Volunteer Spotlight: Jean Hense
May 03

Volunteer Spotlight: Jean Hense

By Alexa Sinatra

Phipps is well-known for our beautiful gardens, seasonal flower shows, pioneering sustainability initiatives, informative educational programs and community outreach. None of our work, however, would be possible without the knowledge and dedication of our volunteers. In this series of profiles, we meet some of the people who give their time to make Phipps possible.

Jean Hense is born and raised in Pittsburgh where her interest in gardening began in the early 1990s. During that time, her mother got sick and plants acted as a form of therapy for her. Once she bought her own home, she hated the huge bushes in the yard, After 15 years of living there, she finally decided to rip them out! From there, she began her very own garden including around 14 species of plants.  

Here at Phipps, Jean can be found in the Tropical Forest cleaning up leaves or outdoors weeding depending on the unpredictable Pittsburgh weather. She relishes in her time volunteering at Phipps and says, “I love playing in the dirt.” Jean is happy to do just about anything to help keep Phipps beautiful!

Back in 2015, her and a friend were looking for something to do and thought about how calm and pleasant their visits to Phipps have been. Jean then signed up to volunteer and has contributed an abundance of hard work ever since.

Every Monday, Jean spends her mornings volunteering then walks around the conservatory to take photos – something she has loved doing since she was 21! From birds to cityscapes to the moon, Jean photgraphs anything that strikes her. Luckily, Phipps gives her plenty of amazing things to capture (see below!). Though she doesn’t always make it to every room after her shift, Jean never misses her favorites: the Orchid Room and the Japanese Garden.

Sticking to volunteering once a week guarantees Jean will see something new every time she comes back! Seeing those beautiful blooms, especially orchids, never gets old for Jean and she looks forward to volunteering for many years to come.

Enjoy some of Jean's photos below!