“I love everything about the job. Being outside, the plants, the physical labor, making everything look nice,” said Paula Sharpe, Grand Teton Lodge Company (GTLC) Grounds Crew member. Sharpe joined GTLC 11 year ago and has greatly contributed to the outdoor appearance of our lodges.
For the last six years, Sharpe has been charting noxious weed growth on propety. “I figured if I left we don’t have documentation, so I made maps of each area,” said Sharpe, a licensed herbicide technician. Every year she documents the weed she is targeting and whether it has increased or decreased. “Someone can come along after me and know where to find these weeds.”
As for Sharpe, this information is all in her head. She has the ability to go over to Colter Bay Village and show you exactly where one weed grows. “I figured no one else would be able to do that, so you can just open map books and say, ‘oh yah, Dalmatian Toadflax grows here, better check that out.’” Comparing the charts from over the years, Sharpe has noticed a difference, with noxious weeds on the decline. The Grounds Crew also documents every ounce of chemical-use, as it all must be approved by the Park Service.
Arriving at 7:30am, Sharpe plants and maintains 68 containers of flowers. She waters and feeds the plants, which also happen to be a favorite meal of the Whistle Pig. “Right now I am cleaning up the West Terrace. Pruning everything back and getting it ready for the wedding next week, I want it to look really nice.”
Up keeping Jenny Lake Lodge, Jackson Lake Lodge, Colter Bay Village and Jackson Hole Golf & Tennis can be quite the endeavor. Still, the Grounds Crew continues to meet its goals. One goal has been to restore a man-made trail to its original habitat. “When we first started there were trails that went all the way to the bottom area at Jackson Lake Lodge. People had walked down there and killed all the vegetation, thinking it was a trail,” said Sharpe. “Then it rained and everything washed away, so the trail was deep.” The crew filled in this area leading down to Willow Flats and closed all the trails, reverting guests to the designated paved paths. With time all the vegetation has grown back.
Sharpe makes an apparent difference at GTLC. Gardening is something that yields rewarding results. “Every year I gather the seeds from the native wildflowers and throw them out there and if you come back later you will see a lot of these wildflowers are growing,” declared Sharpe. “It’s just exciting, to know that I had a hand in that.”
Exuding a genuine enthusiasm for her work, Sharpe stated, “I do this because I enjoy it. People come by and say don’t work too hard. I’m not working, I’m playing.”