2009 Project of the Year: Teaching Golf to Underprivileged Youth

Winner: Citizens Conservation Corps of West Virginia

The Citizens Conservation Corps of West Virginia's popular program, The First Tee of Beckley (TFTB), engages and exposes underprivileged youth to the disciplined game of golf. Using golf as the vehicle, youth are exposed to character education in programming that integrates the fundamentals of golf and personal skills. TFTB's core values of honesty, integrity, sportsmanship, respect, confidence, responsibility, perserverance, courtesy, and judgment serve as the building blocks of the program.

Since being developed in 1997, The First Tee has achieved its mission of "impacting the lives of young people by providing learning facilities and educational programs that promote character development and life-enhancing values through the game of golf." TFTB, the first and only chapeter in West Virginia, focuses on the developmnet of area youth, particularly those at-risk, by offering all programming free of charge.

While enrolled in TFTB's programming, youth are taught the importance of giving back to the community through service and volunteer projects, are offered positive adult role models that provide the foundation and basis for participants to become mentors for younger siblings and/or peers, and postive alternatives to drug use, crime, and a sedentary lifestyle.

In 2008, TFTB engaged 225 youth at its facility and another 2,100 in area schools. The First Tee of Beckley has proven so successful that the Corps is in the process of expanding its programming throughout West Virginia.