From St. Louis to Geneva

| July 30, 2010

‘Ready to go back’

Nickie Greenwood, Geneva Campus, visits with Ray Holtmann watering new plantings. Photo by Angela Murphy

When he applied to take part in the Global Staff Exchange program, Ray Holtmann, groundskeeper, Facilities Operations, was willing to work at any campus in Webster’s international network, and thought he might go to Thailand. As it turned out, the Geneva Campus was the one to benefit from his landscaping and gardening expertise.

In addition to putting in a number of annuals, perennials and trees, Holtmann designed a long-term plan for the grounds. His April 12-23 visit was well timed to spruce up the campus before Geneva’s May 8 graduation reception.

Work in progress...

“The work was pretty intense. I removed all the existing landscaping as well as some old wooden benches that were in bad shape,” Holtmann says. “As I do at the St. Louis campus, I asked the students for their input, and they suggested adding a fountain, so we incorporated one into the plan.”

Holtmann hails from Washington, Mo., a relatively small town more than an hour’s drive from the Webster Groves campus, so navigating a city the size of Geneva was a bit of a challenge for him the first few days. “I’m not a city person and I found it kind of overwhelming,” he says. “So they moved me to Versoix, a little town nearby that was wonderful.”

Speaking “just enough French to survive,” Holtmann discovered that hand gestures worked pretty well on his shopping trips to area nurseries, and he was able to obtain the plants and trees he had in mind for the campus.

Holtmann enjoyed his time at the Geneva campus. “Everyone made me feel so welcome, inviting me to lunch and dinner,” he says.

New fountain suggested by Geneva students. Photo by Angela Murphy

His hosts enjoyed his visit, too. “Ray made the campus look beautiful for the graduation reception,” says Nickie Greenwood, personnel and office manager, Geneva. “We were lucky with the weather, and our graduates and their families enjoyed taking pictures in front of the flower beds.”

...Garden area completed.

After his assignment on campus was completed, Holtmann enjoyed some vacation time exploring Geneva, checking out the local cuisine (and vino) and sampling a few exotic entrées, such as pig’s cheeks and ostrich.

“The trip was definitely an adventure and I do recommend people apply for the program,” Holtmann says. “And I would be happy to go back next year and finish the work I started.”

Category: Webster News

Comments (1)

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  1. Virginia Currat says:

    Thank you, Ray !  The campus really looks beautiful !! 
    The exchange program is a wonderful opportunity for all to profit from a new experience, in both directions.