WARRENSBURG — Through the 2016 Green Star Awards Competition, the Professional Grounds Management Society (PGMS) has recognized the University of Central Missouri with the Honor Award, an achievement that involved a highly competitive entry process that included submissions from colleges and universities nationwide.
Award winners were announced during the society’s 2016 Awards Dinner that took place in conjunction with the PGMS School of Grounds Management & GIE+EXPO in Louisville, Ky., in October. The Green Star Awards program provides national recognition for grounds maintained with a high degree of excellence, complementing other national landscape awards programs that recognize outstanding landscape design and construction.
During the recognition ceremony, PGMS presented four Grand Awards, which is its top honor, as well as 24 Honor Awards and five Merit Awards in nine competition categories. UCM was recognized with an Honor Award in the category for University and College Grounds, small institutions. Separate categories also honored larger colleges and universities, as well as urban universities.
Brad Mackey, a 16-year UCM employee who has served as grounds manager since 2014, praised the campus grounds crew for making this award possible. He also commended the work of Kevin Courtwright, a university alumnus and employee who served the institution as a landscape specialist for several years before he was hired as grounds supervisor in September 2015. Mackey said he named Courtwright to his position with a goal to win a national award.
Courtwright compiled materials that were submitted by the university for the 2016 award competition. This included an extensive array of photographs and information about university grounds that was put into a slide show and sent to a panel of judges. In making award decisions, judges considered areas that included turf, landscape, challenges, budget and sustainable practices.
“Each category is graded on a 20-point scale by the judges, and the categories add up to 100 points,” Courtwright said.
Strengths that judges noted about UCM grounds included positive comments pertaining to turf and striping; annual plants around campus to add vibrant color; texture in shade garden areas; and use of alliums for seasonal events. During the Fourth of July observance, for example, flower beds near The Crossing – South at Holden featured alliums that were painted red, white and blue.
“We have a lot of species diversity,” Mackey said. “We have more flower beds, more variety, more annual plants than a lot of campuses our size. We’re not just green.”
Sustainable practices also were noted, according to Courtwright. He said the university’s grounds management includes efforts related to rainwater collection, including use of a cistern to collect water, use of native plants and ornamentals. The university also creates its own compost made from the leaves of many trees that add shade and help beauty the campus.
Courtwright said the grounds crew maintains approximately 65 acres of turf and 2.5 acres of planting beds, in addition to overseeing maintenance of 19 miles of campus sidewalks.
Release courtesy of University of Central Missouri