Grounds workers busy during break


How long have students worked on the grounds crew at K-State?

Warmer weather is finally making an appearance in Manhattan, and the change in season brings more work for student employees who work on campus grounds through the Division of Facilities.

According to Joe Myers, supervisor of grounds and maintenance, spring is a busy time for students on the campus grounds crew.

“Early spring is dedicated to tasks like tree and shrub pruning, shrub and flowerbed preparation, pre-emergent weed treatments and general cleanup of the winter grunge,” Myers said. “Open house in April and graduation in May are our guidelines. We have campus cleaned up by open house and flowerbeds planted by graduation.”

High-traffic areas like Higinbotham Gate, Durland Plaza and the Alumni Center are replanted seasonally, Myers said. Some of the flora planted by the grounds crew is grown on campus.

“The grounds department has a greenhouse in the Throckmorton complex, and we try to grow 50-60 percent of our flowers,” said Myers. “We also work with the horticulture department, and the spring bedding plant production class is nice enough to produce some material for us.”

Myers said there are currently more than 20 students employed on the grounds crew. Each crew member works more than 12 hours every week, with more hours worked per week in the summer. However, there was a time when a larger number of students worked daily on the K-State grounds.

In the late nineteenth century, each male student was required to do horticulture or farm work on campus, according to a June 1953 article in the Alumni Association’s K-Stater magazine. Female students were required to work for the university by cooking, working at the dairy, sewing or operating telegraphs.

The college catalog listed the mandatory employment as farm and garden industrial work. Each student was expected to complete five hours of work each week during the afternoons; the young men who did this industrial work became known as “p.m. boys.” The p.m. boys could be spotted around campus and in fields with shovels and pitchforks.

The industrial work was compulsory from 1873 to 1897 under the administrations of K-State Presidents John Anderson and George Fairchild. More than a century later, K-State students are still involved in the upkeep and beautification of the campus grounds.