An alliance between University of Wisconsin-Stout’s hospitality programs and a nonprofit organization could open the door to a college education for historically underserved and underrepresented youth.
At the Turn has begun collaborating with UW-Stout’s School of Hospitality Leadership to help guide at-risk youth toward higher education opportunities.
At the Turn is a Twin Cities-based, golf-focused nonprofit, helping teens and young adults play golf, get jobs in golf hospitality and develop business networking and financial skills.
UW-Stout’s hospitality programs serve the golf industry, including golf enterprise management, which prepares students to become managers at golf facilities and elsewhere in the industry; hotel, restaurant and tourism management; and real estate property management.
At the Turn Chair Mark Haugejorde saw the synergy between his organization and the university. “UW-Stout is the pre-eminent institution in the Midwest for hospitality. This is so natural. We want to expose these youth to all the opportunities out there. We get to watch lives change in front of us,” Haugejorde said.
Haugejorde is expanding At the Turn’s mission beyond helping youth get a part-time job to helping them consider a career in hospitality. “Very few people know that golf is hospitality,” he said. “Many golf associations have introductory programs. Ours is based on a motivated student being interested in pursuing the next level of engagement with the game and the business of golf.”
He had heard good things about UW-Stout’s hospitality programs. Its School of Hospitality Leadership was ranked No. 11 in the world in 2019 by CEOWorld magazine. And then a chance discussion last fall with John Sobota, the GEM program director, put the wheels in motion.
The alliance with UW-Stout is envisioned as an education and employment pipeline. At the Turn works with several private and public golf clubs in the Twin Cities metro area. Some of those clubs already recruit at UW-Stout.
“We’re going to lead At the Turn students to UW-Stout, and ideally those same students will come back and be interns or employees at these clubs and lead the next level of students on that same path,” Haugejorde said.
Many hospitality students at UW-Stout work at golf clubs during a program-required internship or co-op, coordinated through the university’s Career Services.
The alliance could include special campus admissions tours for youth interested in a four-year degree, higher education scholarships from At the Turn and coordination of efforts with UW-Stout staff and administration.
“A career in GEM or hospitality, that in itself is an exciting opportunity for youth,” Sobota said. “We’re not that far away from the Twin Cities. It will take a lot of people to do this work, but it’s worthwhile work.”
Sobota cited UW-Stout’s commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion. “I’m amazed at how much correlation there is with that and with what Mark’s foundation does. This is a wonderful opportunity,” he said.
Haugejorde can’t wait to get started. “I love John’s energy and the success of Stout’s programs. UW-Stout has it going on,” Haugejorde said.
At the Turn expanding; new Executive Director Aubrie Gaugert
Haugejorde hopes to expand At the Turn’s reach beyond youth in the Twin Cities, including into Wisconsin, making the UW-Stout alliance a perfect fit.
At the Turn’s budget for 2021 has more than doubled from the previous year with new sponsors. It expects to work with more than 350 youth, also more than double from 2020.
Effective March 1, Aubrie Gaugert, of Edina, Minn., will become executive director of At the Turn.
“Aubrie played golf for the U of Minnesota, where she met her husband, Alex, a member of the men’s team. Alex caddies on the PGA Tour for his former teammate Erik van Rooyen. Aubrie was very successful as Tonto Verde’s membership director, and with their young daughter, Annika, they decided to move home. We couldn’t have imagined finding someone so perfectly suited to lead our growth into the future,” Haugejorde said.
Haugejorde, a Minnesota native, has 30-plus years of experience in the golf industry. A former University of Houston golfer, he helped develop global marketing partnerships for legendary golfer Jack Nicklaus and was general manager of the Jack Nicklaus International Golf Club.
At the Turn was founded by Tim Herron, a professional golfer from the Twin Cities, and Phil Ebner. The original name, Tim Herron Academy, was changed three years ago.
The name At the Turn is a golf term for when players finish their first nine holes and transition to the back nine.
“The brand name is synonymous with what we do — youth are often ‘at the turn’ in their lives and we help them,” Haugejorde said.