Volunteer Spotlight: Joanna Mayo
Sep 09

Volunteer Spotlight: Joanna Mayo

By Karen Santelli

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.

When Joanna Mayo began as a docent with Phipps after retiring almost five years ago, it was because of her love for plants and gardening. “I had a fabulous garden, plus beech and plum trees and a koi pond,” said Joanna, who recently had to give up her gardens when she moved to a smaller home in Shadyside. “I thought because of my love of gardens and nature that Phipps would be a great opportunity. Very quickly, I learned that Phipps is a place about history and sustainability.”

At least once a week, Joanna gives Conservatory tours, BETA (Biophilia Enhanced Through Art) tours, and sustainability tours. She says that, from a docent’s point of view, a good tour depends on being able to understand your audience and their interests. While some visitors are interested in plants and flowers, others are just as interested in sustainability or the history of Phipps Conservatory and its founder, Henry Phipps.

“Phipps is really an important place to the city of Pittsburgh,” Joanna said. “It’s important historically, and it’s on the cutting edge in terms of its sustainable building and its sustainability initiatives. So for all those reasons, it’s a good fit for me.”

Select photos © Paul g. Wiegman