Golf. It's a game most people associate with confidence and patience. A game of practice and mental technique. But it's also a game that reinforces values like integrity, respect and perseverance.
First Tee is an international youth development program that introduces the game of golf to youth participants from all walks of life and uses the game as a platform to teach and develop life skills. Every year, brilliant young adults participate in the program to learn about golf while infusing First Tee's Nine Core Values into their everyday lives. Many—if not all—of the students also have a passion for making their communities better.
Since 2017, John Deere has provided three scholarships each year to honor First Tee students' community efforts. Applicants apply and showcase how they are helping others. The winners then receive a $5,000 college scholarship and a VIP experience at the John Deere Classic. This year, six students will be recognized since last year's event was cancelled due to the pandemic.
"As a golf-course equipment manufacturer and longtime sponsor of the John Deere Classic, we at John Deere have a great appreciation for the game of golf," said John Watson, manager of John Deere's relationship with First Tee. "Our investment in First Tee ensures the younger generation is introduced to the game and its inherent values. And our support of the Power for Good program promotes the value of giving back."
Luke has been involved with First Tee for over 14 years and is a Power for Good wherever he goes. Luke co-founded the "Buddy Tee" program with his brother, which teaches First Tee Life Skills & Core Values to kids with special needs through the game of golf. Luke believes golf is more than just a game, though. He says,"Golf is something that has taught me skills and techniques that can be applied anywhere off the course."
Vivian started playing golf at the age of six and is inspired by acts of kindness. Her most memorable Power for Good experience has been assisting over 400 foster children during a Friends of Foster Children Forever back to school fair. She organized a group of volunteers and pre-packed backpacks. Vivian also started a slippers, socks and shoe collection drive and raised over $800 worth of items. Vivian made her first hole-one-one during a First Tee fundraiser.
Kayla started with First Tee in 2010 and is a Power for Good entrepreneur. Kayla participated in the Girls Who Code Summer Immersion program at Amazon Seattle, which encouraged her to start a Girls Who Code club at her own school. She then created a Women Empowerment Vision website to showcase females in different careers. Kayla believes the most important skill she's learned from First Tee is perseverance. "Having perseverance helps me whether I'm in a tough lie on the golf course or if I'm working on a hard assignment. Telling myself to persevere and keeping my spirits high guided me through many obstacles."
Kate has been involved with First Tee for several years and has a plethora of Power for Good experiences. Kate volunteers regularly at her local Food Bank, Ronald McDonald House and many more. Her most memorable experience was helping women receive their GED and witnessing their dedication to better their lives. Kate's favorite thing about golf is the challenge it presents. "Golf forces me to face the struggle head on and has taught me how to overcome adversity."
Chase has been involved with First Tee for six years and has a passion for helping youth succeed. As a volunteer coach, Chase teaches golf to elementary students over the summer. He also has been a peer counselor for over four years to help students through difficult times. During Thanksgiving, Chase delivers meals to their local Ronald McDonald House. He's favorite thing about golf is how inclusive the game is. "I just think that it is amazing that players with opposite golf games can compete against one another and both have a fair shot at getting in on the money. The game does not discriminate against any player no matter what skill level."
Abi has been a participant at two First Tee chapters and is a Power for Good mentor. Abi is currently mentoring younger students and assisting with coaching golf classes. In addition, she is the President of SkillsUSA club, which helps students explore and improve their media and graphic design skills. She also volunteers regularly at her local Food Bank, Crutches for Africa, Salvation Army and more. Abi appreciates golf for the opportunity it provides to network. "My favorite thing about golf is that it is a game that tests character and how it helps connect so many relationships."