Meet the Team: Matt Gisondi

Matt is one of the founding members of Restore Our Roots (ROR) and is an active core member involved in project planning and overseeing the recently growing finances of the organization. Although both his professional and private life currently revolve around the environment and being outside, his love and interest for nature was very limited in childhood and grew slowly as he maneuvered through higher education.
Matt had a traditional suburban childhood in the 1990s. Playing with neighborhood kids outside was becoming rarer and television and video games were more of a normal thing with friends. His experience with scouting was limited to just Cub Scouts before the troop was disbanded for lack of members. Helping his mom in the garden was the most he would interact with plants and animals. Perhaps the family cabin located in the middle of PA was what kept him from being fully closed off from nature since it lacked cable and internet. Although he did well in science classes from elementary to high school, art was a bigger interest of his. He entered projects into exhibits and performed in the music program at North Penn including within its marching band, the Marching Knights. Architecture became his main interest while involved in the high school’s Technology Student Association (TSA) club. 
After graduating high school in 2011, he was accepted at Philadelphia University, now Jefferson University, as a student in the College of Architecture. However, his pursuit in architecture only lasted a year when he realized it was not the kind of design major he wanted to pursue. Unsure of his educational direction, he looked to the guidance of his design professor whom he had for both freshman year semesters. After some thought and conversations, he entered and eventually graduated with a B.S. in the major of Environmental Science and Policy in 2015. Along with his membership with the university’s environmental club, the Environmental Science and Policy degree instilled an interest in natural systems and living sustainably..
His first job was with the local municipality of his childhood home in the Geological Information Systems (GIS) Department. Technology was still somewhat of an interest of his, and he saw the artistry of (GIS). However, wanting to utilize the degree he earned, he eventually moved from Montgomery County to Chester County in 2016 and was hired at Stroud Water Research Center(SWRC) within their Watershed Restoration Department. The 4.5 years of work here was what unlocked his interest and passion for nature and drew a connection between design/art and science for him. His time at SWRC also provided foundational education in water science and various tools for monitoring, analyzing, and modelling watershed conditions. At the same time, he attended and completed Mt Cuba Center’s Ecological Gardening Certification program. This gave him a basic education in soil sciences and horticulture as well as a greater appreciation in the function and design of plants.
Currently, Matt is employed in East Pikeland Township as its first Park, Trails, and Open Space Steward. Since joining in February 2021, he has become a certified Master Watershed Steward and is currently pursuing further training and education in various horticulture, arboriculture, and soil science subjects. While not working or spending time with ROR, Matt is devoting more time outdoors hiking, fishing, foraging, and playing discgolf. He continues his passion in art and design with writing, illustrating, and gardening during his free time. Thankfully, nature was always present, in some capacity in his life. The right people and experiences allowed his interest and passion for the environment to take root and flourish into what it is now.

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