Staff Spotlight: Lisa Sanphillippo

Lisa_SanphillippoMeet Lisa Dora Sanphillippo! Lisa is the School Fieldtrips Coordinator for UW Botanic Gardens.

She lived in L.A. until she was 8 years old.  Her mom “got a little freaked out” by the big city, big crime and smog so she moved them to a tiny town in Idaho called Kamiah (population 2500).  The family lived in the middle of a National Forest and the Clearwater River. They swam with bass, rode horses, and learned to pee outside.

Lisa moved to Lewiston, Idaho in 1988 to attend Lewis-Clark State College where she studied theatre.  She moved to Seattle in 1992 to be with her boyfriend, and is married to him now (they have been together 23 years, married 18).

She still enjoys doing theatre from time to time and is currently co-writing a cabaret with the hope of producing this fall.  She enjoys photography, crafting, walking her dog, Franklin, and watching movies.
Lisa loves science and tries to learn more about the world around her all the time. She states that biology was/is her favorite class so far.

Lisa started as a volunteer with UW Botanic Gardens in the fall of 2003.  She applied for the job previously held by Shawna Zuege.  Chris Berry (the Supervisor at the time) asked Lisa if she would volunteer, and she did.  Two years later, Chris moved on, Shawna moved up, and so did Lisa.

A typical day at work for Lisa involves e-mail, development of program activities or curricula, brainstorming with colleagues, and hanging out with/teaching kids.  Her favorite activity is spending time with kids, though she loves that she has a variety of duties.

Lisa has several favorite places at UW Botanic Gardens, though she states the Winter Garden is probably her top choice. It is the most wonderful place to visit to enjoy the fragrance, color, and texture of the plants when it is cold and dreary in the middle of January.  This lifts her spirits and helps her deal with the short days.  She also adores the way the Winter Garden is designed to resemble the layout of a room, including an entry way and living room.

Her favorite tree at the Washington Park Arboretum at the moment (and for a long time) is the State Champion Malus fusca or Pacific crabapple that can be found just up the ramp from the Graham Visitors Center.  The bark is twisted, which makes it seem like it is in motion — or maybe those twists and furrows are its wrinkles; it is old, possibly 100 years or more.  It’s a champion because it is wider than it is tall.  The last measurement she knows of stated it was 45 feet tall and 75 feet wide.  The branches reach to the right and left like it is welcoming you.

Lisa also loves Azara microphylla because they are pretty droopy little trees that smell like cocoa butter in winter.  Lisa loves our own native Sitka spruce because they are ancient giants that live in an amazing forest ecosystem.  She loves snowbells and crocus that herald the coming of spring.  But, right now, her favorite is the Baobab tree.  She has loved them since childhood when she read The Little Prince.  It is on her bucket list to see them in their native habitat.

Lisa’s favorite walk is through the oaks, down the trail parallel to Azalea Way to the Walnuts and up to Honeysuckle hill, through the Viburnums and back up and out to Azalea Way to visit the big pond.