by JENNIFER FRAKES | photos by Soul of Photography

Finding Joy in Nature

volunteer_friestedt4As the docent chair for the San Diego Botanic Garden (SDBG), Mary Friestedt thoroughly enjoys watching visitors immerse themselves in nature. “SDBG is a place where people can connect with plants and with nature. Visitors always leave the garden feeling happier than when they arrived,” Mary revealed. “I love seeing families together exploring and learning. It really makes my heart explode with joy.” Her volunteer responsibilities include leading tours, as well as the SDBG general meetings, keeping members informed of happenings at SDBG, and participating in events and activities.

San Diego Botanic Garden is not only a beautiful landscape where trees and plants grow, but also a place where people can grow and learn. “When I gave my first tour at SDBG in 2001, I was petrified. Now, I truly enjoy speaking to groups. I firmly believe that is what SDBG does for people – it helps you discover your gifts so that you can teach the community about the wonders of the natural world,” Mary shared.

Name: Mary Friestedt
Commuity: Del Mar
Volunteer Affiliations: San Diego Botanic Garden, Del Mar Garden Club, Torrey Pines Docent, Master Gardeners
Profession: Retired teacher
Family: Husband – Jeff; Sons – Matt and Drew
Interests and Hobbies: Gardening, reading, hiking, and walking
Favorite Local Places to Visit: San Diego Botanic Garden and Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve

volunteer_friestedt3Mary is also an active member of the Del Mar Garden Club. She joined the club in 2006, was president of the club for two years, and is currently in charge of the club’s six beautification projects. “We are constantly striving to keep our many projects in town well maintained,” she explained. “When we work at the post office very Tuesday morning, we often answer questions from passersby. Educating the community is one of our missions.”

According to Mary, teaching is in her blood, and volunteering for both SDBG and the Del Mar Garden Club fulfills her desire to help others learn more about the natural world around them. She also feels blessed to have found incredible people at both organizations – people she thinks of as extended family. “We always work hard when we’re together, but we are laughing the whole time. It is a joy being involved with SDBG and the Garden Club,” she said.

When Mary is not leading tours at SDBG or working on projects for the Del Mar Garden Club, she can be found maintaining her own garden, reading, walking with her dog Happy, and hiking. According to Mary, her twin sister Julie encouraged her to take up hiking. In fact, Mary and Julie have hiked to the top of Mount Whitney, the tallest peak in the continental United States, five times!

Name of Group: San Diego Botanic Garden
Group’s Mission: To inspire people of all ages to connect with plants and nature