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Clayton State groundskeeper displays his labor of love

By Kandis Webb

It's almost 90 degrees outside and Alan Beasley is like a kid at play as he takes care of the landscape at Clayton State University.

Beasley is the manager of groundskeeping at the university and has had an interest in landscaping since his early twenties. He spent two years in a junior college only to find that he felt college was taking him nowhere. At the age of 30, after a few years of hiatus, Beasley went back to school and earned a degree from Auburn University in landscaping. He's worked for a company named Gradco in Birmingham, LaGrange Landscape, Callaway Gardens, and he's owned his own business.

At the age of 50 (though he doesn't look a day older than 40) Beasley says that he is working his dream job. He is responsible for more than 160 acres of land that contain Bermuda and fescue grass, oak, pine, magnolia, cherry, and dogwood trees. His favorite grass is undisputedly Bermuda grass because "it doesn't grow as tall and I don't have to mow it as often." He says that the Bermuda grass is tough and has tolerated the occasional parking of vehicles by students.

It is, however, difficult for him to determine which plant, flower, or tree is his favorite. He laughingly says, "Asking me which is my favorite is like asking me which child is my favorite and I've got too many." He clarifies that he likes to care for nature's independent and fuss-free plants, trees and flowers. He likes the kind that you can leave alone for a while and they'll manage to survive. He's not too fond of the "fussy" rose because it requires too much attention.

Beasly says anyone interested in landscaping should find something you like, ride around and steal ideas, and ask other gardeners for tips. He proudly states that there are no secrets in the gardening and landscaping world. Most would be more than happy to share ideas and advice. He advises people to be patient because landscaping is "a work in progress" and never ends. Jokingly, though, he says that the whole idea of a green thumb may hold some truth. He feels that everyone can learn the science of how and where to plant, but the green thumb may hold the secret to creativity.

For those of us who have tried to develop your gardening skills and have failed, don't be too discouraged. Beasly was once in charge of a greenhouse and killed an entire season of poinsettias by spraying them with the wrong pesticide.

Originally from Alabama, Beasly now lives in LaGrange with his wife and two of his four children. It may not have been a part of his vows, but his wife doesn't touch the yard.

With a great chuckle he says, "I love my wife, but she doesn't like working for me. My wife takes care of what's inside the house and I take care of what's outside."

It doesn't look like Beasly passed down his interest in landscaping because one of his sons is going to school to study forestry, his other son is studying wildlife management, one of his daughters wants to study property management, and his other daughter wants to work in the cosmetology field. He feels that his daughter who aspires to be a cosmetologist may have been deterred from the landscaping business because she sees how hard he works.

He's a cordial man and takes pride in what he does. He has developed a special attachment to the campus where he works. A man who seems like he wouldn't harm a fly is perturbed by those who can't seem to find trash receptacles.

"People throwing trash outside is my pet peeve because it is so easy to throw it away."

He doesn't like litter because it "takes away from the beauty of the campus." Litter is more or less a slap in the face, and he works hard to ensure an aesthetically beautiful environment.

He enjoys the handwork, though. Despite his patience in answering questions he grows antsy as he watches the rest of his crew work.

"I've got a great crew, and we work well together."

He's not the type who just orders his team around and sits back. He gets dirty and sweaty right along with them.

Working hard at his dream job, he and his crew drink plenty of water and Gatorade to combat the summer heat. His day starts at 6:30 a.m. and ends around 3:30 p.m. Believe it or not, Beasly says that the only downside to his job is being at the mercy of the weather. He works through rain, sleet, snow, cold, and heat. He has no complaints of a job that requires him to work 10 or more hours per day in a variety of different weather. "I get personal satisfaction from it. I just enjoy making the place look nice."

If you have ideas for people who would make good profiles for our weekly Everyday Person story, e-mail your idea to bpaslay@news-daily.com .