When Josiah Ball was a kid, he’d go “noodling” in nearby rivers, sticking his hands in hollow logs and underwater holes to catch catfish with his bare hands.
He might nab a snapping turtle from the river bottom for dinner. His family hunted for meat in the winter and tended big gardens in the summer, canning the bounty.
He grew up in Illinois loving the land, building tree houses and hunting for cool rocks.
Josiah still loves the land, these days nurturing it with water as Native Land Design’s irrigation manager.
The Rock Hound
After earning a bachelor's degree in geology from Illinois State University, Josiah worked for eight years as an environmental geologist, traveling around the country doing pollution cleanup and contamination work.
“I’ve always been an outdoors guy, a rock hound,” he says. “I always loved studying history, and geology is the oldest history there is.”
His college studies included hydrology — how water flows through soil. He learned about the differences between clay, sand and loam and the water retaining qualities of each type of soil.
“Geology is all outdoor stuff and so is landscaping,” he says.
Schedule? What Schedule?
Josiah’s first taste of landscaping came mowing lawns at age 12. He dabbled in the field through college and eventually started his own small landscaping company with a truck and a couple of guys.
So when he landed at Native, he felt right at home. He started as a crew leader, moved to irrigation technician, then irrigation manager.
It’s a good fit.
“I just couldn’t see myself at a desk in an office working on a computer all day,” he says. “This job is a good mix of working outside and working inside.”
His day starts at 6:30 a.m. as he makes the schedule for the day. Sometimes he has to toss the schedule. Stuff happens.
Emergencies pop up. There are property inspections, technician reports to read and send on to clients for repair approvals, job tickets to put on the schedule, materials to buy, new systems to design.
Relationships to build.
“There’s a good mix of people I work with,” he says, “from clients to HOA boards to technicians to the maintenance staff.
“I like helping people out, seeing that they’re satisfied.”
“He Gets His Hands Dirty”
“Josiah is a great guy to have on the team,” says Robbie Huang, Native Land operations manager and Josiah’s supervisor. “If we have a problem, he’ll do whatever it takes to solve it. He checks everything off his list.
“He just started in this position a year ago, and I’d put him up against any seasoned irrigation person in the business.”
When one of his techs has a question, instead of telling them what to do, “he’ll get his hands dirty and show them the process,” Huang says. “Not all supervisors do that.”
Plus, he’s just plain nice, Huang says.
“He stands up for what he believes in, from business practices to how people treat each other,” he says. “He’s the kind of guy you want to have a beer with after work.”
The Wonder Of Water
Josiah is essential to the Native Land operation, Huang says.
“We rely 100 percent on irrigation from March through October to keep everything alive,” Huang says. “If an irrigation system breaks down, within a few days things start to dry up. It’s a time-crucial job.”
Josiah is constantly educating himself about water conservation, Huang says, “from changing a nozzle to designing an entire system.”
“Not wasting water is a big passion of mine,” Josiah says.
“Irrigation is much more of a science than it used to be. We’ve done quite a few conversions to smart controllers, both for the ease of use — people can control it with their phone, and we can control them remotely — but for the better efficiency, too.”
Ruthie, Moses — And More Rocks
Josiah and his wife, Ruthie, have a 6-year-old boxer and Jack Russell terrier mix named Moses.
They love taking weekend trips to explore the little towns around Texas, hiking, fishing and checking out the small town festivals. Celebrating crawfish? Blue bonnets? Count them in. If there’s a cave to explore, even better.
“It gets me back in touch with rocks,” he says.
Ruthie is from the Dominican Republic and the couple lived there for six months and were married there. Josiah taught English there for a while at an agricultural college.
He used to compete in rock climbing competitions,
scrambling up 60-foot or 110-foot walls.
“The biggest thing is to use your legs,” he says. “A lot of people try to pull their whole weight up with their arms. You get tired real quick that way. You have to put some physics into it.
“I’m six-foot-three, so I have the stretch advantage,” he says.
“Do It With Your Whole Heart”
“I’ve had a lot of jobs over the years — some with more glory than others — but I always try to do my job 100 percent,” Josiah says. “Never think a job is above or beneath you. Do it with your whole heart. Don’t think you’re too good for anything.
“I never think of my work as a 9 to 5 job that’s just for the paycheck,” he says.
“I genuinely care about what I’m doing.”
Looking For A Career In Landscaping?
At Native Land Design, we believe in starting long-term careers where employees are respected and can grow.
If you want to learn more about our available positions, contact us at 512-918-2270 or fill out our contact form online today.