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Volunteer Spotlight: Marina Pawlesh
Dec 17
2019

Volunteer Spotlight: Marina Pawlesh

By Michael Macesich

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 Marina Pawlesh started gardening, she made sure to do it with a purpose. She wanted the garden to be blooming for most of the seasons of the year and, as she noted, “Growing perennials seemed to be the way to achieve that purpose.” As her passion for gardening continued to grow, she knew she wanted to learn as much as possible about everything from different kinds of plants to best gardening practices for the environment. She started to take classes in the Phipps Master Gardener program and graduated in 2015.

According to Marina, one of the things she likes about Phipps’ volunteer program is “the wide variety of opportunities to become involved so that any volunteer can find their niche.” Marina has always enjoyed the butterflies and birds that visit her home garden, and she raised and tagged monarch butterflies as part of the Monarch Watch Program. She has even visited the overwintering sites of monarch butterflies in Mexico. When she began to volunteer at Phipps, she knew she wanted to work in the Butterfly Forest.

Over the past five years, Marina has been a weekly volunteer for the Butterfly Forest. Here, she sorts and attaches hundreds of butterfly chrysalises to display boards. Over time, the butterflies emerge right before visitors’ eyes and then flutter around the Stove Room. Marina says that visitors are always fascinated with the process of butterfly metamorphosis and she appreciates the ability to say that she is one of the people that keeps the Butterfly Forest alive.

Outside the world of horticulture, Marina has worked as a medical speech-language pathologist for more than 40 years. When she retires, she hopes to stay certified as a Phipps Master Gardener and take advantage of all of the classes and volunteer opportunities that Phipps has to offer.