Claudine Reyes: Inspiration and Innovation
It’s easy to find inspiration when the Garden is your office!
“A simple walk around the Garden really inspires me and reenergizes me,” Visual Media Specialist Claudine Reyes explains. She loves to hear other staff members and volunteers talk about the Garden. “I feel like I really feed off of their energy whenever they speak about their work.”
Inspiration from Family and Coworkers
Claudine became a Visual Media Specialist at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in August 2019. She says she remembers feeling that energy during one of her first projects — during Thanksgiving of that year, she interviewed staff, volunteers and visitors about what they were thankful for. Claudine found inspiration from “show[ing] off what everybody really cared about at this Garden and why it’s really special to a lot of people.”
Claudine explains her job is to “help everybody else at the Garden succeed by supporting them through graphics such as posters, signage, images and video.” You can find all of the Garden’s core values in Claudine, but she shines the brightest when it comes to inspiration and innovation.
Claudine’s inspiration for public gardens can be traced to before her time at here Lewis Ginter. She remembers a third-grade field trip to the Norfolk Botanical Garden. “I brought my disposable camera and I took lots of pictures. Now that I think about it, it’s pretty much the same thing that I did there as I’m doing here.”
Her inspiration was also fostered by her grandparents who came to the United States from the Philippines. Claudine thinks of her maternal grandmother, “Lola,” who was known for her impressive orchid collection. She shares the first time she saw orchids in the Conservatory, “I was really kind of overwhelmed, I think.” Her paternal grandfather “Lolo Dee” was always harvesting eggplants, tomatoes and other treats from his garden. Claudine’s upbringing still serves as an inspiration in all of her work with digital media.
Innovation with Peers
Claudine works with Children’s Educator Tarneshia Evans to produce Virtual Storytime videos on Facebook. “What makes [Virtual Storytime] special is the great feedback and response we receive from the audience,” Tarneshia explains. “It’s definitely a reflection of the hard work that Claudine provides to make storytime so magical!”
Inspiration to the Community
Thanks to Claudine’s innovative work, the community can still enjoy Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden during COVID-19. She uses technology to educate, engage and bring joy to kids and adults alike. “Even if it’s just one person commenting on Tarneshia’s Storytime… that really means a lot to me that we made an impact in that way,” Claudine explains.
“Claudine’s work is inspiring and innovative because she is,” Tarneshia says. While Claudine is often behind the screen rather than on camera, “I believe that my role as a person of color at the Garden is important.” Claudine recognizes the value of representation, and she hopes her work “inspires people to see that the Garden is a welcoming place.”