Wayne Mills wins GCSAA President’s Award for Environmental Stewardship

By |  December 11, 2023 0 Comments

The Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA) named Wayne Mills, 39-year GCSAA member and superintendent at La Cumbre Country Club in Santa Barbara, Calif., recipient of the 2024 President’s Award for Environmental Stewardship.

Photo:Wayne Mills (Photo: GCSAA)

Wayne Mills (Photo: GCSAA)

Established in 1991, the President’s Award for Environmental Stewardship recognizes an environmental contribution to the game of golf; a contribution that further exemplifies the golf course superintendent’s image as a steward of the land.

“From water conservation to wildlife habitat enhancement, Wayne Mills’ dedication to being an environmental steward has undoubtedly contributed to the sustainability of the game of golf,” GCSAA President Kevin P. Breen, CGCS, said. “The numerous ways in which he advocates for the protection of the environment, both at La Cumbre and other local golf courses, makes a measurable difference and embodies all that the President’s Award represents. We commend his efforts and congratulate him on this honor.”

A member of the GCSA of Southern California, Mills’ efforts helped establish La Cumbre’s golf course as an Audubon International Certified Cooperative Sanctuary, receiving the Audubon Certification for Water Conservation. He allows the local Audubon Society to conduct bird banding at La Cumbre and he has worked with the California Conservation Corps on the removal of invasive plants from the Arroyo Burro Creek in a collaborative restoration effort.

Mills served as a founding member of the Goleta Valley Golf and Water Taskforce, which was instrumental in advocating for local golf courses and reasonable water use restrictions during recent times of extreme drought. He continually improves water conservation practices at La Cumbre and puts in extra effort to work with local officials on water restrictions by participating in Goleta Water District’s turf rebate program.

Additional areas of Mills’ focus on environmental stewardship at La Cumbre include the establishment of an Integrated Pest Management plan, recently updating the pump station, evaluating the installation of solar panels at the maintenance facility and creating a Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan specific for the maintenance facility operations. La Cumbre was also recently certified by Audubon International for Wildlife Management under his leadership.

“It seems overwhelming at first like you’re taking on this new aspect of the property and the challenges of managing that come with it, but as you go, there’s a satisfaction that’s different,” Wayne Mills said. “On our property, we maintain good grounds for golf, but we also plant for wildlife, and they show up.”

Mills’ hard work has also earned him numerous Environmental Leaders in Golf Awards recognition from GCSAA, including Natural Resources Conservation Award winner in 2022, Communications and Outreach Award runner-up in 2023, Natural Resources Conservation Award runner-up in 2021, Healthy Land Stewardship Award runner-up in 2020, 2019 and 2018, and ELGA Chapter Award winner in 2017.

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