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MSU students promote landscape architecture
By Karen Templeton
MSU Ag Communications
MISSISSIPPI STATE – A group of Mississippi State University students recently participated in a nationwide event to help educate others about the discipline and program they love.
On Aug. 17, landscape architects across the United States held approximately 175 simultaneous lunchtime events to inform the public about their discipline and the role they play in the environment. It did not take much convincing to get students from MSU’s Department of Landscape Architecture to participate in the event, sponsored by the American Society of Landscape Architects, or ASLA.
“There was no arm-twisting involved. The idea was presented to our student ASLA chapter, and they were all for it,” said Brian Templeton, an MSU Extension associate with the department. “We received generous funds from the state ASLA chapter and had plenty of enthusiasm from our students to move forward.”
On the day of the event, students put up signs around campus and donned “Ask Me About Landscape Architecture” buttons. They placed themselves strategically around the Old Main Pedestrian Plaza outside of the Colvard Student Union on campus and engaged other students and faculty in conversations about landscape architecture.
“There are misconceptions about what landscape architects do,” said Owen Harris, a senior landscape architecture student from Memphis, Tenn. “The discipline goes way beyond choosing plants for landscapes.”
Harris’ parents introduced him to gardening at an early age, and his interest in home landscape design led him to major in landscape architecture.
“Once I got into my classes, I realized what a wide range of opportunities are available in the field of landscape architecture,” Harris said.
Landscape architecture requires a multidisciplinary approach that includes environment and design. Landscape architects are different from other landscape professionals because landscape architects provide designs that meet clients’ needs and resolve their problems, while landscape contracting companies install and manage those designs.
Jennifer Coogler, a senior landscape architect student from Talladega, Ala., said her interest has always been in design but did not initially realize that landscape architecture was for her.
“My parents are horticulturists, so I’m familiar with plants and gardening, but design was what I really wanted to do, so I started out in architecture,” she said. “I soon realized that I was more interested in the landscape surrounding the buildings than I was in the buildings themselves.”
Coogler found her fit in MSU’s Department of Landscape Architecture and has not looked back. At the educational event, she informed other students about the career opportunities for which the department helps students prepare.
“Landscape architects are involved in wildlife restoration, community planning, green roof design, and parks and recreation,” she said. “When I started with the program, I was surprised to learn that landscape architects can do urban planning, street layouts and hardscape design. The field is just so diverse.”
The event also promoted ASLA’s “Your Environment. Designed” campaign, and students talked about the widespread impact of landscape architects.
“All of MSU’s campus was designed by landscape architects,” Harris said. “It is hard to go anywhere without running into the work of landscape architects.”
Templeton said the students had another motive for promoting landscape architecture.
“The students are proud of the department and saw the event as an opportunity to possibly recruit new students,” said Templeton, who is also the public relations chair for the state ASLA chapter. “They were successful in getting some students to consider enrolling in the program. They did a great job of garnering interest in the department.”
The event was a success and the student’s pride for what they do will continue throughout the year.
“They are the best spokespeople for the program and the discipline as a whole,” Templeton said. “They will continue to educate the public about the important role their work plays in the larger environment.”
For more information about landscape architecture, visit http://www.asla.org/design.