Product News by Forms + Surfaces, Victor Stanley, ANOVA, and Topos

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ASLA Presidential Candidates Forum Question 1: The Society’s Challenges

David M. Cutter, ASLA

Candidate for 2019 President-elect

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing the Society, and how should leadership address it?

While there are various challenges facing our Society, many have a common basis in the need to grow our community – in numbers, in diversity, and in reach. The greatest asset of any professional organization is its members. As a member, you are the most important source of our ideas, values, influence, funding, and leadership. ASLA’s membership has held consistently at just over 15,000 for the last five years, but there’s at least that many students, graduates, and professionals in landscape architecture that are not members. We probably all know someone that could be a member. Often all it takes is a leader like you to help them recognize that their participation and contribution to the Society would be valued and to ask them to join our community. To grow, we need effective communication not only to members, but engaging those who influence potential members, from firm principals and academic leaders to prospective students and those struggling to grow their career. As national leaders, we must provide the talking points, tools, and incentives for our members to communicate effectively.

But growing our community is not just about more members; we also need to diversify our membership and relate to landscape architects in all types and stages of careers. It all starts with career discovery and recruitment. Our national leadership and staff continue to develop new tools and models that speak to students of color and underrepresented groups, but we need every chapter to use them to market landscape architecture to our next generation. Once we spark their interest, we must make the road to the profession more attractive and accessible. This includes being recognized as a STEM/STEAM profession and expanding opportunities for community college, online, summer, and part-time study to contribute to an accredited degree. Providing more mentorship, job shadowing, internships, work study, and scholarships will improve retention and transition into the profession. We need to support each other as a Society, engaging practitioners with educators, students, and emerging professionals so that we all can benefit from the power of working together as part of the larger landscape architecture community.

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