A message from Stacey Johnson, President, East & Winter Park Campuses
The East Campus Operations team, under the leadership of David Gennaro, managing director, grounds, who is responsible for all Valencia campuses, has been working hard to create a sustainable approach to making the campus aesthetically appealing.
“I understand the importance of keeping our campus attractive since 62 percent of high school seniors make their choice of institution on the basis of the appearance of the campus buildings and grounds, according to the Society for College and University Planning,” David explained.
On East Campus, the Grounds Operations team is bringing color back onto campus by strategically incorporating native Floridian plants on the campus grounds, with the goal that the native plants will thrive long-term. To help maintain the native plants, the team will also use a new computerized irrigation system designed to use moisture sensors that automatically adjust sprinkler run times to maintain necessary moisture levels.
A butterfly garden, on the east side of Building 8, was planted in February 2014 by student members of the Valencia Earth Studies Association (VESA). The garden has been thriving over the last two years under the care of VESA students. With many of the flowers on the plants dying due to the garden’s natural cycle of life, the garden may not look particularly beautiful or colorful at this time — with the exception of the dashes of color brought to life by its butterfly inhabitants. However, this is a good sign as it means the garden is working and naturally evolving. Flowers on plants that look dead or plants that have all their leaves eaten should not be cut as they can turn into seeds or berries to feed the native birds as this naturally sustained garden continues to grow and evolve.
Over the next few months, the grounds operations team will be further pruning the foliage, as well as trimming and reshaping many existing plants and bushes.
The team will also work to make our grounds safer. For example, the team has already been conducting tree-risk assessments to ensure the trees are healthy and are not a safety liability to the public. The tree review will be continuing with a goal of re-obtaining the Tree Campus USA designation, which is a part of the Arbor Day Foundation.
Whether by planting new trees and plants or caring for existing ones, the grounds team is dedicated to keeping the campus beautiful — tree by tree.