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Curb appeal

  • UMES students pitch & execute a campus beautification project

    Friday, April 16, 2021
    Audacious Douglas, Dutch Harbour & Tyler Ward

    UMES student leaders, some wearing two hats as members of Greek social organizations, partnered with the university's physical plant this week to tackle a landscaping project in the shadow of John T. Williams Hall. 

    Visitors and employees who park adjacent to the venerable administration building will now be greeted as they step onto the Academic Oval by a flowering (white) dogwood and a weeping red Japanese maple flanked by white gardenias and two versions of coral bells, both flowering perennials. 

    A quartet of vintage rose bushes, existing tulips and daffodils and nine Celtic pride Siberian cypress shrubs are also part of the mix.  Purple petunias will soon be added for the 2021 growing season. 

    Student Government Association President Michael Amo credits James Webb, the SGA's vice president, with challenging peers to embrace a meaningful campus beautification project.  Webb said current student leaders are motivated by “leaving a legacy.” 

    “We felt like we've done the campus clean-ups,” Amo said, “and we wanted to do something that we could point to that would set an example.” 

    Added Webb: “we hope this will inspire other students to show pride in our campus - and show the administration we can handle projects like this.” 

    They settled on a well-trodden path near the shuttlebus stop between Williams, Waters and Hazel halls. 

    Over the past several years, a raised bed became overgrown with native plants and weeds, and a few years ago, was altered aesthetically when a winter storm destroyed a centerpiece tree. 

    Amo and Webb found Jicola Sturgis, the university's physical plant director, receptive to their overture of pitching in with a grounds beautification project.

    Jamal Gregory and Jordan Rouse

    Webb and Amo, juniors who also are members of Phi Beta Sigma, said the participating student groups budgeted $200-to-$300 and the university put in roughly another $1,000 to make the project happen. 

    Under the watchful eye of new UMES grounds supervisor Dutch Harbour, about a dozen students spent several hours removing old growth earlier in the week, then returned after physical plant workers excavated tree stumps to make way for the new plantings. 

    “It's certainly a breath of fresh air to have students come out, show some interest in how the campus looks, and make a difference,” Harbour said. 

    He said he was impressed by students' enthusiasm and “leadership.” 

    Nasya Goodman, a senior who heads the Zeta Phi Beta chapter that also had sorors involved, said she signed on because “I thought it was something nice to do -- unique, different.  Planting a garden seemed more rewarding than just picking up trash.” 

    Webb, whose landscaping experience until now had been limited to “cutting grass,” envisioned the landscaping project as a way for students “to give back and showcase what's best about the UMES community.” 

    Amo said “we hope to show that it is possible that with a little creativity and hard work, it's possible to make a difference.” 

    All that's left for the landscaping project to be completed is the application of mulch, and the arrival of petunias from the commercial growers. 

    Meanwhile, Amo and Webb said they also have another beautification project in the works for the opposite side of campus that they hope will be well-received by students when classes resume next fall.