Staff Highlight: Suzanne Baker

A portrait photo of Suzanne Baker

As the horticulture department coordinator and horticultural specialist, Suzanne works alongside clients during their recovery and helps keep the Skyland Trail campuses beautiful.

What inspired you to enter the mental health field?

I found my purpose and passion to help others over 15 years ago when I started working at a local shelter for individuals experiencing homelessness. It was an eye-opening experience that changed my worldview. Since then, I have worked with impoverished populations, as well as with individuals on the autism spectrum. Mental health has played a large role in every population I’ve worked with, which is why I was so excited at the opportunity to have it as the focus of my work here at Skyland Trail.

My family has also been greatly impacted by mental health, which gives me a deeper motivation to serve our clients and their families.

As I continue to develop skills and grow in the field, I want to be a resource and help advocate for those who feel unheard, misinformed, and/or ashamed. 

What is your favorite part of working at Skyland Trail?

The people! All my co-workers are intelligent, caring, and amazing at what they do. It’s inspiring to witness all the hard work that goes on day in and day out. It doesn’t hurt that the Skyland Trail campuses are beautiful.

From your perspective and experience, how can participating in horticulture help clients reach their recovery goals?

I believe nature is the most powerful tool we have, and horticultural therapy encourages this innate connection to nature that lives within us all. Plants have the ability to facilitate the therapeutic process, regardless of what issue someone is dealing with. It is deeply moving to witness how someone learning to tend to and care for a plant translates to them being able to take care of themselves.

Do you have any tips for folks just getting into gardening or taking care of plants?

A piece of advice for anyone interested in gardening is to just try it, and don’t be afraid to “mess up.”  Gardening is like cooking: the more you do it, the better you’ll become at it. There are no mistakes in gardening because you’re constantly learning, and that’s what it’s all about.

The Johnny’s Selected Seeds website ( is a great resource for plant and gardening information. More specifically, their Grower’s Library is a wealth of knowledge.

A great app that I’d highly recommend is called Picture This ( It helps you identify plants through pictures and offers great information.

What is your favorite plant and why? 

This is a tough one because I love so many! Purple Passion vine is a long-time favorite of mine, for several reasons. First, the flower itself is so unique and exotic that it looks like it could be from a different planet.  Second, it is a host plant for butterflies, meaning it serves as a food source for butterfly larvae. Third, it is native to Georgia, and therefore very hardy and difficult to kill once it’s established. It is invasive though so be careful where you plant it!

Close-up of a Purple Passionflower

Who or what inspires you?

My family inspires me. I’m surrounded by people who love and support me in all that I do, and I want to continue to make them proud. 

What’s one way you practice self-care?

Yoga has been instrumental for me since I started practicing six years ago. Beyond the physical benefits, it encourages me to be mindful and present.

What’s your favorite cheerleading statement or mantra?

“It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get up.”
– Vince Lombardi