Name: Keith Kaiser
Title: Executive Director
Educational background: Bachelor’s degree in Ornamental Horticulture from The Ohio State University Associate’s degree in Nursery Management from The Ohio State University’s Agricultural Technical Institute
Primary role at the Garden: Keeping all the plates spinning at once! Director of the overall operation of Pittsburgh Botanic Garden.
How did you start in this career (or transition from another career): I chose to study horticulture in college after having an interest in plants (it was the 1970’s) as well by taking one of those high school ”what do you want to be” tests where the outcome referenced that I should be a park ranger. After completing an internship in 1978 at Kingwood Center Gardens in Mansfield, Ohio, I realized that focusing my interest in public horticulture was my goal for my professional life. I am one of those lucky individuals to be in the job of their dreams, where my hobbies and professional life merge.
What you love most about your job: Seeing Pittsburgh Botanic Garden evolve is the most exciting part of my job. Seeing a guest learn something about plants really makes my day. The world of plants is so welcoming; I hope everyone finds a place to connect with it.
Interesting anecdote or fun fact about your job: I am fortunate to have been connected to the Garden before my employment began in 2016. It was in 2011, that I first visited the site with my predecessor Greg Nace. I consulted with the Garden on site selection for native tree seedlings that were purchased. At that time I thought, a botanic garden is going to be created on this site…I had reservation.
What do you like to do when you are not at work (hobby or other): I am always looking for time to spend in my garden. Not mowing, but I did get a new electric lawn mower; it is great, but planting, weeding, designing, etc. Specifically, I like spring blooming bulbs. One can never have too many and there is always room for more! My other passion is the ongoing renovations taking place at my home. Built in 1817 this house and garden has a long list of tasks that my wife and I want to complete. We hope to get through it so we have time to enjoy it before we are much older and grayer!
Who inspired you to pursue this line of work? Well, my grandfather was a farmer/gardener who I observed in his vegetable garden. He loved to grow pumpkins. However professionally, Fred Roberts who was then the director at the garden I completed that internship at inspired me.