June Smathers Jolley, 1978 Haywood Community College Horticulture graduate, was named Outstanding Alumna of the Year Award recipient for 2017. Jolley is the greenhouse manager at the North Carolina Arboretum where she has worked for over 20 years. She was recently recognized at the College’s graduation ceremonies.
Jolley’s fascination with horticulture began at a young age as she watched her mom plant flowers. She credits her mom for teaching her to sew seeds and prepare the beds. By high school, Jolley knew she wanted to have a career in this field. She was the first female student to take horticulture class at Pisgah High School.
After finishing HCC, Jolley worked at Citizen’s Home Center in Asheville before leaving to start Zeb’s Bloomers Greenhouse and Nursery with her husband Zeb Jolley in Canton.
At the Arboretum, Jolley plays an integral part in plant production innovation, multiple seasonal changes in specialized plant exhibits, supporting many major events, managing a demonstration greenhouse featuring rotating exhibits and providing propagation and cultivation expertise for work in natural product research and development. She started a biological pest control program that include beneficial insects and biological controls. She is considered an early innovator of integrative pest management.
According to George Briggs, Executive Director of the NC Arboretum, “Over the years of her tenure, June has contributed significantly in bringing the Greenhouse/Nursery Complex and the Visitor Education Center alive with innovative, high-quality production and programming. June’s plants grace our various gardens and exhibits year-round, indoors and outdoors. Her handiwork is enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of visitors annually.”
In 2011, Jolley created the Horticulture Industry Integrated Pest Management Symposium in partnership with the NC Cooperative Extension. This event has a reputation for being one of the strongest professional symposiums for this field in the region. This annual conference draws professionals from academia, government, industry and other organizations from several states.
According to a nomination for the award by Liz Shaw, “June has never missed an opportunity to further her professional development, share her expertise or serve her community. She has optimized the education she received at your institution through operating her own successful horticulture business, implementing cutting-edge programs at the NC Arboretum and mentoring horticulture students from the region and even the nation.”
Throughout her career, Jolley has mentored and hired many former students from HCC and helped them move on to such places as The Dallas Arboretum, The Biltmore Estate and many others.
“I want students to see their potential,” Jolley explains. “I want to encourage them along. It is really rewarding to see them grasp a concept.”
Jolley also gives back to the community. She has volunteered at two nursing homes to help with their plants and gardens, as well as at the Canton Branch of the Haywood County Public Library. In addition, she sews clothes for needy children through a United Methodist Church mission program.
“June is a prime example of the success that can be attained through hard work and an education from a community college,” explains Zeb Jolley. “She continues to be engaged with the horticulture department at HCC by donating plants, providing volunteer opportunities for students and networking.”
Fellow HCC classmate Rosalyn ‘Roddy’ Ray says, “June is a teacher, mentor, designer, administrator and coordinator of volunteers. She is exactly who HCC should celebrate.”
Fittingly, Briggs says, “If ever a person ‘bloomed where she was planted,’ it would be June. Thank you HCC for providing June such a sound educational background that she leverages to the benefit of her home region, this organization and North Carolina.”
In her free time, Jolley is very active at her church. She sings Christian Harmony, a shape-note singing tradition dating back to the mid-1800s. She also directs the historic shaped-note singing event known as “Old Folks Day” at her church. She co-founded the Quay Smathers Memorial Singing School as a way to preserve this unique American musical tradition.
For more information about HCC, please visit haywood.edu or call 828-627-4500.
Photo by Carol Spags Photography. June Smathers Jolley, 1978 Haywood Community College Horticulture graduate, was named Outstanding Alumna of the Year Award recipient for 2017. Jolley is the greenhouse manager at the North Carolina Arboretum where she has worked for over 20 years. Pictured is Jolley addressing the attendees of HCC’s recent graduation ceremony.