The Monmouth County Vocational School District announced the launch of a greenskeeper and turf management apprenticeship, the first of its kind in New Jersey and one that is unique in the United States.
The program is targeted to students in the Landscaping and Turf Management program at the Monmouth Career Center in Freehold, one of the schools operated by the county vocational school district.
Approved by the U.S. Department of Labor, the new apprenticeship program will provide paid, on the job training at Monmouth County Parks Commission golf courses during the summer. The program will enable students to earn an apprenticeship certification, indicating they are ready for employment as a greenskeeper or maintaining artificial turf fields.
“This program represents the best in collaboration and innovation — an opportunity to provide a pathway that is not only a postsecondary credential but also has on and off-ramps,” said Dr. Linda Eno, an assistant commissioner of the state Department of Education. “This is an opportunity to get employed and earn while you continue to learn.”
Eno was among numerous officials who spoke at a ceremony announcing the program Tuesday on a par three golf hole that was created on the campus of Monmouth County Career Center to provide students the opportunity to manage the turf and operate the specialized equipment needed to maintain it.
“This program shows that there is success when everyone comes together to work together and invest in our children’s future,” said state Labor Commissioner Robert Asaro Angelo. “Having employers at the table and having all of government here — the county, the parks department, the state, the school district — shows why apprenticeship is going to be successful.”
The program is the only one of its kind in New Jersey and believed to be one of the only in the United States, said Nathan Kraemer, the principal of the Monmouth Career Center.
“The creation of the greenskeeper and turf management apprenticeship at the MCVSD Career Center will become the blueprint to develop and implement future apprenticeships for the multitude of Career and Technical Education programs our district offers,” Kraemer said. “The goal is to provide as many students as possible with career pathways and opportunities.”
Nancy Trivette, the president-elect of the Association for Career and Technical Education, said the students who graduate from the school will have a valuable credential that will lead to employment.
“The students who are here today are lucky because you are in the right place to learn great things from great instructors, and also gain the soft skills and leadership and personal development that you are gaining from FFA,” Trivette said. “You will leave here with a credential that many of your friends and colleagues don’t have because of what you have learned at the Monmouth County Career Center and Monmouth County Technical Schools.”
Golf is a $1.4 billion industry in New Jersey, with approximately 300 golf courses employing more than 20,000 individuals in golf course operations, including turf management and greenskeeping, according to a 2010 report commissioned by the NJ Golf Alliance.