Colleges are places of education for people pursuing knowledge and degrees in various different fields of study.
But in the shadows, there are people who work around these institutions so that people can continue to further their education successfully in a pleasant setting.
Jake Rick is a Castleton University grounds supervisor whose job is to keep our campus as beautiful as we describe it and maintain safety as well.
“Being an alumni, I take a lot of pride within the Castleton Campus to make sure this campus looks clean,” Rick said.
On a daily basis, Rick and his four other grounds crew members will pick up fallen leaves, cut grass, trim shrubs, and even set up events for conferences and tailgating.
“I enjoy my job because I get to be outside all day,” said Rick with a big smile.
Being a part of the Castleton grounds crew for 10 years, Rick has dedicated time and hard work into this field. And having worled in lawn services since high school, Rick brings experience and dedication and is always striving to do more.
Chuck Lavoie, the director of Castleton University Facilities Department, praised Rick on his diligence in the workplace and his dedication to keeping campus looking pristine.
“Jake is a great worker, dedicated to Castleton. Jake is a hands-on supervisor and a tech guy,” Lavoie said. “Jake has helped us turn paperwork into an electronic system for our vehicle systems.”
Living in Vermont, the weather fluctuates dramatically from hot days in the 80s and 90s to freezing cold below-zero temperatures. In order to maintain the campus throughout all of these climates requires constant work.
“On average we get about 74 inches of snowfall so we start preparing for the seasonal changes around this time of the year,” said Rick referring to the middle of the fall semester.
Rick has also been researching an environmentally friendly system for salting the roads and walkways around campus in the winter in order to effectively remove snowfall without damaging the greenery.
“Jake is the spearhead for brining solutions. Salt brine is made of salt and water which will help stick to the sidewalks and it’s better than just pouring regular salt on. One benefit is that it is better for the environment,” Lavoie said.
Along with ensuring the sidewalks and roads are consistently plowed, Rick and his crew need to be cautious to avoid cars that are parked in the lots during the school year.
“The guys work long hours during the winter and some stay on call to help whenever an issue happens with snow removal,” said Lavoie. “There is 600,000 square feet that needs to be accounted for.”
This means that Jake’s crew is constantly working to maintain not only the beauty but the safety of campus as well.
Though groundskeeping is a behind the scenes and often underappreciated role, the individuals involved in maintaining a college campus are integral to the success of the university as a whole.
“I am extremely grateful for our workers and their diligence with the amount of work that we have to do. Jake and the crew work hard day in and day out to ensure this campus looks beautiful,” Lavoie said.
And students take notice of their efforts too.
“When I decided to come to Castleton for my freshman year, I really enjoyed the campus and how well kept the campus was. I honestly did not pay much attention to the outside part of the campus on my first visit and did not realize how much work needs to be done,” said Matthew Hessford, a senior at Castleton.