Kaitlin Oki/Nevada Sagebrush

By Lauren Huneycutt

Twenty-eight cubic meters of manure and fresh soil, 400 pounds of new grass seed, six workers and three days is what it took for the Facilities Maintenance Services Grounds Department employees to put the quad to sleep for its annual rest.

Spring is in the air for students at the University of Nevada, Reno, and with graduation right around the corner, the quad was due for its tune-up.

The signs hanging from the ropes blocking off the quad warn students “mother quad is sleeping.”

“We overseed the grass to try to fill in the blank spaces,” said Brandon Hill, a part-time geography and geology student at the university and a full-time groundskeeper. “Then we dress the lawn with the manure to give it nutrients and cover up the grass seeding. We’ll be watering four to six times a day until they germinate, then we will go back to a regular watering schedule.”

Hill, who has been part of the grounds department for the last seven years, is part of a three-man groundskeeper team here at the university. The groundskeepers are grouped into teams they collaborate with daily to care for the campus.

Hill is on a team with Scott Sireika and Nellie Aguilar.

Sireika has been a facility maintenance worker in the grounds department for five years. His background in construction, the specific work he has done in Tahoe on the hotels and use of large equipment helped pave the way to his grounds job now.

“We all have zones we take care of,” Sireika said. “The first half of the day we are separate, and then in the afternoon we team up and work on one project together.”

The groundskeepers are in charge of cutting the turf, trimming trees, pruning roses, cleaning leaves, pulling weeds, picking up trash, emptying the trash cans and even wiping down the metal lids of the trash cans to keep the cans themselves clean.

“The place would look pretty rough without us,” Sireika said. “Every person in our department takes a lot of pride in our job, and we make sure it looks great.”

Nellie Aguilar, who was born in Los Angeles and raised in Mexico, is the third team member of this group.

Before working for the grounds department, Aguilar worked in the custodial department and has been an employee of the university for the last nine years.

“I don’t mind the hard work around the school,” Aguilar said. “I like being outside, so I like the ground work.”

Students may see some of the groundskeepers driving the green Gator Utility Vehicles to carry their equipment and supplies around campus.

Aguilar frequently uses a Gator and drove one filled with manure across the quad during the preparation and fertilization process.

“It’s a big deal for graduation, so we want the quad to look nice,” Aguilar said.

The staff will begin setting up hundreds of chairs to prepare the quad the Monday before spring commencement.

“We’ve been here for a long time, we love what we do and want the university to be the best it can,” Sireika said.

Lauren Huneycutt can be reached at lhuneycutt@sagebrush.unr.edu.