NEWARK, Ohio, June 2, 2016 – The weather has been all over the place this spring, but that isn't stopping employee volunteer gardeners at The Ohio State University at Newark and Central Ohio Technical College (COTC) from getting out to take care of their flower beds. Started by Grounds Superintendent Dan Longstreth 13 years ago, the Adopt-a-Garden program allows faculty and staff to adopt flower beds on campus during the spring and summer months, helping to keep the campus beautiful.
"I suggested starting the program in 2003 because we had a small grounds department, and we needed help during the summer months keeping the weeds back and taking care of the flowers," said Longstreth.
In addition to maintaining the flower beds, the Grounds Department on campus is in charge of mowing, leaf removal, turf renovation, fertilization of turf and plant material and the application of pesticides and herbicides. The crew also removes trash and debris from lawn areas, roadways, parking lots, sidewalks, building entryways and Rotary Park.
"The program allows employees to design, plant and take care of their assigned flower bed during work hours," said Longstreth. The campus supports the program by providing the flowers, along with the water and mulch to care for the beds. The only thing asked of employees is their time and their love.
"Leadership on the campus is very supportive of allowing employees to leave their office during the day and take care of their flower beds," said Longstreth. "It gets employees outside and helps them to take pride in their campus."
Longstreth and his grounds crew work with employees to develop their flower beds. They talk to the employee gardeners about their plans and give them suggestions on types of plants to put in their beds. "It's really a great program," said Longstreth. "If it wasn't for my gardeners, the student workers, the temporary workers we have on campus and the full-time grounds crew, this campus would not look as good as it does."
However, it's not just about beauty for Longstreth. He has an associate degree in horticulture from The Ohio State University, along with a bachelor's degree in business management and a master's degree in business administration from Mount Vernon Nazarene. He has worked on the shared campus of Ohio State Newark and COTC since May 2000. When he is not at work, he is a bee keeper. He manages 10 apiaries in Muskingum and Licking counties.
"Plants and gardening are so important for many reasons," said Longstreth. "I'm so glad the campus community can be involved and get out to enjoy nature."
Central Ohio Technical College and The Ohio State University at Newark have forged an outstanding array of educational opportunities for the central Ohio region and beyond. This partnership is viewed as a model for higher education in the state of Ohio. At Central Ohio Technical College, students gain hands-on, applicable experience to begin working in the field, or to transfer those credits toward a bachelor's degree program. The Ohio State University at Newark offers an academic environment that's challenging but supportive with world-renowned professors and access to Ohio State's more than 200 majors.