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NALP recognized the Kuperus family, including Miles Jr. (from left), Miles and Richard Kuperus with the organization's "workhorse" award for the family's participation in Renewal and Remembrance for many years. Other family members volunteered for improvement work at Arlington National Cemetery. (Photo: LM Staff)

NALP recognized the Kuperus family, including Miles Jr. (from left), Miles and Richard Kuperus with the organization’s “workhorse” award for the family’s participation in Renewal and Remembrance for many years. Other family members volunteered at Arlington National Cemetery. (Photo: LM Staff)

A sea of yellow safety vests descended on the Lincoln Memorial on Monday, July 18. It’s probably the most neon seen on the memorial grounds — ever. A team of more than 300 volunteers from across the country were about to take part in an inspiring morning, beautifying the grounds of this historic place as part of the National Association of Landscape Professionals’ (NALP) annual Renewal and Remembrance event.

This year, the National Parks service sought the help of NALP volunteers to ready the Lincoln Memorial as part its 100th anniversary. Colleagues also worked on irrigation and hardscaping projects at Arlington National Cemetery, an annual tradition of Renewal and Remembrance.

Volunteers from John Deere before the start of work during NALP's Renewal and Remembrance. (Photo: LM Staff)

Volunteers from John Deere before the start of work during NALP’s Renewal and Remembrance. (Photo: LM Staff)

As I stepped off the bus in D.C., it was hard not to be awestruck by our worksite that morning with the reflection pool and Washington Monument to my right and the Lincoln Memorial to my left. I remembered what Bob Grover, president of Pacific Landscape Management and the NALP, and Britt Wood, NALP CEO, told volunteers at a reception the night before — to be sure to stop and take in the hallowed grounds of our project before the work began.

“Very few people get the chance to put their stamps on the Arlington National Cemetery and the Lincoln Memorial,” Grover said.

Volunteers mulched the areas surrounding magnolias, hews, boxwoods and holly plantings around the grounds of the Lincoln Memorial as part of NALP's Renewal and Remembrance. (Photo: LM Staff)

Volunteers mulched the areas surrounding magnolias, hews, boxwoods and holly plantings around the grounds of the Lincoln Memorial as part of NALP’s Renewal and Remembrance. (Photo: LM Staff)

After the dedication of work, we were off, spreading 320 yards of mulch in under three hours in five groups spanning the landmark, way ahead of schedule.

That’s what happens when professionals work on a project as meaningful as the projects at Renewal and Remembrance are – they put their whole heart into it. It’s also easy to see why the National Parks Service selected NALP as its 2021 partner of the year.

Joe Ketterer, Ruppert Landscapes's director of quality and efficiency (center right), briefs Team 3 on the plan to tackle the bed edging and mulching during Five teams divvied up the grounds surrounding the Lincoln Memorial Volunteers from Ruppert Landscape made quick work of the bed edging and mulching during NALP's Renewal and Remembrance. (Photo: LM Staff)

Joe Ketterer, Ruppert Landscapes’s director of quality and efficiency (center right), briefs Team 3 on the plan to tackle the bed edging and mulching during NALP’s Renewal and Remembrance. (Photo: LM Staff)

I joined a crew of workers from around the country, primarily from Ruppert Landscape. It was clear from the get-go that this task was no different from any enhancement project Ruppert does, and we were going to do it the Ruppert way — as efficiently and organized as possible. Joe Ketterer, Ruppert’s director of quality and efficiency, quickly identified debris and fallen limbs under the large magnolias, hollies, hews and boxwoods. He suggested a team of volunteers should clear the area first so as to not use more mulch than needed. Crews with bed edgers quickly established landscape bed boundaries for the first time. Then, it was time for the mulch. We could go up to 6 inches deep, we were told.

Vermeer articulated mini-loaders, Bobcat UTVs and John Deere Gators all rolled around the grounds after being approved for use following a security check. This is, after all, an unusual worksite.

The most critical resource on a hot July day in D.C. was water. Crew leaders ensured volunteers stayed hydrated and worked hard but avoided any heat-related issues.

Five teams divvied up the grounds surrounding the Lincoln Memorial Volunteers from Ruppert Landscape made quick work of the bed edging and mulching during NALP's Renewal and Remembrance (Photo: LM Staff)

Five teams divvied up the grounds surrounding the Lincoln Memorial during NALP’s Renewal and Remembrance. (Photo: LM Staff)

NALP board members who visited our worksite after a stop at the projects in Arlington said you could see the sea of yellow vests for miles and miles across the Arlington Memorial Bridge.

After this experience, I will never look at the grounds the same. While I’ve been to the Lincoln Memorial before, I have a newfound respect for the work of the U.S. Parks service and just how critical my time, however limited, was to the overall upkeep of the grounds.

“In one day, you help us double our workforce,” Jeffrey Reinbold, superintendent of National Mall and Memorial Parks, told volunteers. “Projects like these make a big difference.”

Christina Herrick

About the Author:

Christina Herrick is the editor of Landscape Management magazine. Known for her immersive approach to travel from coast to coast in her previous stint as senior editor of American Fruit Grower Magazine, she uses social media (Twitter/Instagram @EditorHerrick) to share her experiences on the road with her audience. Herrick has a degree in journalism from Ohio Northern University and has been in B2B publishing for seven years. She can be reached at cherrick@northcoastmedia.net.

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