Another year has come and almost gone, and like many of you I am taking stock of the past 12 months. Groundskeeping closely follows the clock and calendar, and our jobs are greatly influenced by both of these factors. December (or more broadly, winter) is a viewed by many who care for grounds or the landscape as the end of one period and the start of another. I realize that this is the end of the year for our whole society, but not in the same way as for us in the green industry. The solstice is behind us in North America (apologies to any international friends!), and days will begin lengthening. Our coldest average temps are still to come, but Spring is on its way. I want to look forward, but I also want to close out 2017. What was it all about for Drury Grounds?
2017 was a very good year for Drury Grounds.
The Big Story
The biggest change for Drury Grounds was the adoption of the Drury University Master Plan. When DU President Dr. Cloyd took over in 2016, he stated that a master plan was a top priority. After an appropriate search, DU hired Cooper-Robertson, a consulting group out of New York to oversee the effort. Many charrettes and interviews in summer, including stakeholders and concerned members of the DU community, helped chart the process. In November, the finished product was revealed on campus. While the main plan was rightly built around academic delivery, and the construction this would entail, the campus landscape did get a lot of attention. A framework for the grounds was established. Grounds likely will play a significant role in implementation and we are looking forward to completing our part.
What We Accomplished
Drury Grounds stayed busy in 2017, continuing to positively impact the campus in many ways. Our biggest visible impact on campus was the President's Plaza. This commemorative garden was conceived, designed and installed by the Drury Community and features plaques with all of Drurys presidents.
Another significant event was the awarding of our 3rd annual Tree Campus USA certification from the National Arbor Day Foundation. This acknowledges that DU values its urban forest and is taking appropriate steps to maintain it. We are one of eight Tree Campuses in Missouri and DU is proud of this designation.
Our biggest all-around impact of 2017 was our steady work. This is usually the case for any good grounds operation. Skilled grounds crews are expert at the steady, methodical work that builds over time to make a beautiful campus (or golf course). Drury Grounds installed a number of flower beds in specific areas, and performed two rounds of seasonal color change-outs (spring, fall). We planted at least 32 trees, innumerable shrubs and perennials, and as usual, 1000 spring flowering daffodil bulbs. A side note about daffodils: we have planted 6000 since 2012, and still have a lot of room to grow. Daffs are easy, and always a winner with our customers.
Impacting Our Crew
Two events took place for Drury Grounds in 2017 that will (hopefully) have lasting impact on our success. First, we became fully staffed for the first time in a long time. Our crew is back up to six groundsmen. One new hire in particular is very important. Leroy S. is a retired groundsman from a nearby university, and is a well-rounded student of the turf game. Being able to hire someone with his experience and trade education was a real win. The other two new groundskeepers are inexperienced but eager (as of now). Grounds maintenance is a very demanding profession. Add in the high expectations of Drury University and our position is not a fit for just anyone.
A bigger impact resulted from a course I took on campus in pursuit of my Masters Degree (Leadership & Organizational Change). This class was Comm 605 Organizational Change. It focused on understanding your organizations culture and the role it plays in team success. I learned how to uncover the artifacts, stated beliefs, and unspoken assumptions that guide my team. But the most important thing I learned was that my own beliefs and biases can cloud my ability to see the true culture of my team.
I am learning to try to remove my desired beliefs/hopes from my management, letting my team guide us more than previously. We are unifying behind a shared vision, creating more accountability and participation. I urge anyone to dig deeper into learning about organizational culture. I truly believe this will benefit us greatly going forward.
ONE Great Year
2017 was a great year for Drury Grounds, and I hope it was for your organization as well. We accomplished much, had many successes, and overcame some challenges. But it was only one year. 2018 is our focus now and will bring who knows what. All of us hopefully can look back, build on 2017 and have great hope for the 2018
Thanks for your readership in 2017, and my most sincere wishes for Happy and Prosperous New Year to all the TurfNet family.
Drury Grounds Crew at 2017 DU Holiday Meal