Maintenance Technician, Blacklick Woods Golf Course
Hometown and background
I was born in Columbus, but my family moved to Daytona in Florida when I was two years old. Even though we moved back to Columbus when I was 11, I still feel a great attraction for Florida. I think my love of being outdoors dates from those early years. We were out all the time in great weather. In 2018, while I was at Northland High School, I joined the CSI program (Metro Parks’ Columbus City Schools Initiative) and got my first introduction to Metro Parks. I came back for a second year on the then new CSI Plus program, and had a great experience. I spent time working at many different parks and enjoyed learning new skills, such as using vehicle mowers, cutting and pruning trees using chainsaws, and interacting with visitors and Metro Parks staff.
I went to The Ohio State University in 2019, to major in zoology. When Covid hit us, classes were largely transferred to online teaching, which didn’t suit me too well. I eventually transferred my major to Arts, which still had some in-person classes, and which helped me develop my love of fine arts and photography. The entire experience of education during the pandemic dented my satisfaction and I didn’t feel it was the right time to continue at the university. I felt a need to work and earn an income, and so I left OSU after a couple of years.
What I do at Metro Parks
I have kept in touch with my CSI Coordinator, Tony Jackson. Earlier this year, Tony suggested I might like to think about the possibility of coming back to Metro Parks as an employee. I’m pleased to know that I made a good impression on Tony and other employees at Metro Parks during my time on the CSI program, and so I was delighted to have to chance to interview for a position of a maintenance technician here at Blacklick Woods Golf Course. I started here in August this year, which was busy season for mowing on the golf courses. My experience as a CSI intern had taught me how to use many of the parks’ vehicles. It’s a little different here at the golf course. We have about six different mowers that we need for different tasks, depending on whether we’re mowing the greens, or the fairways, the fairway rough, or the tees. I’m one of two full-time maintenance technicians here at the golf course, and we have one part-time technician too. Now that winter is fast approaching, we’re preparing for a lot of tree cutting. We’ve already spent time locating trees that need to be felled, for safety reasons. We’ve marked more than forty, mostly oaks or maple trees, that we need to bring down. It can be stressful, cutting down trees and making sure they fall in the right direction. For safety reasons, there are always at least two of us on the job when we cut down a tree, and we’ve been well trained for the task.
What I love most about my job
I think it’s great to be able to work mostly outdoors. As golf course maintenance technicians, we all know what our tasks are and we’re trusted and given the freedom and responsibility to get them done on time. I find that satisfying and empowering. I enjoy all the work, although my favorite work activity is when we get to change the location of the holes on the putting greens. During the season, we change the holes on each green twice a week. The holes have to fit a special cup that is four and a quarter inches in diameter and seven inches deep and we use a special tool to make them. It takes a bit of force to operate, especially on the short course, which is more dirt and rock rather than the more sandy ground of the championship course. Once we cut the new hole, we move the cup to the new hole, and fill in the old hole with the perfectly cylindrical soil, topped by turf. It’s been fun to learn about the challenges of pin location and making the greens more fun for our golfers.
My favorite Metro Parks activity
I enjoy hiking, and seeing wildlife as you walk the trails. I also see a lot of wildlife at the golf course while I’m working, so that’s another thing to love about my job. These days we see a lot of wild turkeys at the golf course, and there are frequent encounters with deer, which I love to see. One of my favorite parks to hike at is Blendon Woods, which has some beautiful trails. Sycamores are my favorite trees, and there’s one trail at Blendon Woods where you see a lot of them. Inniswood is a great place to walk and see sun-basking turtles, snakes and frogs.
My favorite Metro Parks story that includes a positive visitor interaction
There is one frequent visitor to the golf course, who I encounter quite often. He has let me know on several occasions how much he appreciates the hard work that both myself and my fellow technicians put in to keeping the golf course in great condition and so very playable. In turn, I find myself inspired by this particular gentleman. I have got to know him quite well. He suffered a stroke which affected his mobility and paralyzed one half of his body. Golf is therapy for him. He hits his drives, fairway shots and putts with one arm on the club only. And he hits it better than many of the golfers I see on the course! I get a strong sense of satisfaction to know that my work is appreciated and is helpful to such an inspiring person.
