Through the contribution, announced at the Golf Industry Show, the manufacturer will become a Trustee of the non-profit youth organization. The donated funds, in part, will be used to create and launch a golf maintenance career-oriented youth development program, in conjunction with the PGA TOUR.
On February 7 at the Golf Industry Show (GIS) in San Diego, John Deere announced that it will donate $1 million over five years to The First Tee® and become a Trustee of the non-profit youth organization, which provides life skills and character-education programs for young people, using golf as a platform.
The official announcement was made at the GIS by James M. Field, President of John Deere’s Worldwide Agriculture and Turf Division, and Joe Louis Barrow, Jr., Chief Executive Officer of The First Tee.
The First Tee (www.thefirsttee.org), based in the World Golf Village in St. Augustine, Fla., is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit youth development organization whose mission is to impact the lives of young people by providing educational programs that build character, instill life-enhancing values and promote healthy choices through the game of golf. The First Tee reaches young people on golf courses, in elementary schools, at other youth-serving locations and on military installations. Since its inception in 1997, The First Tee has introduced the game of golf and its values to more than 7.6 million young people in all 50 United States and four international locations.
The First Tee is an initiative of the World Golf Foundation and its Founding Partners are LPGA, the Masters Tournament, PGA of America, PGA TOUR and the USGA. Shell Oil Company is The First Tee’s Founding Corporate Partner and Johnson & Johnson is its Legacy Partner. Former President George W. Bush serves as honorary chair.
The $1 million donation from John Deere will be used to enhance the experience of The First Tee participants in a variety of ways. Besides supporting The First Tee network, funds will be used to create and launch a golf maintenance career-oriented youth development program, in conjunction with the PGA TOUR. Local chapters of The First Tee will partner with the TOUR’s Tournament Player Courses (TPC) to provide the opportunity for high school-aged participants to learn about topics in agronomy and golf course maintenance careers. As a planned extension, participants will also have the chance to experience what it’s like to maintain a TPC golf course during a tournament week.
In addition, a portion of the donation will be dedicated to funding development programs connected to the John Deere Classic—a PGA TOUR event held each year near the company’s World Headquarters in Moline, Ill.
“At The First Tee, we rely on strong partners like John Deere Golf to help us carry out our ambitious efforts to reach 10 million additional young people between 2011 and 2017,” said Joe Louis Barrow. “We’re thankful that in addition to their substantial donation, John Deere will help us develop a program to teach our participants about turf care and what it means to be a leader in the golf industry.”
The donation further emphasizes Deere’s active commitment to the game of golf and the career development of professionals in the golf maintenance industry, and is consistent with the company’s various citizenship initiatives that target education, training, and community enrichment.
“We have a long history of providing unique learning and networking opportunities for turf care professionals, and we are deeply engaged in the golf industry as the official equipment supplier of the PGA TOUR® and title sponsor of a PGA TOUR event,” said Field. “Our donation to The First Tee allows us to demonstrate this fierce commitment to golf through support of an outstanding and proven program for youth development. We are thrilled to provide our support of this initiative at many levels of our enterprise, including volunteer programs at John Deere units around the U.S.”
Within the golf industry, John Deere already supports an array of initiatives, including unique educational experiences to fill vital needs such as the Green Start Academy for Assistant Superintendents, and the Golf Course Superintendent Association of America’s Collegiate Turf Bowl competition. The company also supports the Association itself at the highest level, as a Platinum Partner.
“A donation of this magnitude is incredibly meaningful to John Deere,” said Mara Sovey, the company’s Director, Corporate Citizenship. “Our participation will provide The First Tee with resources to help reach so many more young people, to volunteer with local chapters, and to fuel the curiosity and development of young minds eager to explore careers in the turf care industry.”