BYU Grounds: Behind the scenes with the people who make campus beautiful

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Education Week crowds have probably noticed the general lack of garbage on the sidewalks, the freshly mowed lawns, the colorful flower beds and the neatly pruned trees.

BYU students, faculty and guests alike can thank the BYU Grounds Maintenance crew, who work hard daily on campus to provide an atmosphere of excellence and serenity.

The grounds crew is made up of over 400 employees, who are responsible for every square inch of BYU’s campus. BYU Grounds operates with four separate specializations: landscape specialty, gardening maintenance, plant and floral, site development and recycling. Each shop works to make the campus neat, clean and beautiful.

Part-time grounds employee Spenser Allen mows the grass on the South Field.

From day to day, workers have seven core tasks: litter pick up/sign posts, weed whip, edge, mow, weed/cultivate, clean up and check and repair sprinklers. Although these are their core tasks, grounds employees take great pride in every detail of campus.

Director of BYU Grounds, Roy Peterman — who will be retiring in October — emphasized the importance of their mission statement to create an optimum atmosphere for learning and inspiration.

“When I sought inspiration on what I should do with my responsibility of directing BYU Grounds, it became very clear to me that I should make this campus a place that angels would want to come and visit and minister to the youth of Zion,” Peterman said.

BYU has a partnership with education through having student employees. According to Peterman, there are more student workers on the BYU Grounds’ crew than at any other university.

“Our commitment is to give students the opportunity to learn valuable skills and information, besides just a paycheck,” Peterman said.

Spenser Allen, a part-time employee of BYU Grounds, said he appreciates the unique work experience that grounds work provides.

“I like that we get to use all different kinds of equipment to get the job done,” Allen said. “Working with different people is cool, and I am being prepared for my future.”

Allen’s boss, John Quist, manages the work that happens on the athletic fields and mentors Allen and other part-time employees. The athletics fields at BYU are kept up throughout the year in order to provide the best surfaces for the athletes to play on.

“We keep the playing surface maintained at a high level for competition,” Quist said. “We do all the painting a day or two before the games and cover the fields to make the surface as perfect as it can be for the athletes.”

BYU and Roy Peterman hold the staff to high expectations, from their care of the athletic fields, to maintenance of the flowers and every blade of grass in between. Stacey Meldrum, the administrative assistant for BYU Grounds, gets to be behind the scenes and see all the hard work that goes into the campus grounds. She appreciates the expertise of the employees and the unique atmosphere BYU provides.

“What I like seeing behind the scenes is the knowledge that goes into the work,” Meldrum said. “The work that the staff does on campus is engineered; it’s all a science, and the workers are all trained extremely thoroughly.”

Meldrum praised the staff for being some of the best in the nation at what they do.

“I appreciate the individual devotion from each employee to what they work on,” Meldrum said. “They don’t just come to do their job, they are experts at what they do.”

According to Meldrum, BYU has one of the highest regarded recycling programs in the nation.

“Our recycling and composting programs are great,” Meldrum said. “We have so many people throughout the nation calling us, (and) asking how we do certain things having to do with recycling. BYU is resourceful and environment-friendly.”

The efforts to recycle and reuse resources has resulted in a 30 percent savings of water on campus. Just about everything on campus, including flowers, plants, food waste and old building materials, are recycled and reused.

Not only do students on campus get to enjoy a beautiful environment taken care of by professionals, they are also provided the luxury of having a safe environment when snow falls.

John Clark, the employee in charge of snow removal, said he regularly wakes his crew up in the middle of the night to come assist in snow removal.

“When the snow falls we call in the crews, sometimes in the middle of the night, and work together to make campus safe before the students and staff walk up the hills for classes,” Clark said. “We get the crew out there to help shovel snow and move it off all the concrete on campus. We also put snow melt down to prevent accidents and keep students safe.”

The beautiful and inspiring atmosphere of BYU campus is available for all students, staff and community members to enjoy.  Without the hard work and professional knowledge of Roy Peterman and his staff at the BYU Grounds office, none of it would be possible.

“So, when all is said and done, with all the things that go on around campus, the one thing that makes the biggest difference is that you, me and everyone else out there is striving to become the best they can be,” Peterman said. “It is a privilege for us to serve the youth of Zion in a way that enables them to gain inspiration and knowledge.”

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