Volunteers plant trees for PGA Championship
By Bob Denney, The PGA of America
PENFIELD, N.Y. – John Gagel of Lexington, Ky., and Tony LaFountain of Penfield, N.Y., had never met before this week, but they share a bond for what happens when corporate America strikes the right chord with a small town.
Gagel, the Sustainability Manager for Lexmark International Inc., and LaFountain, the Penfield Town Supervisor, gathered at Rothfuss Park, grabbed a shovel and dug a little deeper on a cool, windy Sunday to help give back more than a token offering for generations to come.
Volunteers from the community of Penfield, The PGA of America, Lexmark and Nature Conservancy planted 33 trees – 18 American Elm and 15 White Swamp Oak – on the 70-acre property that was once farmland. The planting did more than offset the impact of printing and paper products generated over the course of the 95th PGA Championship, Aug. 5-11, at nearby Oak Hill Country Club.
The project, the third collaborative effort between The PGA of America and Lexmark in conjunction with a PGA-sanctioned spectator championship, also restores shade to recreational participants at the park, increases native habitat, and improves storm water management by helping the soil absorb moisture during heavy rains.
“The Town of Penfield is grateful for this partnership,” said LaFountain, who was instrumental in the late 1990s in helping the town of 36,000 purchase the acquisition rights to the land from the Rothfuss family, which had farmed the property near a 1,000-acre swamp for decades. “There are similar efforts around the country where a town or city council wants to go it alone. We are proud of teaming years ago to preserve this land, building a great park for everyone and today celebrating what can be done by building relationships with organizations like The PGA of America, Lexmark and The Nature Conservancy.”
The event follows the PGA of America’s commitment to benefit the host communities that support its Championships. The PGA and Lexmark partnered for a similar event prior to the 2012 Ryder Cup and last May near St. Louis, prior to the 75th Senior PGA Championship presented by KitchenAid.
PGA Secretary Paul Levy of Indian Wells, Calif., said “as a PGA member, days like today are so special for me. The oaks and elms that we plant offset the paper use this week during the PGA Championship. The bigger message is that these trees are going to be beneficial for the well-being of this community, well beyond this major golf championship.
“The fact is that we’re doing some real good here, and I know that for The PGA of America, it means a lot to leave a lasting legacy wherever we go.”
Lexmark International, headquartered in Lexington, Ky., is the Official Printing Technology Provider of The PGA of America, is a founding member of The Nature Conservancy’s Corporate Sustainability Council.
“The fact that The PGA of America is supporting these events is indeed a special legacy that can be repeated around the country,” said Gagel. “This partnership takes our efforts to a new level.”
Jan Miller, a senior philanthropy officer for The Nature Conservancy said the tree planting “is what can take place through the power of collaboration. We hope that it will continue to make all our mutual projects as successful.”