowly started to understand.  I had always liked golf courses but never thought I would be able to make it in such a high-profile industry.  Stan spoke enthusiastically about the many career opportunities that are available in managing golf courses.  I asked him if I had any chance to succeed in this industry coming from a different cultural and linguistic background. 

The instructor connected me to Guildford GC, the nearest golf course to my home.  In the beginning it was challenging for me since English is my second language and I didn’t know the names of many tools and equipment.  However, with the patience of superintendent Chris Morach and the crew, I managed to learn many duties related to the golf course.  I worked hard and did what I was told.  Chris was very satisfied with my work and I was fully convinced that the Turf industry is for me.  I love working at the golf course and decided to pursue the Turf Diploma.  In my second semester at KPU, I got my Pesticide Applicator Certificate, become Spray Technician at Guildford and have continued to work hard.

I have really enjoyed the projects that we have been working on and satisfying clients by improving the golf course.  Meeting many new people that are involved in different businesses and being able to perform all the turf duties makes me enjoy my job and pushes me to improve and set higher standards for myself. 

In the near future, I am hoping to be Assistant Superintendent at Guildford GC. 

Steve Peardon, Surrey GC Superintendent:

We have employed three International KPU Turf students over the last few years, both PT in school year and FT in summer.  They have proven to be punctual, reliable, honest and show strong work ethic.  Language has not been a significant issue.  

Progress was only a bit slow early on, but they quickly adapted to the equipment, jobs and the site.  These students listen attentively and follow instructions well.  When learning new jobs, they are careful, conscientious and soon get up to a productive pace.  They are keen to learn and often discuss class topics and projects with Kevin and myself.  

Culture has not been an issue, as they have blended in well with crew of all ages.  A great bonus has been sampling their real, home-made Indian cuisine brought in!  We have enjoyed watching them grow in confidence and comfort level.  One of them is just graduating and will soon be joining our crew FT.  We have no regrets at all, it is refreshing to have educated, dedicated youth on board.

KPU Turf Management Diploma