JOPLIN, Mo. — From zoos and the National Audubon Society to finding the next thing to grow the local economy, a Joplin man has had a wide range of jobs in his career.

Action 12’s Gretchen Bolander traces how Tony Robyn made the jump from plants and animals to job creation in her special report Career 2.0.

Tony Robyn, Joplin, said, “If you want to go all the way back to my 3rd grade report I had to write, I wanted to be a train engineer.”

That didn’t survive the transition to a full time job, but Tony Robyn’s love of the great outdoors did.

“Fishing hiking, that sort of thing, so I always had an affinity to the outdoors.”

A degree in natural science led to a job designing exhibits for the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado.

“I really loved that because you did the research on plants that were closely associated with the animals that you were trying to recreate their habitat.”

He would move to the Kansas City Zoo with some time devoted to a restoration of a limestone glade.

“It was really cool – and my career started shifting toward conservation type principals outside of the zoo field per se.”

It led him to Joplin – the new director of the Wildcat Glades Conservation and Audubon Center still in development.

After 6 years at the nature center, he was promoted first to state leadership with the Audubon Society, and later a Regional Vice President.

13 states, covering a lot of ground, meeting a lot of people.

“I traveled a lot and I would often come home from those trips, three days at a time or a week at a time, two days home.”

Ready for more stability, it was time to make a switch, which took him away from the natural world.

He first worked for Joplin City Hall as a recovery coordinator after the 2011 tornado – them moved to the Chamber of Commerce covering economic development for seven counties.

“You just find yourself in a logical place, it makes a lot of sense. I’m comfortable. I enjoy doing this and just moved down the path.”

Not a common career path – but one with new job opportunities with each twist and turn.

“Don’t burn any bridges, isn’t that what everybody always it’s always about relationship building and people.”