A short Documentary style story featuring the outdoor grounds crew at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. These ‘Freaks of Nature’ work tirelessly to ensure the top-notch appearance and horticultural significance of the property. The skill and qualifications of these workers often goes unnoticed and is undervalued as the company functions as a whole. This project aims to describe and appreciate the incredible knowledge and dedication of the individuals that make the country’s #1 botanical garden function.
Ricky Garza is the Arboretum’s Greenhouse Manager. His job includes breeding, propagating and archiving all of the annual plants and new installation plants on the entire 2,800 acre property. Garza has worked his position for 22 years and is seen in this photo carefully working with a tray of seedlings.
Gaza’s favorite plants are Orchids and he keeps a dazzling array of tropical and exotic orchids in several of the Arboretum’s conservatories. He is considered a world-class expert in both Orchids and Bromeliads and his experience is crucial to the top-notch reputation of the Minnesota Landscape Areboretum.
Arboretum Natural Resource Manager Richard deVries strings up maple syrup tubing in the forests that occupy the back of the Arboretum’s grounds. In charge of maintaining, protecting, and harvesting from the vast majority of the expansive property, deVries operates with a small crew of 3 staffed workers and an inconsistent crew of few volunteers.
deVriers and his crew keep the grounds clear of invasive species, work to make syrup and sugars from varieties of woody trees, and encourage the growth of healthy native woodland plants. Additionally some tree cutting and forestry work fills the time of this effort. When he is not overwhelmingly busy, deVries also works as a forestry ranger on the West Coast fighting wildfires and preserving natural lands.
Garza manages his propagation, storage and breeding efforts out of two green houses, both of which are out of date and in a state of disrepair. Often tracking over 50,000 plants per season, the facilities lack both space and sufficient technological integration to comfortably tackle such a daunting task.
Richard deVries walks his crew of Annie Zimmer-Kemp, Kevin McGucken and Martin Callus, his assistant and two dedicated volunteers respectively through the day’s task of spreading maple syrup tubing.
The tubing stretches across miles of woodland surrounding the Arboretum’s main gardens and is managed by routinely by small teams like this one. The Arboretum produces around 250 gallons of maple syrup and varying sugar-based extracts every year and that produce falls on the backs of hard-working nature lovers like these.
Cattails are often considered ornamental and distinctly mid-western to the common gardener. But for Richard deVries, certain species of Cattail are aggressively invasive and require laborious work to remove.
Growing in wetland and bog biomes, Cattails can crowd out health wetland plants and disrupt the natural ecosystems existing in those areas.
Storing an arsenal of plants is one feat, but caring for and keeping them alive a completely different one. While many people struggle to keep their house plants and succulents alive, Ricky Garza cares for an army of diverse plants safely and without losing company resources. His immense knowledge of plants of all kinds is critical to knowing the intricacies of supporting growth of unique varieties of plants.
A long form documentary story covering fraternity brothers Alex Nilles and Joseph ‘Seph’ Mullen as they try to find a unique coping method for the pressures of college life with a shared hobby: Fly Fishing. So often the response to stress and challenges in college is to turn to social outlets and unhealthy practices of drinking and other substance use, these two think there might be a better way.
Alex and Brian Nilles fish opposite sides of the stream in White Water State Park as they have done as father and son for 18 years. Fly fishing is an old family tradition for the Nilles family and as such serves as a great source of stress relief for Alex and his heavy school load.
Alex Nilles is a proud brother of Phi Gamma Delta Fraternity at the University of Minnesota and engages in all the social fun that comes with it! Even with an immense amount of course work and extracurricular obligations Nilles makes sure to break for Spring Jam at the end of the Spring semester. He is pictured here with his friend Abigail Freeman playing a game of beer darts.
Nilles casts his fly line into the stream on a brisk morning in White Water State Park. The water is a perfect balance of semi-quick-moving water and cool temperatures that attracts the river trout he and his companions are hoping to snag.
Nilles’ fly fishing rod rests on the back of his father’s truck while the gang gets ready to head out for a day of angling.
Fly fishing rods are different from traditional equipment in many ways. While some have the same reel mechanism as standard rods, others have a unique wheel that allows them to give and take line once cast and the rods are rated by weight for specific kinds of trout. The technique related to using them differs as well and involves a wrist and arm jerking movement that fights the current of the river to keep lures and bait positioned appropriately for fish.
Brian Nilles takes a break from casting to drag on a cigarillo in the pleasant spring sun.
“I’m only a smoker on two occasions: the Fourth of July and Fly Fishing Opener” Nilles said commenting on special nature of the outing he shares with his son every year.
Joseph “Seph” Mullen smiles as he casts a line out into the river. Wearing his signature Penn State hat he enjoys a lifelong past-time with his friend and fraternity brother.
Seph has also been fly fishing since he was a kid often journeying out to the western national parks with his family for week long excursions of trout catching an angling.
Alex Nilles holds up a beautiful Red River Trout. A fish of this size can be kept and cleaned for delicious eating. Both Nilles and his father are adept fisherman that often bring home and clean large hauls of fish to make a feast out of.
Seph breaks from the group to enjoy some open water fishing. Waders allow fly fisherman to wade into the waters they fish and positions themselves advantageously.
Like Nilles, Seph uses fly fishing as a form of stress relief amidst the chaos of college life. Being outdoors in the open space is a perfect way to escape pressures of academic and social life in a healthy way.
Water gurgles and bubbles peacefully as the river flows through the gorgeous land of White Water State Park.
The cool and calm morning is the ideal condition for the fly fishing opener in Minnesota and Alex Nilles and his Father, accompanied by Alex’s fraternity brother Joseph Mullen intend on making the most of the occasion.
This segment covers a collection of highlight images from my work with the University of Minnesota’s student run newspaper, The Minnesota Daily. All stories are shot in short daily reporting style and cover a diverse range of subjects.
Youth martial artists practice mixed martial arts under instructor Ken Dawnish at the Recreation and Wellness Center on the University of Minnesota Minneapolis Campus.
Junior Makenna Partain smiles as she connects with a pitch for a base hit in the second game of the double-header against Missouri University. The Gophers won both games of the meeting by run rule in a dominating performance.
Ben Brinkman carries the puck up the ice in a scoring effort in the second of three games of Da Beauty League in Edina at Braemar Arena. Brinkman was joined by many professional players from around the country who played for varied sponsored teams promoting charitable and commercial efforts.
Dr. Mark Rosenberg poses for a portrait in his office. Rosenberg is conducting important research on chronic kidney disease at the University of Minnesota.
Randal Carver plays with his band in the newly built Peavey Park near Orchestra Hall in downtown Minneapolis.