Maria Mendez (foreground) and Matthew Pruitt try to beat the heat while working on Pioneer Circle. Photo by Michael Modecki

Summer challenges plants, workers

You never get a second chance to make a first impression.

That old adage is something Robert Trevino, manager of TWU’s landscape operations, takes to heart every day.

“The first thing potential students see is the landscaping,” he said. “If it doesn’t look well-maintained, it creates an uninviting atmosphere. They might question whether they want to spend the next four years here.”

Trevino says it’s a daily challenge to keep the grounds looking beautiful. The summer months add to that challenge.

The campus irrigation system takes care of watering the grass, trees and shrubs during the hot, dry season. While most trees and shrubs on campus have acclimated to conditions, grounds crew members do manually water newly-planted trees and shrubs.

Flowers at the main entrance at Bell Avenue and Administration Drive provide a warm welcome for visitors. The flowers are changed out three times a year, Trevino said — petunias for spring, pansies for fall/winter and periwinkle for summer, because “It can handle the heat.”

Trevino does what he can to help his crew handle the heat. He knows what it’s like — he started on the grounds crew more than 25 years ago.

“We start work at 7 a.m. and try to do as much as we can in the morning,” he said. “We also provide them with lots of water and Gatorade.”

The Landscape Operations staff consists of 18 men and women who do much more than care for the campus vegetation. In icy winter conditions, they spread sand in areas where people or vehicles may be prone to slips or spinning tires. In the spring, they prepare for any storms that might blow through campus. They also repair potholes on university-owned streets; provide greenery from TWU’s own greenhouses for commencement and other special events; and respond to calls for pest control.

With the closing of the TWU Golf Course, they’ve taken over maintenance of that area as well.

Then, there’s turtle-wrangling.

“We’ll get calls that the turtles from the Texas Pond are trying to cross Bell (Avenue) and people are worried they’ll be run over, so we go get them and take them back to the pond,” Trevino said.

The grounds crew also maintains the athletics fields, and Trevino is proud that their work has been recognized nationally.

TWU’s Pioneer Field was named the Sports Turf Managers Association’s College/University Division Softball Field of the Year in 2002 and received the 2011 Stablizer Solutions/National Fastpitch Coaches Association Division II Field Maintenance Award. The university also received Professional Grounds Management Society Honor Awards in 2007, 2010, 2013 and 2017 for outstanding professional accomplishment and excellence in grounds management.

“The staff is the backbone of the department,” Trevino said. “They are dependable, and they go the extra mile to provide the best service for the campus.”

It takes a lot of hard work to keep the campus looking beautiful throughout the year, but Trevino doesn’t mind.

“It’s a challenge, but I enjoy the heck out of it,” he said. “When you have the right people, it makes the job a lot easier.”


By Karen Garcia
Senior Writer