Manager of Grounds making strides toward most beautiful campus in the nation

2018-01-16 07:42:26 - Kohawk Talk

Coe landscaping crew

The landscape at Coe has been changing, and the man leading these efforts is often part of the landscape himself. Manager of Grounds Chad Sunner has pioneered the development of his team and department since bringing the work in-house last year.

"I am proud of helping to create an environment that is pleasing and enjoyable for the students, faculty and staff at Coe College," Sunner said. "I am also honored to be a part of the staff here at Coe. I'm proud of the dedication, encouragement and collaboration from all of the people I've worked with since being here."

Sunner's passion for the outdoors was sparked growing up on his family's 400-acre farm, which inspired him to pursue a career in landscaping. Sunner completed a degree in nursery and landscape management at Kirkwood Community College and continued his education at Mount Mercy University, where he graduated with a bachelor's degree in business management. Out of college, he started his own landscaping business, which taught him the logistics of not only being a small business owner but landscaping in general.

Coe's talented team also includes Assistant Manager of Campus Grounds, Todd Rabey, who specializes in turf management.

"If you ask Todd, he will say he isn't happy with the turf yet. I like that because it shows he is striving for excellence," Sunner said.

"We have also had great student-workers on the grounds team this past year. It has been great to get to know their stories and aspirations while we beautify the campus."

Larry Lee and Lisa Ciha answer questions and give direction as needed, and physical plant staff members all contribute to the team's success.

The grounds-keeping team is responsible for two of Coe's biggest additions that appeared over the summer: the Dan Lehn memorial patio and pergola outside of Hickok Hall, which was the Class of 2017's senior gift, and the Jean Johnson memorial fire pit outside of Struve. Also, with a grant from Hy-Vee, they were able to make improvements to the Coe garden that provides fresh produce. The grant helped fund the installation of a water storage tank, as well as a rain barrel that collects runoff from the Pink House on campus.

One factor that Sunner heavily takes into consideration while working on the campus is how he can implement environmentally friendly and sustainable methods. He understands there is more to landscaping than making the grounds look better, and when methods that are better for the environment can be used, it's a win-win.

"My vision is to have one of the most beautiful campuses in the nation. I also want the campus grounds to be the jewel of the Iowa Conference and the leader in sustainability," Sunner said. "We can achieve this with a clear plan that the whole college can get behind and be proud of."

With the new additions to Coe's landscape come added opportunities for students to get outside and create memories with the friends they've made on campus. Sunner and the entire Coe College grounds-keeping team have played an integral part in that and the campus community is grateful.