Going Beyond The Game: FedExCup Fore!Ever
I grew up around the game of golf. My father was an avid player and while he tried to pass along this heritage, I could more often be found running through the woods to find stray golf balls rather than on the tee box. Despite the fact I’m not a golfer today, I’ve always had an affinity for the sport and its interaction with nature. Apparently, I am not alone.
Last year, FedEx was introduced to Audubon International, an organization that provides environmental certification programs for businesses, communities, and of course, golf courses. Together with the PGA TOUR and The First Tee, one of golf’s premier youth organizations, we established the FedExCup Fore!Ever program. The goal was to educate and empower today’s young golfers to understand how golf courses can positively impact the environment, leading them to become stewards of the game and the planet. This program combines education with action through curriculum-based learning for students of The First Tee and hands-on, eco-friendly course improvements in communities that host PGA TOUR tournaments.
Since we started in January, we’ve funded projects at The First Tee of Pasadena near Los Angeles and The First Tee of Greater Houston. This week, we’ll be doing the same with The First Tee of Fort Worth in Texas. The FedExCup Fore! Ever program has already reached hundreds of youth, inspired dozens of local FedEx employee volunteers to lend a hand, and caught the attention of community leaders, PGA TOUR Pros and local Chapters of The First Tee from across the country in the process.
To better understand the FedExCup Fore!Ever program and its potential impact on junior golfers and local communities, I sat down with Joe O’Brien, Senior Director of Education and Outcomes for The First Tee, and Joellen Lampman, Program Manager for Audubon International.
Q. What was the motivation to create the FedExCup Fore! Ever Program?
Joe O’Brien: The First Tee is a youth development organization that teaches golf and life skills in a seamless manner. Our goal is to help children develop character and become better future citizens by teaching them nine core values through our curriculum: honesty, integrity, sportsmanship, respect, confidence, responsibility, perseverance, courtesy, and judgment. The FedExCup Fore!Ever program was created to offer our students a new and relevant way of learning about two of those core values – respect and responsibility – as they relate to the environment.
Q. What is Audubon International’s role in the FedExCup Fore!Ever program?
Joellen Lampman: Audubon International serves two roles. First, we have developed an 18-lesson “green golfer” curriculum specifically for The First Tee to use in Chapters across the country with a variety of eco-conscience activities to help the students connect with nature at their Chapter courses. Secondly, we work hand-in-hand with local Chapter leaders and course superintendents to identify hands-on improvements that students can make to bring the mission of the program to life, enabling them take action to improve the property that The First Tee participants have come to call their own.
Q: Why involve youth in sustainable golf? Why not only target course superintendents?
Joellen Lampman: Children are the leaders of tomorrow and helping them understand what it takes to maintain a golf course and how they can help make golf more sustainable will have far-reaching consequences. Golf courses are unique because they offer children living classrooms that are not only places to have fun, they are habitats for dozens, if not hundreds of plants and animals. Children have a natural curiosity and when it comes to the environment, simply making them aware of the ecosystem that surrounds them and the role they can play in it piques that curiosity, which leads to investigation, then understanding, and then caring. The FedExCup Fore!Ever program helps open their eyes to the beauty that surrounds them while teaching them how they can help protect and care for their environment. The lessons they learn through the program can last a lifetime.
Q: How has the FedEx Cup Fore! Ever program been received from the local Chapters of The First Tee?
Joe O’Brien: When the program was announced, Chapters from all over the network called to see how they could be a part of this effort. The Board and volunteer leaders of local Chapters want to provide a broad, meaningful, and impactful curriculum to their communities and they feel that the FedExCup Fore!Ever program with the curriculum and guidance of Audubon International offers just that. This fall, every Chapter of The First Tee will have the necessary tools to be involved in the program, and we are excited to see the energy that will result in the students and volunteers as they work together to improve their local courses.
Q: What do you hope results from the FedExCup Fore!Ever Program?
Joe O’Brien: Our hope is that the curriculum and tools provided by FedEx, Audubon International and the PGA TOUR will be fully utilized by the all of the Chapters of The First Tee so that tens of thousands of participants will increase their environmental awareness and commitment to a greener planet.
Joellen Lampman: By working together with The First Tee, FedEx and the PGA TOUR, we hope to inspire the children who are involved in the program to use their knowledge by making a difference on and off the course. We start each course improvement day with a game that shows the children how we are all connected and teaches them that what affects one of us affects us all, and it is a lesson that we hope will stick with them throughout their lives.
The next stop of the FedExCup Fore!Ever program is Fort Worth, Texas where more than 100 junior golfers will join dozens of local FedEx employee volunteers to improve the Rockwood Golf Course, home of The First Tee of Fort Worth. The event will take place in advance of the Crowne Plaza Invitational happening at Colonial Golf Club in Fort Worth May 24-30, 2010