Robyn Hartley, recognized as the woman in the golf cart who works outside all day, seen working dutifully as students take the short walk to their next class… But this is just one aspect of Hartley. She is also an educator, Zumba enthusiast, runner, mom, chef, singer, and crochet professional.
Hartley has been a horticulturist at Collegiate for the past five years, meaning that she works with everything that is green and outside on our campus. This includes anything from designing the pots that are seen around campus to picking up the occasional dead animal. Through snow and ice and the summer heat, she works tirelessly to make the Collegiate campus beautiful. What pushes her through this process is “the satisfaction of the beauty of planting something and watching it grow into something beautiful.” While she primarily spends her time working on the visual aspect of our campus, she also attempts to educate younger students about nature and the plants she works with.
Before Christmas break, Hartley went to the Lower School and taught the students facts about evergreens and deciduous trees. During this visit, she also interacted with the kids by making evergreen arrangements for their parents for the holidays. “Kids fuel the purpose,” says Hartley. She finds enjoyment including children in her job, where she can educate the next generation on what she loves to do in her life. While she is in the gardens, younger students come up to her in awe, asking about different insects and plants, and she takes the time to explain and interact with these students while doing her job. Hartley has loved the outdoors ever since she was little, and she is grateful to spend her career in nature. She describes her job as, “Not like a job, it is fun and what I love to do.” The freedom and trust her bosses give her allows her to be more confident, and she said, “I’m given the tools and run off.” Over her career Hartley has collected the keys to success: “Crystal light lemonade, a straw hat, and sunblock.” Having this career has given Hartley the independence and satisfaction that she always sought in a job.
Hartley received her degree in horticulture from Virginia Tech, and after her time there she worked part time at Home Depot. Searching for a full time job, Hartley was looking in the newspaper and could not believe her eyes when she saw an open horticulturist job at Collegiate. Although she had never heard of or seen Collegiate, (despite living only a few miles away) she applied for the job. During this process, she soon realized that her new boss’s twin sister was her former boss when she was working during college. That wasn’t the only thing they had in common, as they both grew up on the Eastern Shore of Virginia and both went to college at Virginia Tech. While at Collegiate, Hartley has spent most of her time working on the decorative pots that are found around the campus. This has been her specialty and has grown the potting program at Collegiate for the better. From the time she started, Hartley knew that Collegiate would be a great fit for her.
When Hartley is not working at Collegiate, she likes to continue her love of nature. She runs every morning before she goes to work and enjoys Zumba classes whenever the chance presents itself. She also enjoys singing and cooking, but her family is the most important aspect of her life. Among her favorite activities is the good old family camping trip. Camping allows her to be outside while being with the people she loves. Every night her family watches Jeopardy! together. The questions are challenging, but if her kids get an answer right they receive a quarter. Along with attending her kids’ softball game and swim meets, on the sidelines Hartley works on her pleasure of crocheting. You can find pieces that she has made on an abundance of people seen around the campus. Her two kids now go to Collegiate, and she says that it is, “the cherry on top,” to her job allowing her to be with her children and giving them an excellent education.
Hartley does not complain about the weather or getting dirty during her job because to her, the dirt on her knees and hands, as well as the smiles she puts on kids’ faces, are the true indicators that she has found the perfect place to do what she loves.