Addison Bidoli attends 2023 First Tee Innovators Forum

Addison, a 9th Grader at Jack Britt HS in Fayetteville, was selected as one of 28 teens nationwide to attend the First Tee Innovators Forum in Jacksonville, Florida this November.

This was Addison’s first National Participant Opportunity selection.

The forum equips and empowers First Tee teens to develop a meaningful service project in their communities focused on education, health, human rights, or environmental sustainability. Addison learned from industry leaders through interactive workshops and small group breakout sessions with fellow teens who share a similar desire for learning and generating changes in their communities. Upon return home, she will utilize a timeline, strategic goals and a budget to develop and execute a community service project.

Day 1 Recap

On Thursday, I said goodbye to my parents at the airport and boarded my plane to Jacksonville, Florida. My nervousness of flying alone for the first time was overshadowed by my excitement for the weekend. 

When I arrived in Florida, there was a chaperone waiting to take me and a couple other participants to the hotel. I was able to meet and mingle with the other teens while we waited for everyone to arrive. I was a little hesitant at first, but everyone was so nice and welcoming. 

Shortly after, we made our way over to the PGA Tour Headquarters where Billy Horschel spoke about his experience creating a non-profit organization. A surprise guest stopped by halfway through. Her name was Susan King and she was the CEO of Feeding Northeast Florida. She, too, spoke about her experiences as an industry leader. Both speakers allowed us to ask questions and gave many great pieces of information and advice. 

Our final activity for the evening was a comedy show. We got to see three comedians perform. Instead of just telling jokes, they were very interactive with the crowd and included us often. There were many laughs and it was a great way to end the long day. 

We headed back to the hotel for an Italian dinner and talked about the schedule for the rest of the weekend. The hotel had a patio area with a fire pit, so after dinner, we all headed out there to hang out and talk. It was probably my favorite part of the day. I was able to get to know the other teens better and hear their experiences with First Tee. I was surprised how similar some of our experiences were even though we all came from different chapters around the country. 

Although we were all having a great time, everyone was pretty tired and decided to head to bed early to prepare for the long day tomorrow. I couldn’t wait to see what was in store for the next day. 

Day 2 Recap

The day is Friday, and let me tell you, it turned out to be one of the most unexpectedly amazing days. Starting bright and early and heading to the beach to catch the sunrise, I knew the day was going to be something special.

After seeing the sunrise, we headed to Panera for breakfast. There’s just something about bagels and coffee that sets the tone for a great day. After breakfast, we returned to the PGA Tour HQ, where we were treated to a talk by a First Tee alumni, Hannah Rens. She shared her journey from volunteering to her current projects in aerospace engineering (WOW)! Hearing about her accomplishments and the obstacles she faced was beyond inspiring. 

But the inspiration didn’t stop there. 

Dr. Ted France joined us, offering us great advice and insights. He talked about our ongoing projects and emphasized the power of teamwork. It was amazing to hear from someone so accomplished and passionate.

After a quick break, we hopped on a bus to St. Augustine. The highlight of the afternoon was a catamaran ride, complete with unlimited snacks and drinks.The view was breathtaking, and Kyanna Tamborini shared her captivating journey in marine biology. 

When we got back at the TPC Sawgrass media center shortly after, the day took a creative turn. We split into groups and crafted steps to being a leader, turning them into our own poems. It was a unique approach, and I loved how it allowed us to express our thoughts in a creative way. Being able to mingle amongst ourselves and meet new people, we also made a ton of new friends along the way. We even talked about possibly visiting one another in different states in the future! One of the best parts about this experience was getting to make new friends from all different age ranges throughout the different high schools involved.

As the sun began to set, we started planning and brainstorming for our projects. It felt like we were on the brink of something incredible, we all were excited about our ideas.

The day concluded with dinner at the TPC Sawgrass clubhouse. Dining in that fancy restaurant was the perfect ending to a great day. 

Today was more than just a Friday; it was a chapter in my First Tee journey that I’ll carry with me forever in the years to come! 

Day 3 Recap

My Saturday morning kicked off with a visit from two amazing professionals, Crystal Harris and Morgan Wiesner, from the CapTech company. Their energy was fantastic, and they shared insights on problem-solving and unleashing creativity. As a little bonus, they handed out small gifts that added an extra dose of excitement to our day. Then we had an activity focused on brainstorming ideas to enhance teen retention within the First Tee. 

Following the brainstorming, was some delicious Mexican food. Nothing like a good meal to fuel the mind!

In the afternoon, Dr. Ted returned, and together, we brainstormed our very own ‘Go-To Team.’ It was fun to witness the mix of talents and ideas coming together. We then translated our brainstormed ideas into a poster, outlining our plan and a timeline for execution. After the intense planning session, we were treated to a stroll around the breathtaking clubhouse. The view was nothing short of amazing.

The evening kicked off with a hearty BBQ dinner, where we made our way to the beach, where a bonfire and s’mores awaited. After the fire, we were back at the hotel, facing a pivotal decision. The chaperones threw out the idea of an all-nighter, and, well, who were we to turn down an opportunity for more memories? We hung out in the common room, playing games, talking, and laughing. I can confidently say it was worth every yawn for the fun times we all shared this week.

As I finally hit the pillow, I couldn’t help but feel grateful for the experiences of the day. The First Tee Innovators Forum had become more than just an event; it was a memory that will stay with me forever. The experience and knowledge I gained has made me excited to start my service project immediately! My hopes are to provide feminine products to teens who can’t afford or have no access to obtain them through a feminine product drive. First Tee has given me more than I ever expected and I am honored to serve my community in return. Thank you First Tee for the incredible opportunity, lifelong friendships and the invaluable knowledge. I am anxiously awaiting to apply for the opportunities in 2024!