By Kenzie Messer
The sun beamed down on Northeast’s new plant services director Tom Ramler this past summer as he began planting his first garden of the season. As he tilled up the land across from his office on the NTCC campus, he looked around and noticed that there were only a few trees. He also saw that there was a lot of space to plant more. Intrigued, he rushed to his bike, rode it across the street to his office, and immediately, began researching what he needed to do in order to make the campus even greener.
After many years of Tim Johnston serving as the director of plant services, Northeast Texas Community College named Ramler as the new plant services director for the 2016 fall semester. Ramler has had many years of experience working in the maintenance and plant services department at four different schools. While employed in these different positions over the years, Ramler became inspired to do everything he could to make the environment around him a little greener.
“I would not call myself a greenie in the traditional, radical sense that everything that comes out of the pipeline is the right thing to do,” Ramler said. “I think it has to be balanced with common sense, good business, principles, but I absolutely think that we should leave things the way we found them. It’s not just the eco-friendly piece, but more of a life commitment that I hope that I would leave to my son and his family, a legacy of a better place than I found it.”
Ramler enjoys gardening and planting, so he is enthusiastic about the new landscaping being added to the NTCC campus. When the spring season comes around, Ramler said he plans to plant more flowers across the campus.
“The campus needs to be green and clean, and it needs to be attractive, so that you could be proud to be here, instead of it being second rate, because it’s not,” Ramler said. “You’re getting a first-rate education, so you need a first-rate facility. You can go with your head up and be proud to be here.”
When Ramler began working with the Agriculture Department, he began searching for grant opportunities and sending them NTCC Agriculture Director Rene McCracken. He informed them of a ten-thousand-dollar grant opportunity that the Ag Department was later awarded. He hopes to start a to start a neighborhood dairy with Ag where people from all over can come and learn how to safely raise, process, and sell milk
“Tom came to us with a passion for sustainable agriculture,” McCracken said. “We work together sharing equipment and labor and people, and it seems to be working really well. He helps me from a contractor side and a project manager side because I don’t have a head for that and he does. I come up with the ideas and he figures out if they’re going to work or not.”
Since much of the concrete that previously filled the campus plaza has been replaced with grass, a portion of the $19.9 million dollar bond that NTCC received for renovations will go toward upgrading the landscaping on campus. Members of the campus community are already taking note and enjoying the greener look of the grounds.
“The landscaping is definitely a lot prettier than what is was last year,” sophomore Stephanie Garcia said. “It adds more color to the campus and makes it seem more inviting. I’m really excited to see what it’s going to look like when it’s finished and throughout the different seasons. Especially in the spring when all the flowers are blooming, and the fall when all the leaves are changing.”
While Ramler maintains the duty of Plant Services director, he said he is also looking for opportunities to work with other departments on campus and influence them to become more eco-friendly. Along with working with the Ag department, Ramler is also working with the Carroll Shelby Program to get the old cars recycled.
“I think the biggest piece for me is that we really need to work together and look for opportunities where we could coordinate,” Ramler said. “I think that sometimes we get so focused on our little worlds that we forget the bigger picture, and we miss opportunities for networking with other departments on campus.”