Career Discovery Highlighted During National Landscape Architecture Month and Beyond

Words: Bronzella Cleveland

Outreach to focus on underrepresented minorities

The U.S. population is becoming much more diverse — and the landscape architecture profession needs to keep pace with changing demographics. That is why, as part of National Landscape Architecture Month 2014, landscape architects will join across the country during the month of April to promote the landscape architecture profession to students, specifically underrepresented minorities.

With a 2014 theme of "Career Discovery," National Landscape Architecture Month provides a great opportunity to show students what landscape architects do, according to Mark A. Focht, FASLA, president of ASLA and first deputy commissioner of Philadelphia Parks and Recreation. This outreach includes a newly redesigned career discovery web page for students and new education hub for teachers to be launched in April.

"We want all students to know that landscape architecture is a welcoming, rewarding career that helps make our towns and cities better places to live," said Focht. "We want to mentor a future generation of landscape architects who will bring fresh, creative ideas to the table."

While landscape architecture is itself a minority profession — it employs just 21,600 people, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor — it is marked by homogeneity, the ASLA reports. The U.S. population will be much more racially and ethnically diverse by 2060, according to projections by the U.S. Census Bureau. The total minority population increased by 88 percent between 1980 and 2000, while the non-Hispanic white population grew by only 7.9 percent. Even so, the landscape architecture profession considerably underperforms against these numbers. In a recent ASLA survey of graduating landscape architecture students, nearly 84 percent of respondents were Caucasian, 12 percent were Asian or Pacific Islander, 6 percent answered Hispanic/Latino, 2 percent identified as an American Indian, while a mere 1 percent were African-American.

Nancy Somerville, Hon. ASLA, executive vice president and CEO of ASLA, said that ASLA's minority student outreach will continue beyond April. A key part of this outreach includes the creation of benchmarks to increase awareness of and early exposure to the landscape architecture profession, especially among African American and Latino students. Mentoring also will help diversity and enrich the landscape architecture profession.

"It's critical that we give all students an early start in learning about the landscape architecture profession," said Somerville. "National Landscape Architecture Month is the perfect time to turn the spotlight on education. It's clearly time to make a change."

National Landscape Architecture Month also encompasses Earth Day on April 22, along with the April 26 birthday of Frederick Law Olmsted (1822-1903), the father of American landscape architecture and the designer of New York City's Central Park and other iconic landscapes. In April 2015, it will be renamed World Landscape Architecture Month (WLAM), in recognition of the profession's global impact and to align with WLAM celebrations around the world.

To mark the month, the entire April issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine will be made available online for free.

Some of the events throughout National Landscape Architecture Month include:

  • Firm KTU+A will be sponsoring a "roundtable" discussion facilitated by The Daily Transcript in San Diego sometime in April.
  • Chapters will visit local schools and share personal career stories with students, and career introductory kits will be distributed to schools that do not have scheduled presentations.
  • A virtual celebration of Olmsted's birthday will take place Friday, April 25. Chapters will use social and traditional media to tweet, post and write about the value of landscape architecture for local communities. (#Olmsted).

Learn more at the National Landscape Architecture Month website.

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