BYU Greenhouse manager helps keep campus looking great all year long

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BYU Grounds plant and floral manager Tegwyn Ellingson is one of the driving forces behind the team that makes campus look beautiful all year round.

Shawn Cusworth, a student employee, stands with BYU's plant and floral manager, Tegwyn Ellingson, who helps maintain campus year-round. (Photo courtesy Tegwyn Ellingson)
Shawn Cusworth, a student employee, stands with BYU’s plant and floral manager, Tegwyn Ellingson, who helps maintain campus year-round. (Photo courtesy Tegwyn Ellingson)

As the plant and floral manager, Ellingson manages the BYU Grounds Greenhouse. He is in charge of taking care of the many indoor plants on campus, as well as purchasing and growing different flowers that are found around campus throughout the year. Ellingson maintains a beautiful campus and also creates a fun environment for his student team while doing so.

Ellingson started out like many BYU students. When he first got to college he wasn’t sure what he wanted to study. He felt that there were many different directions he could take, but was uncertain about what he would like to do for the rest of his life.

“I had no clue what I was going to do before I got married,” Ellingson said. “I just bounced around between different majors. I was going to do public relations, but then I jumped over to international relations. Then I met my wife, and she asked me what I was going to do with my life.”

Ellingson and his wife decided to sit down and make a list of different subjects that were interesting to him. In one semester he took different classes, each with subject matter related to something he liked to do.

“When I was growing up I used to help do stuff in the yard: plant trees and flowers, take care of the garden, landscaping and things like that,” Ellingson said. “I found out there was a program here at BYU, and I signed up for the living with plants introductory class and I ended up sticking with plants.”

After graduation, Ellingson moved to Los Angeles with his young family. He worked for the landscaping company Initial Tropical Plants until he and his family decided California wasn’t for them. They returned to Utah, and Ellingson started working at Temple Square as a gardening manager. It was at Temple Square that he heard about an open job at BYU as the plant and floral manager. After he applied, he was hired and has been at BYU for the last six years.

Since working on campus, Ellingson has had many responsibilities, but some of them may go unnoticed. A few of those responsibilities include taking care of plants in the library, cultivating the poinsettias that show up on campus around Christmas and preparing all the flowers on campus for planting.

Ellingson has also created a great environment for his student employees. Though he requires a lot of his employees, he makes sure that work can be fun as well.

Shawn Cusworth, a landscape management major from Portland, Ore., has worked at the Greenhouse for almost two years. Working there has helped him learn a lot and helped to prepare him for his future.

“Working with Tegwyn has been fun,” Cusworth said. “He studied the same thing as me, so he has been able to teach me a lot of useful things and give me good advice on what I should do.”

Stephanie Snow, a community recreating management major from Provo, said she has enjoyed her time working at the Greenhouse and has learned a lot from Ellingson.

“Tegwyn is a very caring boss,” Snow said. “He really cares about his employees, but sometimes it’s hard to see because he masks it with sarcasm.”

Snow feels that her time at the Greenhouse has been well spent and that she has learned more than just how to take care of plants.

“(Working at the Greenhouse) has given me experience as a leader. … It has helped me gain a little more confidence and has pushed me to do things that I was sacred to do before,” she said. “These experiences will help me later in life, and I will be able to reflect back on them and see how I overcame certain problems.”

Although sometimes his work may go unnoticed, Ellingson’s work continues to keep campus looking beautiful, both inside and out.

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