Do you ever wonder how Iowa State University maintains such nice fields and grass? This week we took the time to sit down with one of our recreational staff members to take a deeper look into what it takes to maintain our grounds.
Meet Brent Cunningham, a professional staff employee who graduated from ISU in 2005 with a degree in Horticulture with an emphasis in Turf Management. Brent is the Assistant Manager of Facilities and Grounds for Recreation Services and for the last seven years has been the man to consult at ISU with all things turf.
When asking Brent why he became interested in this field of study, he told us how he always liked going outside and had a passion for golf and green grass. He decided to attend Iowa State University because the price, location, and programs available had the best fit for him.
Looking more into what it takes to manage ISU’s grounds, Brent told us that his day to day work in the winter oftentimes consists of a lot of prep work for the spring. Most of this work consists of cleaning and maintenance of all of the equipment that he and his team will use once the weather shapes up. He even said that over this spring break they started painting their first lines on the field (pictured below: the first line of this year) and now the team is just starting to prep some of the sport fields by putting up nets as well.
Brent went on to say if it wasn’t for his student staff the fields wouldn’t be up to the standards that they are today. The student staff does a lot of the work to make sure the sport clubs, intramurals, and outdoor events are all set to run smoothly. During the summer, the staff prepares all the grounds that Iowa State uses to host Special Olympics along with the Iowa Games. To make sure those go according to plan, the staff spends hours managing grass and painting fields and in the end, all the work they do leads to a successful event.
Unfortunately, not everything in the turf department is green grass and rainbows. Brent said, the craziest thing that has happened to him while working here on staff was that in 2013, Ames received eight inches of snow on May fourth! This happened right before Softball Club was scheduled to have a series of games, that later had to be rescheduled due to the unexpected weather.
But, from time to time the turf crew does get a nice surprise. Brent claims that every now and then he and his staff will come in contact with some wild critters. One of his staff members claims they see a wild fox that likes to roam around one of their fields. No matter the surprise the turf team runs into, whether it is crazy weather or a maintenance problem, they are always ready to take it on and grow our facilities to make them the best they can be. When watching to see what the team is going to do in the upcoming year make sure to keep an eye on some big changes out at MWL fields.