Five Questions with Stephanie Walsh, executive director of Lakewold Gardens in Lakewood: 

1. How did you start working at Lakewold Gardens?
I was at a point in my late twenties ready to add a new thing to my professional life. I wasn’t exactly sure what that was at the time, but ended up perusing the classified ads and found a four-hour-a-week bookkeeping position at Lakewold. Already working in the financial services world and also working on the books for my husband’s lawn maintenance company on weekends, I thought I could squeeze just one more thing in. The rest is history and it has been a most amazing ride.

2. What are some of the perks of your job?
I love that every single day at work is significantly different than the day before. We are able to serve many types of visitors. They all come to and enjoy the gardens for a variety of reasons – horticulture, history, or just to get away from the daily grind. Yet, within each year, the seasons bring some continuity and that is fun too. In the early spring, many of our locals come out for a quick visit, and in the summer months we enjoy seeing the tourists. The tourists are amazed by the plant life that is often vastly different from their home state or country. Seeing the gardens through the eyes of the visitors is very inspiring. No complaints on my own personal 2.7 mile commute either!

3. Where do you see Pierce County tourism going in the next five to ten years?
I have really enjoyed watching the shift in tourism promotion over the last decade. It just seems that year-by-year, all of the people working within our tourism-related businesses are getting on board with promotion of the entire county. Partnerships are stronger and it’s wonderful to be a part of that ‘greater good’ spirit. The U.S Open festivities most definitely helped that spirit along. My hope is that we all continue this great work, together. We have such variety in Pierce County – something for every brand of tourist.

4. What do you do in your spare time?
I try hard to fill each day with activities I enjoy and people I love to be around. That happens at the garden, but when not at work I love to exercise. My gym buddies are so much fun and I thoroughly enjoy the challenges of TRX, personal training and more recently kickboxing. Now that it’s spring, I play a lot of softball – and my dogs are always ready for a trip to the dog park. When the sun disappears, I head to Mexico every chance I get.

5. What are some of your favorite attractions in Pierce County?
I love the LeMay Family Collection at Marymount. The surroundings are so lush and peaceful. It’s a great location to appreciate the collection, while also getting a sense of historical perspective. In terms of our parks and open spaces, one of my favorite things to do is walk Chambers Bay. I’ll usually go in the early evening. I love the feel of the sun as it begins its descent against the water of the sound. When the train flies by simultaneously…it’s wonderful. Such a great experience for both tourists to and residents of Pierce County. Having partnered on some projects recently with the Museum of Glass, I’m thankful for the new insight I’ve gained into their offerings as a museum. For me, the entire county is amazing, but when the stories are brought to life, that’s when the real fun begins.