Stories from intrepid reporters attending the Illinois Press Foundation Journalism Workshop at Eastern Illinois University
By Melissa Svec and Emily Scott
The lush greenery of the Eastern Illinois University campus, for the most part, is the handiwork of one man.
For a quarter century, it’s been Larry Shobe’s job to keep the campus green and growing as EIU’s grounds gardener.
Shobe can often be seen with a smile on his face and shovel in his hand, hard at work keeping Eastern’s campus abundant with colorful plant life. Shobe’s passion for gardening is so strong that his day-to-day tasks are more of a hobby than a job.
Simply receiving the help of one student at the time, Shobe gladly stepped aside from the garden he was working on to talk and answer some questions about his experience and love for gardening.
When asked if he truly enjoyed working seven and a half hours a day as grounds gardener he replied, “oh yes,” with a bright smile and a nod.
Just as the trees he has nurtured continue to grow, Shobe added that the campus has had its changes as well. It’s grown significantly in both size and amount of plants during his career, as well as his workload, but his love for gardening has failed to fade.
The university itself also reflects Shobe’s love for the greenery. Past presidents have helped establish Eastern’s history of appreciation for gardening since the earlier 20th century. Shobe said both President Livingston Lord and President Robert Buzzard strongly showed their support. President Buzzard even had his favorite planted around campus – iris beds.