Valeriia Tolkacheva is a recent transplant to South Florida. She grew up amid the frozen swamps and canals of St. Petersburg, Russia, always cherishing that city’s careful geometry but taking every chance to explore the forests of wild blueberries and granite-lined lakes lying outside the urban limits.

These experiences inspired her to pursue an education and a career in landscape architecture and urban design, where she delicately shapes the intersection between the natural and the urban. In addition to designing city parks, playgrounds and other public spaces, she is proud to have worked as a lead designer for the largest national park in eastern Europe, where she learned to create park infrastructure with the participation of local indigenous communities, preserving their sacred sites while protecting the rich natural biodiversity of the area.

Valeriia is currently pursuing her second master’s in landscape architecture at FIU and also working as a senior designer at a local firm, learning to adapt her experiences to the many natural habitats of Florida. In her off time, she enjoys observing manatees, eating mangoes, drawing, and hiking in the state’s many beautiful parks.