For the past couple of weeks, I had the opportunity to shadow Chad Baloy. Chad works not only at Western Washington University (WWU) in Bellingham, Washington, but he works on the university.
Chad is a gardener and groundskeeper at WWU, working to tend to and beautify all the plants that everyone passes by every day. He has been doing so for about two and a half years and is responsible for the northern section of campus that stretches the width of North Garden Street to High Street and the length of Oak Street to Highland Drive. There are eight gardeners on WWU’s campus, each responsible for an assigned section of the campus.
Some of Chad’s duties include weeding, weed eating, pruning and trimming hedges, raking, and planting. It is essentially up to the gardener what they choose to do during the day and as far as choice of plants go, the groundskeeper has lots of flexibility.
Basic supplies are kept in his truck supplied by the university, but most equipment is kept at a facility just outside of campus. When needed, Chad drives there for flowers, mechanical equipment, and other supplies.
Chad considers the plant beds at the Mathes Hall dormitory to be his success story, removing lots of tall, dense weeds.
The Mathes bike garage, which was originally hidden behind all of the weeds, was dark and potentially dangerous. There were spots in the tall weeds where people, both students and non-students, would go to drink and do other concealed activities. Now, the area is well kept with spacious floral bushes and small trees.
At the end of the work day, Chad returns home to a quaint stucco home filled with eclectic mid-century modern furnishings, plants, his wife Natalie, two dogs, a bird, and soon enough, a baby. The backyard reflects Chad’s work on campus coupled with Natalie’s appreciation for food gardening – they maintain a decent sized garden that is abundant with plants of all types.
It is clear that Chad is passionate about what he does and is very knowledgeable in the subject. My intention of this project is to bring to light the work that people do on campus that may be appreciated, but is often overlooked. When you pass by the garden beds on your university’s campus, apartment complex, local park, or anywhere else, be sure to appreciate the upkeep that someone put into putting it there for you to see.