Staff Profile: Appreciating the Calm

  • Kurt Simms  

These days, Kurt Simms may be shoveling snow and breaking ice, but he’s dreaming of spring.

“Honestly, I never thought that much about grass and flowers until I began doing this,” Simms said.

As a member of the landscaping crew with Facilities & Operations at Franklin & Marshall College, Simms, 49, helps to maintain the grounds.

“One of the unique aspects of my job is getting to learn about all the different types of plants and trees we have on campus,” he said.

Many don’t know it, explained Simms, but the campus is an arboretum. The College is home to more than 140 species and varieties of trees, including the Franklinia tree, named after Benjamin Franklin. The species is now extinct in the wild, Simms noted.

During the spring and summer, Simms’ main duty is gardening, including mowing the athletic fields on campus and on Harrisburg Pike.

“When I’m on the golf course – one of my other loves — I learn a lot about how to cut the grass and maintain it. I make sure to talk to the groundskeepers to get tips,” Simms said.

Simms joined F&O three years ago, but he served as a Public Safety officer with the College for nearly nine years before that.

He liked the work, he said, but decided he needed a change.

“Even when I was with Public Safety, I had an appreciation for how beautiful this campus is. We didn’t let anyone climb the trees or pick the flowers. I still get mad when people drive carts on the grass,” he said.

Simms is single and lives near campus on Walnut Street. He likes jazz and spends much of his free time with his family.

He’s soft-spoken and said he enjoys the tranquility of working with flowers and plants. “I have come to appreciate the calming nature of the work,” he said.

It wasn’t always that way. As a Public Safety officer, Simms said he experienced some “fascinating things,” including the time a few years ago when a cow from the Lancaster Stock Yards broke out of its pen and ended up on campus. For an hour, Public Safety and the Lancaster City Police chased the cow until someone from the stockyards arrived to corral the animal.

It wasn’t very funny at the time, Simms said, but in retrospect, “That was a strange and surreal moment.”

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