Grounds Control

Faculty and staff get a taste of what it takes to keep Eastern beautiful.


Keeping the Cheney campus beautiful requires a year-round effort, and every season has its challenges. Say what you will about fall leaves, winter snows and summer heat, it is undoubtedly spring — that wonderfully vibrant time of floral fecundity — that really keeps Eastern’s Grounds Maintenance team on their toes.

So what better way to celebrate the dedication and professionalism of the grounds crew than pitching in, if only for a morning, in an annual rite of spring clean-up?


Rylee Castagno-Lieseke, EWU gardener
Rylee Castagno-Lieseke, a grounds and nursery specialist at EWU, was among the grounds-maintenance pros providing guidance to faculty and staff volunteers during Eastern’s 2024 Spring Clean-up event.


This year’s Spring Clean-up event, held April 16, saw more than two dozen faculty and staff volunteers pulling weeds, spreading mulch and prettying up the planting beds surrounding the campus mall, the science complex, and EWU’s iconic rose garden. Mother nature was kind, providing an overcast but mild, dry day as the Eagle employees divided up into teams and donned their gardening gloves.

Sabine Rishell, an assistant director of donor engagement with EWU Advancement, was one of those assisting in the effort. “I’ve been pulling weeds, which is new for me. Someone had to point out which ones were weeds,” said Rishell, who grew up in an apparently weed-free area of Kansas. “There’s new bark everywhere. Something has been accomplished today.”

Chris Galow, another one of the clean-up crew, is both a maintenance mechanic with the university’s carpenter shop and the president of Washington Federation of State Employees’ Local 931. Galow says the event was mostly about collaborating to create a nice campus environment for students.

“All of us like to see a beautiful campus,” he says. “It reflects on how we take care of our buildings, as well as our classrooms, and then how we follow through with an environment that supports our students. It’s all connected.”

“I believe the grounds crew are appreciative of the work we are providing today,” Galow adds. “We’re just giving them extra hands to help maintain what is a constant area of work in terms of cleaning our grounds. It’s a never-ending battle. Anything that grows you are constantly maintaining.”