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Green Guru

Campus irrigation supervisor Paul Flinders recently was named as the third-place President’s Classified Employee of the Year. He traded in rainy England for the relentless sun of the American Southwest and now it's up to him to maintain UNLV's greenery.

People  |  Sep 20, 2013  |  By Diane Russell

Paul Flinders, irrigation supervisor and third-place President's Classified Employee of the Year. (R. Marsh Starks/UNLV Photo Services)

Paul Flinders

Landscape, Grounds & Arboretum
Irrigation Supervisor
Rebel Since: 2003

Born

I am from England — Sheffield in Yorkshire. I used to look after cricket wickets there. My wife is American.

Difference between here and home

It rains every day in England. Here I have to make it rain every day with irrigation.

Couldn’t do my job without

Water.

Typical day

I get in around 5:30 in the morning and check my emails. Then I drive around campus to see if I spot any problems such as water main breaks. Every day is different, which is nice. You don’t know what you’re going to run into day to day.

Thousands of sprinklers

The campus probably has 4,000 to 5,000 sprinkler heads. The intramural field alone has 200. As I drive around campus I flag any problems I see. Later one of the four guys who works for me will go out and fix them. When a sprinkler breaks at night, no one sees it. You have to have good eyes around here.

What people could do to make your job easier

Don’t drive on the grass and don’t kick the sprinkler heads. Many people who work here do help by calling the help desk (ext. 5-HELP) when they see things that are wetter than they should be. The extra eyes are handy.

Advice for new employees wanting to succeed at UNLV

Put your head down and work. That’s all you have to do. I come to work and do what I have to do. There’s no tomfoolery. I help anybody who needs help.

Working your way up

When I first came to Las Vegas I was working on a golf course. I decided maybe I should visit the university and see if there were any opportunities. I was told I was overqualified. I said, “I don’t care. Just give me a job and I’ll work myself up the ladder.” And that’s what I’ve done. I started as a groundskeeper.

Favorite spot on campus

I like the north-south mall. I enjoy riding up and down the malls and looking at the nice green grass.

Dream vacation

I’ve traveled a lot in my day. Now a dream vacation would be the Seychelles or somewhere like that — an island in the Indian Ocean.  Two weeks out there would be fine.

What The Person Nominating Him for the Award Had to Say

Robert Lynn, facility manager for landscape, grounds & arboretum and 2010 President’s Classified Employee of the Year, wrote: “I am nominating Paul Flinders due to his outstanding work ethics, positive attitude toward work, and the large amount of detail he puts into his everyday assignments. The care and appearance of the university grounds would not be as aesthetically pleasing as it is now without his continually overseeing of the campus irrigation system.

“We recently had vandalism to the Harry Reid Technology Park located off Sunset and Durango (which resulted in a loss of electricity to the automatic irrigation system). This was when daytime temperatures were running 117 and 95 degrees at night. With these extreme temperatures, one can lose landscape in a few days without water. Paul went to this site daily to turn on the 18 valves controlling the landscape. This was over Fourth of July weekend.”

Lynn also credits Flinders with playing an instrumental role in UNLV’s receiving the Water Hero Award from the Southern Nevada Water Authority for the university’s water-conserving turf conversion project.