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ASLA Presidential Candidates Forum Question 3: Emily O’Mahoney, FASLA

Emily O’Mahoney, FASLA

How can ASLA enhance its relevance for early career professionals and students? How can ASLA continue to be THE association of landscape architects? How do we create that culture? Let us start first with the students enrolled in our landscape architecture programs. If they understand the relevancy of ASLA while in school, and become engaged, there will be an easier and more natural transition for them to continue as they enter the next stage of their career. How do we achieve this?

Many years ago, while at school, my professors educated my class on the relevance and importance of a strong ASLA. They instilled a sense of responsibility in us. A responsibility to protect and advance the profession of landscape architecture. They preached the virtues of ASLA and how it is the only organization that has been protecting and advancing the profession since 1899. While today’s educational climate may be different, we still need to instill the message that ASLA is the heart of the profession.  Our academic institutions provide an excellent education and formal introduction to the profession while serving as a great influence. We need educators and chapter membership to engage with students and show them how important the Society is to the profession. 

One of the more successful programs ASLA has initiated is free membership for students. This initiative has opened the doors to over 3,000 new student members! It is now our responsibility to fully engage them, so they understand the benefits and relevance of membership. One of the greatest opportunities for student engagement is through the Mentorship Program that was started last year in conjunction with the free membership. This inclusionary program is like a welcome mat to ASLA, where students are matched up with member mentors. I have the honor to work with two mentees and you can bet they both have a greater understanding of ASLA. I have also gained insight into our future landscape architects and how ASLA might better serve their needs. 

The Mentorship Program may start with students, but the relationships can last for years until the mentee becomes mentor to the next generation of students, continuing the cycle. This program can serve both students and emerging professionals alike, but we need more mentors!  We also have many other programs to engage early career professionals. The LARE Prep sessions are a major draw, and more cost effective if one is a member. Additionally, ASLA is on the brink of announcing a new virtual conference/workshop series geared for the emerging and mid-career level landscape architect called Skill | Ed.  As the name implies, these programs will be more technical in nature. The first event will be on business management and contract writing.  These are the kind of initiatives that will make membership more attractive and relevant to our early career professionals. 

As President, I will strive to have ASLA develop and reinforce programs which support students, emerging professionals, and all other members with the goal of increasing inclusion, membership, and engagement.  

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