A Green Honor for the Grounds Crew

The University of Redlands is a beautiful campus filled with greenery and flowers. It’s even home to over 3000 trees of varying species, according to the university website. With all the hard work put into taking care of the campus, it’s no surprise the University of Redlands won an award for their grounds maintenance.

On Oct. 19, 2023, the University of Redlands was presented with the Green Star Honor Award by The Professional Grounds Management Society (PGMS) at their Annual Awards Celebration. Winning this award is significant for the grounds team because it brings them not only recognition in the community but recognition around the country too.

The Green Star Honor Award is arguably among the most prestigious of awards one can win for the management of their grounds.

“This is about the number one best award in the country so it’s really, really big,” Eugene Jackson, lead grounds worker and master gardener at the University of Redlands, shared. In his nineteen years working at the University of Redlands, the grounds team has won The Green Star Award three times, in 2011, 2021, and now in 2023.

The university’s Green Star Honor Award.

“We really care about what we do out here as far as what we put out as a product—not just for this award but all the students that come out and walk around to see the campus that we have maintained,” Jackson said.

There are five categories in which the university was judged: landscape, safety, challenges, budget, and sustainable practices. To be considered for the award, the university had to submit thirty photos following specific guidelines, showcasing each of these categories. In order to win, they had to score at least 70 out of 100 possible points, according to the PGMS website.

“They go through the process, and they look at the landscaping, the flowerbeds and how the university looks,” Jackson said.

According to John Welter, an irrigation technician at the University of Redlands, two projects the grounds team completed were showcased for the award.

“It was the Admin Drive going up to Duke on the right-hand side. We redid the parkway where it used to be just nothing but dirt and dead grass. We [also] redesigned [the flagpole] and installed brand new irrigation, grass, and plants,” Welter said.

Both Jackson and Welter agreed a favorite part of their job is seeing what they can achieve as a team, despite challenges such as scheduling conflicts, deadlines, or the most significant one: an understaffed grounds team.

“We have about ten or eleven [workers]. Normally we have fifteen [workers] and so we’re short. We’ve been working short for the last couple of years,” Jackson said. “But we’ve been achieving a great deal.”

Not even having a smaller team could stop them from winning the award. In fact, Jackson said it only made the award more special to them, as it demonstrated the power of teamwork.

“Everybody is working together to achieve these projects,” Jackson said. “The project on the flagpole, John and the irrigators put the irrigation in themselves. The award shows that this is what we do; we are professional men and women here,”

He added that this award is more special to him than any others he has won. “It’s not easy to keep your team strong and get the best out of your team, but we have. We’ve achieved that. I hope in the future we can continue to win. We should [win again] because we have great leadership and great workers.”

But what really makes this campus shine?

Jackson and Welter both agreed it’s the showcase area, from the front of the Admin Building to the front of the Chapel.

“This is a beautiful campus,” Jackson said, “I love the roses because I’m a master gardener and I love the green grass. It’s just cheerful.”

The University of Redlands, from the huge landscaping showcase down to its smallest flower beds, is maintained only through the hard work and dedication of the grounds crew.

Photos by Bec Gage and Madelyn Olsen.

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Madelyn Olsen is a first-year student majoring in Saxophone Performance. She loves writing, making music, and taking care of her chickens in her free time.

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