Co-workers and visitors to campus can’t say enough good things about the work Courtney Birkholtz ’16 does at South Dakota State University.
If you have driven or walked by one of the flower beds and been impressed with the colors or variety of flowers, you’ve seen an example of Birkholtz’s work.
As a result, Birkholtz has been selected as the South Dakota State University Civil Service Employee of the Month for May in recognition for her efforts as part of the Facilities and Services staff.
After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in horticulture and a minor in agronomy, Birkholtz worked at Lowe’s as a live nursery specialist before coming to State. She joined the grounds services group in 2018 and immediately dove into taking on high levels of leadership and responsibility.
“She jumped right into overseeing everything that was needed to run our greenhouse,” said Amy Jones, director of campus maintenance services. “She quickly became a default leader for summer planting crews consisting of students and employees and took on default group leader when her supervisor and leader worker are both out.”
Jones noted Birkholtz is the horticulturist designer behind most of the annual flower beds on campus and gets credit for helping recruit other current employees to work at SDSU. She is always willing to design and manage planting projects on campus as well as offering to teach groups of volunteers and students and lead them on groundskeeping projects.
On top of her relentless dedication to her job and the campus, Birkholtz also has a constantly pleasant and upbeat attitude every day at work.
“In the dictionary, her name is listed under the definitions of ‘go-getter,’ ‘motivated,’ ‘can-do,’ ‘initiative,’ ‘skilled’ and ‘positive,’” said Jones. “She has a sense of humor, always seems to be smiling and positive and willing to help anywhere. Rarely is she ever standing in one place for very long. Her energy is enviable.”
Birkholtz’s great attitude and work ethic has consistently been recognized by co-workers every day she is at work and credit her with making work enjoyable.
“Courtney is never one to complain about any task given to her; she always states that ‘there is nothing we can’t tackle,’” said Ryan Hoffman, grounds services supervisor. “She comes to work every morning with a great ‘can do’ attitude that carries over to anyone she is working with that day. Courtney will volunteer to do some of the more unpleasant or monotonous tasks that we have around campus, such as pulling weeds in the beds in her area. When she encounters weeds anywhere through campus, she will take the initiative to tackle those as well.
“Courtney is not an employee who just comes to work every morning; she really wants to make a difference for the university and create a better work environment for everyone around her,” Hoffman said. “Anyone who has had an interaction with her around campus will instantly realize what an asset she is to our organization and understand her dedication to SDSU and its success.”
Flowers have been part of Birkholtz's life since enrolling at State. She worked at McCrory Gardens as a student.
“I enjoy growing the annuals that get placed in the beds around campus. It is very satisfying starting seeds in the greenhouse and watching them grow through the summer,” said Birkholtz. “I take pride in my work and want to make campus beautiful for others to enjoy. I am always looking for landscape areas on campus that could be improved.”
A former member of the SDSU Rodeo team, Birkholtz competed in barrel racing, breakaway roping and team roping. She still competes in rodeos when convenient.
All SDSU Employee of the Month selections are determined through a nomination process by the Civil Service Advisory Council. Each civil service employee of the month receives an appreciation monetary gift from the F.O. Butler Foundation. The trustees of the foundation recognize the importance of civil service employees and take this opportunity to thank them for their exemplary service.