The University of Idaho”s arboreta, the Shattuck Arboretum and the Arboretum and Botanical Garden, together constitute an area of 77 acres and contain hundreds of trees, bushes, shrubs and other plants. For the past 13 years, most of the day-to-day management of these sprawling grounds has been performed by one man – Paul Warnick. Warnick recently received a 2016 Staff Award.
Warnick spends much of his time traversing the grounds of the arboreta, rumbling along the gravel pathways in a 1990s Ford pickup truck clad in the distinctive white paint of official facilities vehicles, observing and tending his expansive domain. The flowering trees are in full bloom this time of year, which Warnick said makes working especially nice.
Warnick said he doesn”t think he did anything extraordinary to get the award – he just performed his regular duties just as he always has.
“I did my job, I guess,” Warnick said.
Warnick said he has a long history with the arboreta, having worked with the arboreta in some capacity for nearly 16 years. Warnick said he was first hired by the university as the arboretum horticulturalist in July of 2000. Warnick said in 2003, when the arboretum director retired and that position was eliminated, his position was then upgraded to horticulturalist and superintendent, a title he has held since.
Warnick said getting a Staff Award this year was largely an effort by the Arboretum Associates Board, the volunteer group that oversees fundraising for the arboreta.
“I”m honored to get it, and I appreciate the nominators that went to the effort to do it,” Warnick said.
Warnick said he is the only full-time arboretum employee, so everything that happens in the arboreta is either done or at least overseen by him if delegated to someone else.
Warnick said his primary focus remains being the Arboretum Horticulturalist, maintaining and caring for the arboreta and their extensive collection of plant life, but in addition he works on a broad spectrum of other arboretum-related duties. Warnick said these include working with classes, giving tours and labeling the arboretum”s collection to enhance the arboretum”s educational value.
Warnick said that although the old Shattuck Arboretum has been going through some highly-publicized troubles with a beetle infestation, which necessitated the removal of about 50 trees in April, the award was not given in response to the recent crisis. However, Warnick did say the project went smootly, and both he and the rest of the facilities department are happy with the results.
Warnick said that like any job, the job of managing the arboreta has its ups and downs, including occasional significant troubles like the beetle infestation, but he likes the job he”s been doing all these years and said the enjoyment far outweighs any difficulties.
“Most days, it”s the perfect job,” Warnick said.
Ryan Locke can be reached at email@example.com