So you are in charge of this whole greenhouse?
I'm it. I take care of all the plants here in the greenhouse.
What kinds of things do you do?
We deliver plants to about every function on campus. If there's a groundbreaking or some dignitary coming in, we get a work order for it and it's my job to see that the plants get there and to set them up. And when it's over, I pick them up and bring them back to the greenhouse. That's my main job. There are 437 plants in the greenhouse right now that I take care of -- water, fertilize, spray for bugs and do whatever has to be done to make them look good. Since Jan. 1, I've moved 2,338 plants out of the greenhouse. Plus, there are 414 plants on campus in 15 different buildings that I water every week.
What are the most popular plants that people request for functions?
The palms mainly. We have large ones and small ones. And they like Chinese evergreens and the Boston ferns. Also the fica trees.
Is this a free service for departments on campus?
No, there's a charge. It's $50 for one to 12 plants, $100 for 12 to 24 plants and $150 for anything over 24. We've had as many as 169 plants go out of here at one time. That was for the women's conference at the Assembly Hall. It pretty well emptied out the greenhouse that day.
Did you know anything about plants when you started?
Very little. Gordy Davis, who had the job before me, taught me quite a bit. And then I have Jim Smith and Bill Hoffman, our horticulturists, and if I need to ask them any questions they're always right here. And my boss, Rich Hissong, helps me a lot.
It's kind of a lonely job isn't it?
You're here all by yourself. Well, yeah. Today I'm in the greenhouse all day watering and I've looked for bugs and seen if there's anything I need to spray. But tomorrow I'll come in and fill my water tank and I'll go on campus.
Do you keep houseplants at home?
I take care of enough right here. I've got some African violets and maybe a pothos or two, but I have a lot of plants out in the yard -- roses, zinnias and all kind of plants. I tinker in the yard a lot when I'm not fishing.
Fishing is my hobby. I fish almost every weekend. If I get a chance, I'm gone.
Are you a boat fisherman?
Oh yes. I have three boats. [He laughs.] I have a 12-foot one that I use at the stone quarry in Fairmount, and I have a 14-footer that I use on little bigger lakes that will let you use motors, and I have a 20-foot Stratus with a 200-horse on it that I take to the big lakes. It's a fish and ski boat. I can take the grandkids on it.
What if you can't fish? What do you do?
Well, my dad farms. We've got a lot of farm ground so dad and I and my three brothers, we farm. If he can catch me home before I hook on my boat then I'll go help him. But if he can't catch me early enough then I'm usually gone.
Do you clean and cook your own fish?
Oh yes. I deep-fry them. I've had several fish fries. I think the largest fish fry I had there were like 78 people there. I have two freezers. I keep fish in one and everything else in the other. I have enough fish in there right now that could probably feed 100 people. Mainly crappie, blue gill and bass.
How long do you think you'll do this job?
I hope to retire in six more years. I'll be 60 and that's when I want to retire.
Wonder what you'll do then?
[He laughs.] I'm gonna fish.