PHL Unsung Heroes: Elliot Lewis Landscape Maintenance Supervisor Barbara Hatty

Elliot Lewis Landscape Maintenance Supervisor Barbara Hatty recently received the “Unsung Heroes” award in Philadelphia International Airport’s (PHL) Employee Recognition Program. This award honors employees who work behind the scenes and are not typically recognized for their work. Although they do not work directly with guests, their effectiveness has a major impact on the airport and guest experience.   

Hatty oversees the planted area landscape at Northeast Philadelphia Airport (PNE) and on the arrival and departure roads, employee lots, SEPTA platforms at PHL. She also maintains plants throughout the airport including those in the large red planters spotted in and outside of the terminals.  

Hatty graduated with a bachelor's degree in Horticulture from Temple University in 1993. She works Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. – 6 p.m.  

“My job is to beautify the airport,” said Hatty. “Nature helps people calm down. It makes people feel better. It’s a form of serenity.”   

Growing up, Hatty loved being around nature and is a passionate advocate for saving the environment.   

In his recommendation of Hatty, Elliot Lewis Facility Maintenance Manager David Hargest said, “Barb has served as the airport's horticulturist for the past 25 years and will be retiring this year. She is the only person to ever have this role at PHL. She has been responsible for every plant and flower in and outside of the airport since 1997. She dedicated her life to beautifying the airport for the benefit of passengers and employees. She accomplished this through a unique blend of caring, hard-work, and creativity.”  

When Hatty drives to work, she checks the landscape to ensure no trees have fallen and  attends to other plants.  

The outdoors is Hatty’s natural environment, as she enjoys being outside even in cold temperatures.  

“Passengers and employees appreciate the landscaping and the flowers,” said Hatty. “They really enjoy it. I enjoy when my work looks good.”    

butterfly gardenHatty takes pride in her work at the airport and enjoyed redesigning the Butterfly Garden at PNE. 

Additionally, Hargest stated, “Barb has continued to do an amazing job through such difficult times such as 9/11 and the recent pandemic. Through the years and turbulent times, she has continued to do her best to make PHL and PNE look their best.”     

Hatty’s favorite flower is the Siberian Iris for its beautiful, majestic contrast of blue and yellow colors. Her favorite plants at PHL are the magnolias in Terminal B Baggage Claim.  

“I like working with Pavement and Grounds and the engineers here at the airport,” she said. “I always try to do better and try to think of new ideas. I bring in colorful flowers that pop.”   

The Spring blooms, oaks, maples, Eastern red buds, tulips and ornamental Spring looming trees are some of her favorites.    

“For every one tree that’s uprooted, two trees should be planted,” said Hatty. “People should always care about the Earth, not just on Earth Day. My advice to people is for them to walk more, drive less, recycle, and buy compostable products. Teach your kids how to respect the earth. Teach them how to garden.”    

Hatty loves Philadelphia and enjoys the parks downtown. In her quarter of a century at PHL, she met her husband, a police officer, and they’ve been married for 21 years. She plans to retire on a high note.  

“I just hope that my time here has made a difference in the landscape,” said Hatty. “I hope people take the time to appreciate the landscaping.  I hope they go outside and see the trees and flowers. I hope it gives them pleasure, even if it’s only for five minutes.”    

The PHL Employee Recognition Program was established by the airport’s Guest Experience (GX) Department. Honorees are nominated by their peers and selected by the GX Council Steering Committee’s Employee Conduct and Recognition Committee. To nominate an employee click here. For more information about the program, click here.    


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