Welcome to The Campus Green
Welcome to The Campus Green – an online resource, community gathering place, and consulting service provider helping groundskeepers, facility directors, and property managers keep better grounds.
The grounds you care for are your institution’s major marketing tool and part of their branded identity, a daily gathering and commuting spaces, and your customer’s first impression. It’s all in your hands. You are responsible for making it look great, keeping things safe and functional, and doing it all under budget. You care for annuals, perennials, turf, trees, hard surfaces, snow and ice, equipment, personnel, budgets, contractors, customers (internal and external), irrigation systems, and much more. That’s a big job! I’ve been there and I needed help. You probably do too. The Campus Green is a gathering space for those of us who care for the exterior landscape of our institutions. Together we can learn from each other, encourage one another, and grow together.
And if I can help you directly, please fill out the form below. I’d be happy to talk with you.
My name is Russell Bray and I began my career in Grounds Management while studying Elementary Education in college. Stuck in class and staring out the window, I watched the grounds crew mow the campus green and realized that I would much rather be on the mower than in the classroom. Days later, I applied for a student position at the Physical Plant and worked the summer pushing a mower, running a string trimmer and loving every second of it. After graduation I found a job mowing grass at a country club, learning the basics of grounds management from my superintendent. Having graduated from Michigan State University’s turfgrass program, he suggested I look into the program myself.
After finishing the Sports and Commercial Turfgrass program at Michigan State, I learned the ropes of running a grounds shop at the college level while focusing on sports turf management. The groundskeepers I worked with took the time to teach me and give me a variety of opportunities for growth. I watched how they managed their time, their equipment, and each other. I observed the care they gave to their campus and the passion they brought to their job. Seeing their care for their campus and the students they interacted with, I knew I wanted to be as good at my job as they were at theirs. I asked constant questions and learned about flower bed design, snow removal techniques, hard surface care, project management, and the importance of everything looking clean and kept at all times.
One year later I moved to the Chicago suburbs for the chance to run my own grounds shop at the university level. I quickly learned that technical knowledge alone was not enough to successfully run an entire operation. To take my shop where I wanted it to go, I had to sharpen my soft skills as well; leadership, vision casting, maintenance scheduling, hiring, firing, motivating, purchasing, and more. I continued to learn, becoming an ISA certified arborist, joining the APPA mentoring program, and taking facilities management courses. We made numerous improvements to campus, our shop, our equipment, and our staff. Most importantly, perhaps, was how our shop became and active and integrated part of the institution. Instead of being, “just the guys on the mowers”, we became champions for the exterior beauty of the school, working with the marketing department, the campus architect’s office, student life, the surrounding community, and others to make our landscape, athletic fields, and exterior gathering spaces an integral part of our school’s identity. I learned project management, contractor management, how to build relationships and partnerships with other departments, and how facilities operations function within the university setting.
While working in the Chicago-land area, I began to build relationships with other groundskeepers. I would call for advice, visit their campus, and buy them lunch, all in an attempt to learn anything I could from those with more experience than myself. Talking to so many groundskeepers, I began to realize that each of us were somewhat isolated and desired to interact with others who understood what we did day-in and day-out. Twice a year, a group of us began to meet to tour each others campuses, and then talk shop over lunch. In between meetings we would swap emails, phone calls, and continue to support each other. That group would plant the seed for The Campus Green. In a way, this site is an extension of what that group started in Chicago. My hope is that people from all different institutions, backgrounds, and specialties will gather here to learn and grow together.
In 2014, my family moved to central Ohio where I became the Assistant Director of Facilities Operations for a local university. During that time I in-sourced a housekeeping operation, ran a campus safety department, reorganized a facility maintenance department, completed my MBA in Organizational Management and will move into the Director of Facilities position in May of 2017.
Equipped with experience as a grounds worker, grounds manager, and facility director, I am uniquely equipped to understand both groundskeepers and administrators. I specialize in closing the communication gap that often exists between these two groups, finding practical solutions to the problems groundskeepers face and the results that administrators desire. Let me know if I can help your institution by either providing material through The Campus Green or working directly with you and your institution. Together we can keep better grounds.
Work with Russell
Learn more about the ways Russell can help your institution look its best on the Services page, or fill out the form below.