The following guest post was written by Sadiqa, about her internship experience with us this summer.
It was at this year’s Intern Symposium, Joseph Barnes announced Wayne Conrad, Austin Division Manager, won the bid to work with Kalahari Resorts & Spa. Being a native of Houston, I knew nothing about this safari-themed indoor waterpark and resort located outside of Austin in the city of Round Rock. Soon after, I congratulated Wayne who responded with a mischievous grin, “you haven’t seen it have you?” I shook my head and sensed that he had plans for Jade, the other Austin Intern, and me to be on the property.
Weeks later the moment arrived, and I became acquainted with the beauty and majesty of the Kalahari. Boasting 1.5 million square feet of space, this resort houses a convention center, four restaurants, an indoor waterpark, a theme park, and about 1000 guestrooms & suites. It stands in contrast against Round Rock’s Texan feel with African-inspired prints on walls as well as many “Lion King” like statues throughout the property. On this day our job was to work with the chemical crew. Spearheaded by Raunell, we began the process of applying mulch colorant to the beds surrounding the main pool. That process involves consistently diluting the colorant to an appropriate level of richness and spraying evenly with the spray backpacks. I was not excited, and I was mentally preparing for this task to be a long one. My previous, not so pleasant first experience with a backpack sprayer was with the maintenance crew where I walked eight miles spraying weeds on a very hot summer day.
Pump, pump, pump, spray…spray…. for the next three days. My left triceps began to ache from pumping the colorant into the spray tube and nozzle. My right wrist was tight from holding firmly onto the button that releases the colorant. My back and shoulders were worn down from the total weight of the sprayer filled to capacity. But despite all these challenges, I really enjoyed myself! The gratification that comes from seeing your work progress to completion is extremely pleasing. Seeing the contrast from grey mulch to deep brown mulch filled me with pride and motivated me to keep going. When I’m motivated, I’m excited and focused and my attitude continued to brighten. Guests and Kalahari employees alike would approach us and ask us what we were doing. Those interactions added to the experience because it was nice to speak with people who were observing our work and were genuinely interested in the result.
Towards the end of this project, my work clothes were covered in colorant, my body ached for days (thank goodness for weekends and Epsom salt!), and the feeling of completion filled me with joy. On our third day we finished a bit earlier than anticipated and so Raunell taught us how to operate the Z Sprayer. I caught on faster than I expected and had a lot of fun driving it around. By the day’s end, I developed a richer and more profound respect for everyone involved in making the Kalahari as wonderful as it is. Embracing a great attitude, teamwork, and work ethic, I’m proud to be a part of Yellowstone Landscape.