The grounds crew supervisor has experience and a passion for the outside of campus.Craig Johnson enjoys being outside. This is a valuable quality for a man to have when his job includes taking care of campus and managing others who do the same. However, the work of a grounds crew supervisor extends far beyond mowing.
“What we do every day varies,” Johnson, head of the grounds crew at Goshen College’s Physical Plant, said. “It changes depending on the season or what is happening on campus.”
Johnson typically starts off the week with a Monday morning trash run, emptying all the outdoor trash on campus and picking up any larger debris that might be around.
The grounds crew operates mostly on a work order system; if something needs to be done and is brought to the attention of the grounds crew they will take care of it. Johnson also cites experience as a way of keeping track of their to-do list.
“After a while you sort of remember, or keep track of what needs to be done at what point during the year,” Johnson said.
Priorities shift along with the seasons. In autumn, leaf removal takes priority as the campus’ many trees start to lose their leaves. The long days of snow removal come in the wintertime, as the grounds crew works diligently to allow students and faculty access to the sidewalks and parking lots.
Then in the spring, after the last frost, Johnson likes to start planting.
“I mostly just decide what goes where,” he said, in regard to the floral and planting arrangements on campus. “We generally know what types of flowers or plants consistently do better or worse in certain areas, and we go with that.”
Although the grounds crew hires students to work year-round, the help is harder to come by during the school year. Students are usually only able to work a few hours a week taking care of things like mowing, watering or trash collection.
However, in the summer the crews are hired and campus is divided into work sections. Willie Deegan, Johnson’s assistant supervisor, heads a smaller group of students, who work on the east side of the tracks. Johnson oversees a temporary supervisor who works with the rest of the student workers on the west side of the tracks. The students spend the summer planting, watering, mulching, sweeping, cleaning fountains and doing other things needed to prepare campus for another year.
Johnson raises his eyebrows as he mentions being at Goshen College for 24 years.
“I didn’t expect to be here this long and I love the work,” he said, “but the neatest part of this job truly is the students that I’ve met in these 24 years.”