Sasha McGuire is the Education Programs Assistant for Adult, Youth and Family Programs at the UW Botanic Gardens. Sasha enjoys reading, hiking, and video games; she also dabbles in cooking and homesteading activities like making cheese and sausage.
Sasha grew up in upstate New York and received a B.S. in Biology with a minor in Anthropology and Plant Science from SUNY-Geneseo. There she worked in the research greenhouse taking care of orchids, tropical plants, cacti and research plants like tobacco. She then became a Buckeye at The Ohio State University, earning her Master’s in Horticulture and Crop Science. “I was a research assistant on the University farm, which was hard work, but it kept me fed–I got all the vegetables I could eat!”
Sasha loves classifying and identifying things so no surprise her favorite class was Taxonomy of Vascular Plants. “I also loved the field trips, especially when we climbed Algonquin Mountain,” one of the High Peaks in the Adirondacks. Unfortunately, it was cloudy that day, and she didn’t get any views. “We did see a number of alpine plants,” she notes, “but we were all unimpressed after the exhaustion of getting to the summit!”
Despite her eastern roots, Sasha’s husband landed a job as professor at UW-Tacoma. They headed west and never looked back. Sasha started out at UW Botanic Gardens as a volunteer in the Otis Douglas Hyde Herbarium, working on making plant cards and helping audit the herbarium samples. When a position opened at the UW Botanic Gardens Education programs, Sasha jumped at the chance, as working at a botanic garden was her dream job since college.
Sasha loves the variety of her work at UW Botanic Gardens, from searching for interesting articles to posting on the Facebook site to helping create craft projects for our preschool programs. She also enjoys talking with members of the public about the wide array of program offerings. “I really like being able to help people connect with plants, whether it’s a new homeowner who needs gardening classes, or a parent who wants their child to spend more time outside.” She also really enjoys working in the beautiful Center for Urban Horticulture, and with coworkers who are as nutty about plants as she is!
“I can’t just pick one favorite place here!” she pines, “I love the Witt Winter Garden at the Arboretum in February since it smells amazing—so awake and active when many other parts of the Botanic Garden are quiet.” Sasha also recommends the Soest Garden at the Center for Urban Horticulture in summer, when all the perennial beds are busting at the seams with color and every day there is something new blooming. But Sasha’s real soft spot is for the Union Bay Natural Area where she finds the perfect place to walk and unwind after work, and if she’s lucky, get a little sun!
And speaking of sun, Sasha’s favorite plants just happen to be cacti and succulents, though, she admits, it has been a challenge adapting that hobby to Western Washington. She loves their low maintenance nature and their huge range of shapes, colors, and spiny-ness.