FORT MYERS, Fla — The Foundation for Lee County Public Schools hosted its annual STEM@Work kickoff event at Alico Family Golf (AFG) on September 26 and 27. The two-day event invited over 400 students from Lee County high schools to participate in activities focused on Science, Technology, Engineering, Math, Career Planning, and Business Marketing.

“They get a wealth of hands-on experience from professionals in the golf business, which is probably the most dominant industries in Florida, by the numbers,” Kraig Feighery, founder of Alico Family Golf, said. “They also get an understanding of professionals and their craft,” he added. “And what real applications go into what we do here at AFG, whether it’s running a business, building golf clubs, instructing golfers or agronomy and taking care of the grass.”

Students learn about agronomy and how STEM can be applied to taking care of the grass on a golf course.

The STEM@Work program is a collaborative partnership between The Foundation for Lee County Public Schools and the Career & Technical Education Department of the Lee County School District. It aims to introduce high school students to STEM-based learning and career opportunities by offering hands-on interactions and tours at local businesses in the STEM industry throughout the school year.

This event fits perfectly in the message of Alico Family Golf to grow the game of golf.

Students practice swinging a golf club at the driving range

“It’s part of our legacy to give back to the community,” Feighery said. “It gives us the opportunity to introduce golf to more than 400 kids, out of which I think over 90% of them have never swung a golf club or played a game of golf before.”

Eleventh grader at Estero High School Collin Duke said it was really exciting to see the side of golf that you don’t usually see if you just watch it on TV. “You’ll just see the professionals who make it look so easy. But today, we’ve got to learn how much more goes into aligning the club to your body and hitting the ball right,” he said. “It was really cool to see behind the scenes.”

James Bell, teacher at Dunbar High School, said the best aspect of this program is that students get to experience real life applications of what they’re learning. “Lot of times they don’t know why they’re learning what they’re learning, so to give them an opportunity to see that in action does help,” he said.

It was Dunbar High School student Adilay Calana’s first time swinging a golf club yet turned out to be the tenth grader’s favorite part of the day. “Lot of the professionals helped me learn how to do it,” she said. “And, I had no idea STEM could apply to golf at all, but at the end, it made perfect sense.”