Anyone who has experienced the drive up College Hill Road on an autumn day understands why Hamilton prides itself on being one of the most picturesque campuses in the country. But what does it take to sustain that beauty? Terry Hawkridge knows.
During more than 30 years at Hamilton, Hawkridge, the College’s assistant director of grounds, horticulture and arboretum, has made the beautification of campus a top priority. After pursuing degrees in business and applied plant biology, he began working on the Hill in 1976, charged with the care of the Root Glen. He left campus for a few years in the late ’70s but was wooed back. Ever since, he has been working to improve Hamilton’s grounds, ensuring that the aesthetic appeal of the College is rooted in good horticulture practices and environmental sustainability.
Working with plants has long been a part of Hawkridge’s life. As a young boy in Boston, he was expected to complete yard work before he was allowed to play. Although he may not have envisioned working with plants as a career at the time, Hawkridge says, “The things that bother you when you were growing up may turn out to be your passion.”
Among his many jobs, he has spearheaded important environmental initiatives on campus, including restoring the natural tree canopy that was lost in the ’60s and ’70s, implementing recycling on campus in the late ’80s and launching Cram & Scram, the collection and resale of leftover dorm items.
“I stumbled into what is now called ‘green’ and ‘sustainable’ before it was called ‘green’ and ‘sustainable,’” Hawkridge says. But he credits the success of the movement to the energy of the student body and the willingness of the campus community to embrace change.