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John Deere Foundation Extends Support For The First Tee

The John Deere Foundation is extending its support for a youth golf program that teaches leadership skills.

Over the next five years, the foundation will donate nearly $625,000 to The First Tee. The national program teaches core values such as responsibility and integrity, and the contribution will help attract girls to golf.

Jen Weiler, First Tee senior vice president, says women make up just 20 percent of all golfers in the U.S. Currently only 38 percent of kids in the First Tee program are girls. And the organization wants to increase that to 45 percent.

Weiler says golf improves girls' leadership skills.

"Introducing themselves with confidence, shaking someone's hand and looking them in the eye and taking off their hat at the end of a round to congratulate someone at the end of a round — those are skills you learn on the golf course," she says.

The First Tee will begin a girls golf leadership academy in 2017.

Deere Foundation president Mara Downing says the money will also fund scholarships. They'll include opportunities to play in the 2017 John Deere Classic Pro-Am.

"That dedication and commitment to programs and organizations like the First Tee and encouraging more people to get engaged in the game of golf is really important to the continued success and continued growth of the golf industry," Downing says.

The foundation's continuing support will also go to First Tee chapters in the Quad Cities, Des Moines and Cary, North Carolina. About 800 kids participate in the First Tee Quad Cities. 

The First Tee began its partnership with the John Deere Foundation in 2012.

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