Robert “Robbie” Eselby ’25 (CAHNR) has spent his summer doing one of his favorite things: working with plants.
Eselby is a sustainable plant and soil systems major specializing in environmental horticulture in the Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture.
One of Eselby’s jobs this summer is working in the UConn Floriculture Greenhouses in Storrs, a continuation of the work he does during the school year.
Eselby helps maintain the greenhouses over the summer to ensure they are in good condition for the start of the semester. He works on the upkeep of the physical greenhouse structures as well as the plants themselves.
Plant care involves repotting plants, removing pests, and anything else needed to keep them in good health.
“It’s really whatever is needed to make sure our plants are successful, and they’re ready for when the students come in the fall,” Eselby says.
Eselby also worked with Steve’s Tree Service, based in Winsted, CT, this summer. Eselby worked with the crew to remove, prune, and provide other care for trees throughout northwest Connecticut.
Eselby says he has been removing a lot of ash trees, in particular since they have been impacted by the invasive emerald ash borer.
Taking down sick or dead trees is important as they can fall, damaging their surroundings and potentially hurting someone.
“Safety is a big priority,” Eselby says. “It’s really taking your time to make sure you’re doing the job correctly, but also safely so you’re not endangering yourself, you’re not endangering plants in any way, and making sure, in the end, you have produced the best result given your work.”
Eselby says his summer work experiences have been rewarding, as they allowed him to work alongside other people who love and care about plants as much as he does.
“The people I work with are equally as passionate about plant science, and they’re equally as passionate about what they do,” Eselby says. “And it makes me more excited to come to work because there are more people like me who are crazy plant people who just want to help everything flourish in the greenhouses.”
Eselby has been a lifelong plant-lover, springing from a childhood spent gardening with his mother.
As a student at Northwest Regional High School, an agricultural school in Winsted, Eselby’s interest in plant science deepened.
“The science behind it, raising the plants, getting the reward at the end of either selling that plant or taking care of that plant and watching it flourish, that’s what keeps me here,” Eselby says.
Eselby just retired as the Connecticut State FFA President. Eselby had been involved with FFA since his time at Northwestern Regional High School. As president, Eselby traveled within and beyond the state, running leadership workshops for other members focused on building their advocacy and leadership abilities in agriculture.
“FFA encompasses the leadership side of agriculture and has helped me develop into who I am today,” Eselby says.
Eselby plans to eventually pursue a PhD in plant science. Working in the greenhouses this summer exposed him to many of the plant science research projects happening at UConn as he helped researchers prepare plants or soil for experiments.
“Getting to expand my interest areas through seeing what other researchers are doing has been incredibly valuable,” Eselby says.
Eselby says he enjoys the diversity within the plant science field.
“Plant science is such a broad field with so many little specialties throughout it – whether you’re focusing on tropical plants, whether you’re focusing on entomology or crop science – there’s pretty much a plant or interest area for everyone,” Eselby says.