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Horticulture Spotlight: Jessica Horenstein
Sep 28

Horticulture Spotlight: Jessica Horenstein

By Lindsey Beck

Horticulture is the art or practice of garden cultivation and management. Without horticulture, and the people who are most passionate about it, Phipps would not be what it is today. Phipps takes pride in having elaborate, beautiful and well-kept gardens throughout the conservatory. This would not be possible without the hard-working horticulture team. In this series of profiles, we meet some of the people who make Phipps possible.

Jessica (Jess) Horenstein is the Outdoor Foreman here at Phipps. She has been working here for the past six years. Jess has always had a love for nature; however, this passion did not begin with plants! As a young girl, Jess was drawn towards the natural sciences in school. When she decided to attend Penn State University, she had dreams of becoming a zookeeper which led her to interning at the Erie Zoo. After graduating from Penn State with a degree in Environmental Resource Management, she looked to move to the Pittsburgh area.

After moving to Pittsburgh, Jess continued pursuing her zookeeper dreams. She eventually got a job at the National Aviary where she was a birdkeeper for 4 years. Later, she moved to Boston where she worked with birds at the Boston Zoo for 4 years. She then moved back to Pittsburgh and started on a new path by working in the landscaping business. Before getting a job here, she thought of Phipps as a “magical experience” and a place where she was very interested in potentially working. When she initially got hired at Phipps, she was a landscaper at the Center for Sustainable Landscapes working with native plants and ecological restoration. Over the years, her job title at Phipps has evolved along with her! She started at the Center for Sustainable Landscapes, then moved to display horticulture to her current role as the outdoor foreman for all the outdoor grounds.

A typical workday for Jess starts at 6:30 a.m. and ends at around 3 p.m. She starts the day by watering which she says is one of the most important parts of the job. She does all outdoor garden work, which includes taking care of annual plants, maintenance such as weeding and deadheading, planting, mulching and, of course, watering. In addition to these responsibilities, she also sets up some of the work for the lovely volunteers who are dedicated to lending their hands to help make Phipps beautiful.

We asked Jess what her favorite part of her job is and she said that it’s the people she has met and her coworkers who provide their expertise each day. She loves that they make her job fun and how everyone can learn from one another. There is always something different in the day-to-day routine! The flexibility and room for creativity that comes with the job is also a huge plus for her.

Something that people might not know about her job is that she is able to enjoy her other outdoor hobbies while she works. Her love for birds has never faded as she loves birdwatching while she works in the outdoor gardens. We asked Jess if she has a favorite plant, to which she revealed it to be witch-hazel. She even has a tattoo of it on her leg! She says that this plant has many special properties, despite the “scary” name, including being medicinal and great smelling.

The work that Jess does at Phipps makes a huge impact on the quality and beauty of the outdoor gardens. She ensures that the gardens are looked after before Phipps opens to the public and maintains them throughout the day. Her expertise and positive attitude make her passion for her work shine through. Thank you, Jess, for your hard work and dedication!

Header photo © Paul g. Wiegman


A valuable and committed member of Phipps staff with a real love for the natural world

By keith donati on Sep 30, 2022

Phipps is truly blessed to have Jess on their staff.

By Elsie Boucek on Oct 2, 2022