Kendrick B. Melrose Family Foundation donates $500,000 to First Green

The Kendrick B. Melrose Family Foundation has donated $500,000 to the Environmental Institute for Golf (EIFG), the philanthropic organization of the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA), to support First Green, which provides hands-on STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education at golf courses.

The Melrose Family Foundation is supported by Ken Melrose, former CEO and chairman of the Toro Co. He retired as CEO in 2005 and from the chairman position in 2006. That same year he formed Leading by Serving, LLC, a new company whose mission is to advance the principles of servant leadership in business organizations.

First Green came under the family of GCSAA programs in 2018 but was founded in 1997 in Washington state and is still supported by the Washington State Golf Association. First Green is the only STEM education and environmental outreach program that uses golf courses as learning labs. Each field trip averages 75 students who learn about golf and the environment. For most students, these “outdoor classrooms” represent their first exposure to a golf course. In the year since GCSAA took over operations of First Green, more than 2,000 students from Maryland to Hawaii have participated in First Green field trips.

“As the child of an educator, I am pleased to have the opportunity to support a program that provides hands-on education while introducing students to the many benefits of the game of golf,” Melrose. “Under GCSAA’s direction, First Green has expanded nationally and is reaching more students than ever before. STEM education is vital in preparing students for the future, and I am proud to be a part of that.”

Melrose’s mother, Dorothy Lumley Melrose, taught math, English and public speaking at Memorial Junior High School in Orlando, Fla., in the 1940s and 1950s. In 2014, Melrose honored his mother’s memory with the creation of the Dorothy Lumley Melrose Center for Technology, Innovation and Creativity at the Orlando Public Library.

This is the third large gift to GCSAA and the EIFG from the Melrose Foundation. In 2012, the foundation gave $1 million to endow the Melrose Leadership Academy, which focuses on professional development for golf course superintendents through opportunities to attend the annual Golf Industry Show. Since it began, 113 superintendents have experienced the Melrose Leadership Academy. In February, a second $1-million gift was announced to create the Melrose Equipment Management Endowment. The endowment will have four focus areas: continuing education, a certificate program, growing membership in GCSAA and the Melrose Equipment Management Experience, which will bring GCSAA-member equipment managers to the GIS for leadership and education sessions. These are the two largest individual gifts in the GCSAA’s history.

“GCSAA is truly blessed to have Ken Melrose as a good friend.” GCSAA Chief Executive Officer Rhett Evans said. “His generous gifts have made a difference in the professional lives of superintendents and equipment managers and have helped us fulfill our mission of serving our members and advancing the profession. Now, he is helping us achieve the third part of our mission, which is growing the game of golf. Countless school children around the county will be the beneficiaries of Ken’s latest philanthropic act.”

For more information about GCSAA’s First Green, visit