If I could go anywhere in the world and time and money were not a concern…
I would love to go to Iceland. I’d even like to live there! From reading about it, and seeing photos, it seems like a magical place, very far from ordinary. It’s a mountainous country with very clean air. Apparently, you can see the northern lights frequently there, and it’s a breathtaking sight. Also, the cost of living is really low there, but life expectancy is very high. I’m a keen photographer, and would love the chance to take photos in Iceland. That would be like heaven to me.
Life news to share
I’m keen to share something from my work life, here at the golf course. It’s an idea I’m helping our team to develop, a program to encourage high-school golf teams to become better golfers and inspire others to take up the game. The program involves both regular and drone photography, to record a golfer’s shot and follow it from tee to green. It’s in the very early stages of an idea, but because I have such a love of photography, I’m eager to participate in the development and excited to see it come about eventually.
Fun facts about me and my family
1. I love art and photography. I make pencil drawings of people, either from life or from photographs, either of friends or of celebrities. I’m also working right now on a social justice project, a drawing on a large canvas which reflects my own changed perceptions after discussing the abuse of women with two victims. I’m also beginning to create charcoal drawings of landscapes. I enjoy the way you can smooth out the charcoal for shading. Photography is another major interest of mine. I did a documentary project as part of a college class, working with others to document a long-abandoned but now supposedly “haunted” prison in Newark, Ohio. The prison closed down in the 1940s and has been abandoned since, but it certainly had a “spooky” atmosphere, and especially in a basement area that had apparently been used as a solitary confinement room. I even had a sense I was being “touched” by unseen hands when I was in that room!
2. I’m the eldest of three siblings in my family. I have two younger sisters. The youngest, Helen, is a junior in High School. My other sister is named Chyna. She was named after the famous female wrestler of that name, who often worked with one of the most famous wrestlers ever, Triple H. Chyna and I used to watch the wrestling together when we were younger. My sister, Chyna, is at college, now, studying criminology.
3. My mother is the heart of our family. My momma and dad are what I think of when I hear the word “love.” They are like a yin and yang, always wanting to do things together. Even after more than 25 years of marriage, they never like to be apart. They are so much in love with each other, even after so many ups and downs in life.
My favorite food and dessert
Pizzas are my favorite food. I particularly like a deep dish pizza. The thicker crust makes it more filling. My favorite toppings are pepperoni, mushrooms, and green peppers. I often make my own pizzas, all from scratch, including the dough. If I don’t have the time to make my own, a great alternative is Vick’s Pizza, on Main Street here in Reynoldsburg. My mom and my sisters all make brilliant strawberry shortcakes. I nearly always get to take some home with me after I visit them.
My favorite entertainment
I read a lot. Just now, I’m re-reading the Harry Potter books. Although the movies were good, I much prefer reading the books. I like watching the Marvel movies. My favorites are Captain America: Civil War; Avengers: Infinity War; and the first Black Panther movie. The second Black Panther movie was also very enjoyable, and included a very moving tribute to Chadwick Boseman. A TV show I’m enjoying just now is Peaky Blinders. It’s on Netflix and is an epic gangster-family story set in Birmingham, England just after the first world war. My favorite sport to watch is the NBA and the team that both my dad and I follow is the Portland Trailblazers. We particularly like Damien Lillard, their star player, and like the fact that he committed to remain with the team rather than take the big bucks and move to another franchise, like so many other star players have done.
If I had just 60 seconds to share why I love working at Metro Parks, I’d say…
As I mentioned earlier, it’s great to work at a place where you can immerse yourself in nature while you go about your business. In particular, there’s a pond next to the second hole, and I see a sandhill crane there all the time. It’s magical.