Early this summer, I had layman’s views of what Grounds Management does in a university. With the help of my mentor, Carly Rizor (UIC’s Grounds Superintendent, and only woman around, with her “let’s do this” attitude, that makes people love her and work hard) I learned much. Grounds is the gritty, blue-collar work that no one seems to notice until a snowfall hits it hard, or when the turf at the soccer field needs repair, when 2,000 kids trample it on a summer’s day. Carly was very attentive, showing me much of the day-to-day work, and management involved, and how well you need to work with others. As she said so many times over the summer, “the university is like a pair of cargo pants . . . many pockets, different funding coming in. We need to work with all departments.”.
Over the summer, I sought to relate my projects at UIC Grounds with sustainability. When I think of sustainability, I think of a process that is self-sufficient, and long-lasting, without extra input. Throughout June, I walked the entire 240-acre campus, repeatedly looking for any little patch of green. The purpose?-classification . . so Grounds could calculate how much manpower was required to maintain the premises, and easily allocate staff. July featured a number of small projects, including talking with third parties to improve the efficiency, and value of the campus. One project was with Bartlett, which is doing a very impressive tree assessment. I helped document their project, and got first hand knowledge of how they’re dealing with pest control on campus ash trees. A second project included the expansion of the BigBelly sun powered trash compactors, which is a great idea. It saves labor, and de-clutters the space the hundreds of concrete trash cans currently occupy. Furthermore, each trash compactor comes with a recycling bin! Another interesting project was site searching for expansion of the Monarch and Heritage Gardens.
Grounds helps UIC not just by making it aesthetically pleasing, but ensuring resources are properly allocated to operate efficiently. That’s sustainability to its core.
By: Danielle Silva