Ted Kitada: Original Landscaper at Sierra College Turned Agricultural Land into a Beautiful Campus

July 1, 2016
Ted Kitada and Gerald Angove standing by the flag pole on the Rocklin campus
Ted Kitada and Gerald Angove standing by the flag pole – COURTESY OF TED KITADA

Anyone who has visited the Sierra College campus has most likely walked past the flag pole beside the A building without thinking of how it came to be. Ted Kitada, the original landscaper for the Sierra College campus in Rocklin remembers the story of this small but memorable dedication. 

With the original campus being mainly agricultural landscape, Ted would have to create a safe walking environment for students, including the rainwater drainage.

When I started, there was no support or concrete around the catch basin or the ditches. I had to clear those drains or you would have large puddles of water the students would have to walk through. I had to figure the welfare of the students.

Ted Kitada
Retired head gardener

With that in mind he went on a search for solutions including rocks from the American River. But there was more rock needed than what was available. With Sierra College Boulevard just opening up, Ted saw some beautiful rock on the properties there. Ted approached Harold Weaver to brainstorm a solution. Harold suggested speaking with Ms. Wilma Cavet who owned a piece of land there. Ted approached Ms. Cavet who discussed the acquisition of the rocks.

Ted vividly remembers the conversation “She had it fenced off up there. Her son had cattle there. I said ‘I’ll clear the land, you’ll get grass growing where the rock is sticking too. It would make a better pasture.’ She said ‘You can have all the rocks you want providing one thing. Don’t touch the volcanic rock staked out there.”

With the aid of some students he picked up a dump truck and a flat full of rock and stockpiled it on the backside of the campus. He continued to landscape for her a couple of Saturdays.

Twenty years later Ms. Cavet called Ted Kitada to let him know she was selling her property and finally agreed to donate the volcanic rock to the school. He happily took as much rock as he could haul and stored it behind the dormitory. 

When he built the flag pole, he dedicated it to Ms. Cavet as a special thanks for her generous donations to the school. True to who Ted Kitada was, even the memorial had special consideration in the design. “If you notice, this is like a pie cut behind it. I made it so you could raise and lower the flag without having to bend over. If you take a look, it’s like a V back there.”

Ted Kitada’s heart and passion for landscaping is the foundation for the beautiful Sierra College campus we have today.