GCSAA launches workforce opportunities initiative

New position created to introduce turfgrass management career pathways to new audiences and address golf industry labor shortages.


Leeann Cooper at GCSAA Conference and trade show

To address the ongoing labor challenges in the golf course industry, the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA) has established a workforce opportunities initiative to consolidate administration of its key workforce development programs.

“Labor is the number one challenge faced by our GCSAA members and the industry overall,” GCSAA CEO Rhett Evans said. “This initiative is another investment by GCSAA to further our efforts to increase our member’s skills and attract new people into the turfgrass management profession.”

As part of the initiative, longtime GCSAA team member Leann Cooper has been named senior manager, First Green and workforce development. Cooper will develop the strategy and lead execution of the initiatives focused on enabling current members to continue to grow their careers to increase the skills available to support labor needs and increase interest in choosing turfgrass management careers. At the center of these efforts is the GCSAA’s First Green program. First Green provides STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) education for school-aged students through hands-on learning field trips led by GCSAA-member superintendents. Cooper, who joined the GCSAA team in 2000, has played a key role in First Green operations since GCSAA took over the program in 2018.

Since its inception, First Green has hosted thousands of students across North America and has recently expanded to the UK and Australia. In her new role, Cooper will continue to lead the GCSAA First Green program and add the leadership of current and new programs focused on workforce development.  She will also assist current GCSAA members in advancing their own careers by overseeing enhancements to career resources including GCSAA website career content, employer tool kits, résumé assistance and career pathway guidance.

To learn more about GCSAA, visit gcsaa.org.