LAND President-Elect Candidate Forum: Question 3

LAND Forum Question 3: What does ASLA have to offer emerging professionals?


Robert J. Golde, FASLA

With increasing professional responsibilities, a perpetual shortage of personal time, and financial stresses exacerbated by student loans, it is no surprise that engaging emerging professionals as active participants in the ASLA can be challenging. So how can the ASLA help younger professionals advance their careers while coping with these pressures? For starters, ASLA provides a broad framework for professional development that enables landscape architects to hone their own unique talents in the direction of their own choosing by offering opportunities for education, mentorship, networking, and advocacy.

The educational resources available through the ASLA are extensive including publication of technical innovations in LATIS, , emerging trends explored monthly in Landscape Architecture Magazine, LARE review courses, SITES® training, and continuing education through online PPN webinars. Over 130 continuing education sessions are offered at the Annual Meeting and EXPO alone. Attendance at this gathering can provide an overload of professional stimulus together with tremendous insight into where the profession is headed in the future. Helpful as it may be to the seasoned practitioner, this kind of information is vital to anyone starting out in the profession.

Much deeper insight can be gained by actively participating in the various national and chapter committees and professional practice networks. With the collective body of knowledge that resides in their participants there are few better mentoring opportunities available anywhere in the profession.

As witnessed by the explosion of online networking sites, a strong professional network has become a required asset for future career moves. Social media, however, has its limits. Nothing can replace developing relationships based on face-to-face personal connections. Being the world’s largest community of landscape architects the ASLA offers unparalleled opportunities for networking, whether on the national or local level, through advocacy, outreach, or social events.

The simple way a professional organization addresses their next generation of practitioners can also enable change for the better. The AIA recently adopted a policy promoting use of the term “design professional” or “architectural associate” in lieu word “intern” by its members. I think they are on to something here. For years, a sort of caste system has existed within the design industry. This subtle change signals a more inclusive attitude toward the newest members of the industry that should be embraced by all design professionals.

Similarly, within our own organization the Board of Trustees, recognizing the need to address the changing priorities of emerging professionals and better include them in setting goals and objectives for the organization, has established an Associate Advisory Committee comprised of young professionals charged with directly advising the board on matters of relevance to them. It is far too soon to judge how well this is working but, as the nature of our profession has been undergoing a steady change over time, so too has our membership, and the ASLA must reflect that change. Like the AIA, in order to evolve into a more welcoming, nurturing, and relevant organization the ASLA is bolstering its efforts to engage its talent base of emerging professionals.

Shawn T. Kelly, FASLA

Everything and nothing.

ASLA is no better than the people who are involved: professional volunteers, members, and our staff. Each of these groups is critical to the mission of ASLA: service to the profession. Without any one of these three parties, there is no ASLA.

The founders of the ASLA named this Society very carefully and accurately: The American Society of Landscape Architects. The professionals are the reason for the Society. These professionals produce the members and leaders/volunteers who work for our combined good. Each generation of leaders stands on the shoulders of those who came before and did their best for our profession. The combined product of these personal investments is the Society which we now enjoy. We have the benefit of a committed full time staff who are absolutely invested in our success. We now have the ASLA Center for Landscape Architecture in Washington, D.C., that will be used as a showcase for our profession. We have an established presence in the legislative agenda in D.C., as well as in most states. Our licenses protect the health, safety, and welfare of the public. We are building awareness of our works and their benefits to human kind and the environment.

All of the above can disappear without the active engagement of the emerging professionals, for they are the next leaders of our profession. Much good work has been done to enable this group to move our collective agenda forward. ASLA is the vehicle to make this reality a bright future for our profession, and by association, the environment. My concern is that, for too long, much has been done by the few for the benefit of the many. It is very easy for emerging professionals to take for granted the mandate of their engagement. I encourage every professional in practice of any form to make it a priority to engage their young staff in the work to be done beyond the office. We are responsible for bringing this reality to the next leaders. Our teachers should communicate the importance of the Society to the professional occupation that lies before their students. The engaged membership of our Society has produced all the legislation for Landscape Architects in the United States. All of our practice acts and title acts are the product of our organizing body, the ASLA, and state Chapters, realized through the actions of our members.

I prefer to think of what we offer our emerging professionals is the opportunity to make this professional practice their own and forge the next and evolving character of our collective practice. These emerging professionals have opportunities for success that were created by everyone who proceeded them. They, in turn, will produce the next critical actions that will move our profession forward into a bright reality.


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