ASLA Oregon LANDbytes AUGUST 2011 Feature:
Like Water on a Duck's Back
By Logan Bingle, Undergraduate of Landscape Architecture, University of Oregon
After last month’s debt crisis and the resulting fall out, it may seem difficult to be upbeat about employment and the future of the profession. However, landscape architecture students at the University of Oregon are not allowing a slow economy to ruin their summer. The Ducks are using a variety of traditional and alternative opportunities to develop professional experience, explore innovations and broaden their horizons.
Some students are using internships to develop professional experience and contacts. Linsey Payne is interning with the City of Cottage Grove to help write the city storm water management plan. She is also working with Oregon DEQ to create a storm water management template, which will be used as a policy guide by other towns within the Willamette Valley. Linsey wants to use this summer experience to help communities develop storm water guidelines and management policies after graduation.
Other students are working in the landscaping industry to enhance their skills and network with professionals. Laura Culver is working for EO Landscaping drawing plans, using AutoCAD, for small residential projects throughout Eugene. Besides benefiting Laura, this position also frees EO Landscaping to focus on the construction of these projects instead of the design. While this is not an internship, this job allows Laura to practice her design and technical skills and network with landscape professionals.
Several students are also volunteering within their community in ways that enable them to use their design skills and build relationships. This summer Michael Weir, PMP, Student ASLA is designing a memorial garden pro bono. The garden will be located at Eugene’s Willamette High School to commemorate Eugene Police Officer Christopher Kilcullen, who was killed in the line of duty last April. The memorial will help the Eugene community find closure and help Mike gain valuable experience.
Finally, students are broadening their horizons through classes and travel. Despite the recent Fukushima nuclear disaster, Professor Ron Lovinger lead his annual trip to Kyoto, Japan this summer. Students participated in a five-week design studio, lived in the Zen monastery of Myoshin-ji and explored Japanese gardens. This experience has given students cultural insights and perspectives on international design.
This diversity of perspectives, whether through travel, volunteering, work, or an internship, has given students experience and hope for the future. Of the students I interviewed, none planned to pursue another profession after graduation. Instead, they are using their skills and talents to find niches and experiences both inside and outside the traditional boundaries of landscape architecture. This promises to help the next generation of landscape architects find jobs and carry the field into the future.