With the goal of teaching life skills and character values through the sport of golf, "The First Tee of San Juan County" will be expanding its in-school program into 10 area schools in the next five years with the help of a $32,000 grant.
The grant from the Merrion Oil and Gas Foundation will provide $6,400 a year for the next five years to expand the program.
The school assembly Wednesday afternoon at Bluffview included members of the foundation and the Farmington Chamber of Commerce, and a gym full of the students who thanked them for the donation to help purchase the golf equipment.
The program prides itself on teaching nine core values, and for the assembly, fifth grade students researched and constructed posters expressing those values, physical education teacher Kathy Lund said.
"They know what the nine core values mean now and they can put it into practice," Lund said. "This (program) gives the kids the opportunity to play golf that (they might) not otherwise get to play."
By learning about the values of the sport and learning basic golf motor skills, Yost said the program also helps educate students about respect along with communication and decision making skills.
"We're teaching them the skills for them to succeed," Yost said. "By giving the kids early goals to succeed at, the feeling is going to increase self-esteem and their motivation will improve and it'll help them graduate (high school) and follow their dreams."
Yost said he feels some people have a misconception about the program, saying it's more than just teaching students about golf.
"That's the furthest thing we are trying to accomplish," Yost said. "Golf is a multi-faceted lifetime activity. It'll help kids get outside from behind the TV and video games.
Frist Tee has established programs at area golf courses in Farmington, Aztec and Kirtland for students to continue learning about the sport after school and during the summer.
The program is currently at Animas and McKinley Elementary in Farmington; Ruth N. Bond Elementary in Kirtland; and Central Primary and Blanco Elementary in Bloomfield.
Yost said First Tee is hoping to bring the next two chapters of the program to Mesa Elementary in Shiprock and Newcomb Elementary.
Joshua Kellogg may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org; 564-4627. Follow him on Twitter @jkelloggdt