At Murray State University in western Kentucky, the grounds care team provides year-round service across the campus.
This public university in Murray, KY comprises a 258-acre campus. In Fall 2021, SSC Services for Education was recognized by the PGMS Green Star Awards® program for its grounds care program there.
Peter Reimnitz, grounds manager for SSC Services for Education at Murray State, shares insight on his team’s work.
This past October, the Professional Grounds Management Society (PGMS) recognized educational facilities and grounds management provider SSC Services for Education for its exceptional level of grounds care at Murray State University. SSC was awarded with an Honor Green Star Award in the University and College Grounds category. The SSC team was presented with the acknowledgment during the PGMS School of Grounds Management Annual Conference in Louisville, KY in conjunction with the GIE+EXPO (now Equip Exposition).
The PGMS Green Star Awards program brings national recognition to grounds maintained with a high degree of excellence, complementing other national landscape award programs that recognize outstanding landscape design and construction. Grand, Honor, and Merit Awards are offered in 15 categories. The judging criteria are: overall aesthetics; staff professionalism; response to grounds related challenges; sustainable practices; and safety.
Murray, KY, often referred to as the Friendliest Small Town in America, is located in the far western region of Kentucky, an area with a climate classified as a transition zone.
From extremely hot summers to sporadic cold temperatures and storms in the winter, the SSC team works to provide year-round grounds management services across the 258-acre campus. Each changing season, SSC works diligently to deliver enhanced curb appeal reflective of the deep university traditions by rotating annuals, trimming shrubs, and deadheading perennials to allow for optimal color. Meanwhile, SSC partners with the University’s Agriculture Department’s Horticulture classes to grow plants in the school greenhouse.
Over the last few years, SSC has also taken significant steps to be more sustainable, including using electric tools whenever possible, facilitating the university recycling program, and more.
Peter Reimnitz, grounds manager for SSC Services for Education, at Murray State shared a few insights with Turf about caring for the campus landscape.
Working at the Murray State University campus, is there a notable challenge or highlight you can share related to weather impacts?
Living in western Kentucky the weather is constantly changing. During the Summer we can have hot, muggy days with pop up storms that can produce up to an inch of rain in 30 minutes. In the Winter months it can be 60° one day and the next day rain that turns into freezing rain followed by snow.
In the Summer, during the first half of the week we try to mow, edge, and trim and perform other landscape management in areas prone to holding water. Being flexible around the weather is integral to our program. Winter can be hard because the weather may be predicted two to three days before the winter storm hit however, we may get 3″ of snow or a light dusting of snow. The University housing department is always ready to help when winter weather is looming—accommodating our crew with open dorm rooms, if needed. This a great help for the crew to be able to stay on campus without missing work due to weather.
Sustainable practices continue to grow in the industry. In recent years, what changes have you introduced in response?
We have been using more organic based fertilizer which provides a longer feed to the plants and reduces the amount of fertilizer that is used overall. We also recognize that we are not only feeding the plants, we are feeding the soil. We have incorporated more flowering perennials like tulips for good spring color each year. We also have a simple compost pile where clippings, green waste, and fall leaves are composted.
SSC Services for Education accounts at Lake-Sumter State College, Metropolitan School District of Lawrence Township, and Simpson College also received recognition in the 2021 PGMS Green Star Awards.
What is a point of pride for you on this campus?
I would have to say the flower beds. Between the Spring and Fall flowers, we plant over 10,000 annual plants each year. It’s a lot of work, but it’s big highlight on campus with a good portion of those plants coming from the Murray State Horticulture program. Also, I must mention the great improvement of the athletic fields.
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