Volunteer Spotlight: Silloo Kapadia
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.
Born in India, Silloo has always had a passion for teaching and learning that led her to attending medical school in the city of Chennai. She came to the United States about 50 years ago to begin her career in pathology. Silloo spent 35 years practicing pathology during which she became a professor to share her knowledge, wisdom and experience to those also interested in the field.
Based on her continuous love for nature, Silloo decided to buy a plant encyclopedia to learn as much as she could about the vast array of species. In 2007, she successfully completed the Phipps Master Gardener program which resulted in her volunteering at least twice a month ever since! Her volunteering began in the Discovery Garden where she interacted with children to help them learn about and appreciate the natural world.
In 2008, she became a docent and says, “I have always loved teaching and docent means teacher.” This was clearly a position meant for her! If she isn’t doing a guided tour, she is stationing in one of several rooms which allows her to become an expert on all the beauty that specific room contains. Silloo can provide information to guests effortlessly while answering any question they may have. Although Silloo recalls a man asking her, “What is the meaning of life?” for which she could not provide an answer!
When asked her favorite part of volunteering at Phipps, Silloo had two answers. One of which was the plants; she is constantly stopping to take photos and record the scientific names so that she can read about them. The second part of her answer was the joy she gains from meeting so many different people from so many different places. In addition to Phipps, Silloo actively participates in Penn States Master Gardener Program and the Herb Society of America, Western Pennsylvania Unit, where she gives talks about various topics. Needless to say, Silloo will never stop finding ways to expand and share her wealth of knowledge at Phipps and beyond!