Monday, May 9, 2011


The following is an internship report by Zach Smith, who worked at the Council Bluffs Recreation Complex.

Nick Christians May 9, 2011.


The Council Bluffs Recreation Complex was constructed in 2002 in order to host youth and adult leagues, tournaments, and other events. The CBRC covers eighty-four acres and is one of the finest outdoor recreation facilities in the Midwest. CBRC hosts many Council Bluffs and Omaha leagues as well as local, district, state, regional, and national tournaments. On the baseball/softball side, the complex includes four softball fields, four baseball fields, and two youth/fast pitch fields. On the soccer/football side, the complex includes ten full-size soccer fields with an additional four combination football/soccer fields which are a recent addition to the complex. All of the athletic fields were on native soil. Also included on the complex are two full-service concession areas, two conference rooms, one large playground, and a paved asphalt bike trail running along the north side of the complex.


Rick House was the head supervisor at the CBRC as well as the city forester. As the head supervisor, Rick was in charge of the following: planning and assigning work tasks, supervising mowing, trimming, edging, watering, seeding, aeration, and fertilization of turf and athletic fields; supervising the growing of plant materials such as trees and flowers on the complex; oversees the application of fungicides, insecticides, and herbicides; supervises the installation, maintenance, and repair of irrigation systems; supervises the care and set-up of athletic fields and common areas on the complex; arranges the purchase and repair of equipment; supervises the inspection and record keeping of the facility; performs general maintenance duties as needed; maintains and handles maintenance contracts and billings; prepares and maintains records such as fuel consumption, accident reports, and time records; maintains records of equipment and facilities inventory; maintains all maintenance records; and advises and makes recommendations to the Assistant Director of Parks, Recreation and Public Property regarding improvements and modifications of operations at the complex.

Rick had two full-time assistants working under him, Steve Hudspeth and Scott Moon. As the assistants, these two were each responsible for the following: supervising the work of a small crew engaged in particular work assignments; operating turf equipment such as tractors, riding mowers, trucks, snow removal equipment, and sprayers; planting, pruning, and caring for trees, shrubs, and flowers; performing fertilizer application, field cultivation, overseeding, and topdressing practices; making repairs and adjustments of playground equipment; performing difficult repairs to grounds, irrigation system, equipment, buildings, and other structures contained on the complex; and performing other general groundskeeping tasks as needed.

Working under the assistants were two crews of temporary seasonal employees, both of which I was a part of. I was the only intern out of the eleven temporary seasonal employees that made up both crews. One crew functioned as the day crew and the other functioned as the night crew. There was only a night crew during the busy part of the season which was from about the beginning of June until about the middle of July. Since Rosenblatt Stadium, home of the men’s NCAA college world series, sits right across the mighty Missouri river from CBRC, the complex hosts many tournaments around the time of the college world series. The work hours of the day crew were generally from 7am to 3pm, and the work hours of the night crew were generally from 10 pm to around 1am or 2am. The day crew usually consisted of six guys and one girl, and the night crew usually consisted of five or six guys.

The primary duties of the day crew consisted of the following: general grounds maintenance such as mowing, trimming, edging, aerating, and topdressing; painting, cleaning, and picking up trash; pulling weeds, mulching, pruning trees and shrubs, and planting trees, shrubs, and flowers; and performing athletic field preparation such as working, tarping, and removing tarps from mounds, setting bases, dragging, chalking, setting goals, and stringing and painting field lines.

The primary duties of the night crew consisted of the following: performing athletic field preparation such as working and tarping the mounds, setting bases, planing the infield skin, chalking, and stringing and painting field lines; picking up trash and cleaning, blowing, and sweeping out dugouts; and mowing and trimming athletic fields.

Work Duties

With this summer being so wet, it brought about some interesting work duties. I did perform all of the general groundskeeping and maintenance practices that I expected such as mowing, aerating, topdressing, overseeding, and irrigation repair, but I also performed some tasks that I had not done before or expected to do. With all of the rain during the summer, we had some pretty saturated fields. Of course this was the biggest problem on the two nicest baseball fields. Pretty frequently this summer a small area of the grass infield on 7 was under water and a large area of the grass infield on 8 was under water which is something that Rick said he had not seen happen before. We had to give some refunds back to the tournament directors because the fields were too wet but whenever possible we tried to make the fields playable. We used the usual techniques of pushing water off the infield skins and raking in Diamond Dry when we could, but a lot of times the moisture this summer brought about called for more extensive efforts. I found myself setting submersible pumps up on the infields and pumping the water off. I would pump as much water off as I could with just setting the pump on the surface and then I would dig a small hole for all of the remaining surface water to run into. I would then set the pump down in the hole and pump as much water off the field as I could. Another technique that we had to perform to move water off fields was digging trenches. On some of the infield skins we would dig trenches to get the standing water in some areas to run off of the field. These were just some different strategies for trying to get fields dry that I was able to experience. By the end of the season the infield on field 8 was in very bad shape from the amount of rain and the amount of traffic that it had received. They were getting it ready to lay new sod right before I left for the season.


This internship was a great experience. I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to be involved in a large variety of turf management practices that I believe will contribute to my knowledge and skill set in the field of turf management. Although at the time, working through the wet conditions may not have seemed like a lot of fun, I believe that it was good to be able to experience those conditions and see what kind of efforts can be put in to try to overcome wet field conditions. This internship really showed me that there is a lot more to managing a complex like this than just growing grass. A lot of effort has to be put into building maintenance, painting, cleaning, plumbing, landscaping, and mechanic work among other things. I’m glad that I was able to experience all of these things and gain a better understanding of how to manage your time in order to carry out the broad spectrum of work tasks that are required for the upkeep of this kind of facility. I would highly recommend this internship to anybody interested in gaining experience in turf management in the parks and recreation setting.


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