ESCANABA - This would have been the point of the Symetra Tour that athletes got their hands dirty - except they were wearing gloves.
Ten golfers on the tour paid a visit to Lake State Industries Tuesday as part of the Outside the Ropes initiative to learn about the communities they play in.
They were told very little about what they would be doing, and were surprised, but took it in stride when put on the assembly line at the recycling center.
"Of course, I was surprised, but it was easy with these girls here," said Taylor Collins of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., after an hour of picking through newspaper and plastic on the line. "We had no idea we'd be doing this. I thought maybe we'd be working with the workers here."
It was Collins' birthday and though she spent a chunk of it digging through recyclables, she seemed to enjoy it.
"When I heard we'd be sorting through trash, I thought this is an interesting way to spend my birthday," she laughed.
Top photo: Symetra Tour golfers sort through newspaper and plastics on the line at Lake State Industries’ recycling plant Tuesday afternoon as part of the Outside the Ropes initiative to learn about the community. (Daily Press photo by Keith Shelton)
This is Collins' first trip to the Upper Peninsula and her early impressions were favorable.
"It's certainly different than South Florida," she remarked. "It's so peaceful and beautiful. Everything is so green."
The ladies were told what plastics to take by the number on the bottom of plastics, which ranges from 1-7 depending on the chemical used to make it. They were each assigned roles on the line. Afterward, they were shown a variety of products made from recycled plastics and newspapers, such as ceiling tiles made at a plant in Lanse.
The experience of a day at the recycling plant was somewhat familiar for Aimee Neff, a recent Michigan State University graduate.
"This is pretty much a similar program as back home," she said. "It's very eco-friendly."
This is Neff's second visit for the Symetra Tour at Sweetgrass. She has already spent some time talking to a fellow Spartan in Carley Saint-Onge, who will play this event for the second time. Neff graduated in 2011.
"The golf program at Michigan State is going strong," she said.
Lake State Industries Executive Director Cheryl Ohman gave the golfers a tour of the facility before bringing them to the recycling plant. She explained the versatility of the company and showed the ladies samples of their work, including crates that were being built for the Bark River offroad races in August.
"I think this was a great opportunity to showcase the golfers and the community and have them get an impression of the recycling center," Ohman said.
Some players will make a stop at the Salvation Army in Escanaba this afternoon.