ASLA’s involvement at your University

Landscape Architecture for Landscape Architects Forums EDUCATION ASLA’s involvement at your University

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    Zach Watson

    Granted it is a little difficult to know and understand how involved ASLA is involved at my University, because we are between semesters, but I’m just wondering how involved your school’s affiliate chapter was at your University.

    Doug Prouty

    Zach our student chapter at UNLV was and still is very involved with the local Southern Nevada ASLA Chapter. Many of us established great relationships with our future coleagues and bosses and I believe that it helped in finding a job with the right firm. The chapter meetings continue to be a great place to meet and discuss projects and what’s going on outside of the office.

    Unfortunately I haven’t been too involved with the local Phoenix chapter as I should have been and this year I’m making it a point to get more involved. Not only to get to know more LA’s in the valley but to see where we are heading as a group and to see how we can help in shaping our own destiny in Arizona and elsewhere as well as to see where our services could be used outside of the typical design realm that we’ve gotten comfortable in.

    I’m hoping that with the ASLA convention coming to Phoenix in 2012, the convention may spawn a new interest in attendence and help bring more of us together.

    Brent Jacobsen

    Hi Zach – are you curious about how local ASLA chapters work with University chapters, or how university chapters function? I noticed also that you are in Arizona – are you going to ASU?

    I just graduated last year from the University of Arizona, and can comment some on our ASLA situation. I felt like ASLA involvement at my university was pretty strong, but had some issues maintaining effective lines of communication. How well we integrated with, and actually communicated with the Arizona-ASLA Chapter, really varied year to year. I definitely feel that the AZ-ASLA Chapter is a great supporter of both the ASU and the U of A programs (not only do they provide financial support for students traveling to ASLA National, they also sponsor different student award programs). However, we often never heard about deadlines for these programs, or received notification a day before a submittal deadline. Fortunately, initiatives have been underway the past few years to create a better communication link between the professional chapter and the U of A chapter, but I can’t comment and whether they are better this year.

    As for our student chapter, I feel like it does a great job of promoting student activities, ongoing education opportunities, and networking, although I can’t compare how robust we are to another university. I am sure there are even stronger chapters elsewhere. But, we usually have a number of brown bag lunches where students, faculty, alums, or professionals come in to talk about different topics of interest such as ongoing projects, research, travel, or an inside look at an office. We also have a number of social activities to hang out and relax together, and sponsor our own student design showcase every spring. With the downturn in the economy, though, I have noticed a big drop-off in our ability to bring firms to campus to talk about their work, recruit for jobs, etc. Most of them just aren’t able to spare the time.

    And, I always thought there was a real lack of integration between the ASU and U of A student chapters. We never did any events together (despite being 1.5 hours apart), nor communicated as far as I know while I was at the U of A. The few times we would meet would be at the AZ-ASLA Gala when students received awards, or at the Merit / Honor Award presentations.

    Zach Watson

    Thanks for the information, like I said because spring semester doesn’t start for another week and a half I don’t have a good reference as to how effective ASU’s chapter is, but I want to get involved this semester, because I didn’t hear anything about it fall semester. What I have heard from the students involved with the AIAS chapter here, they have said that they don’t really meet and don’t do much, which I think is disappointing.

    I created a group for our chapter here at the lounge and sent an invite to the president of our chapter, thinking it could be a positive resource and have not heard anything from here as of yet. As I look into it this semester I’m going to see all of what they are doing and seeing how involved I can be, I might contact either of you and see if you have any suggestions on how we could make the chapter better because you both have more experience in the process then I do. Given the economy I see it as a possible source of networking with others and really needs to be utilized more then ever.

    I did not know this but am excited to hear that the ASLA meeting is going to be here in Phoenix in 2012!

    Thanks for the information because I had gotten a little discouraged that I never heard anything here in the valley.

    Brent Jacobsen

    No problem – definitely feel free to contact me. I am happy to help if I can, and can also put you touch with the current U of A student ASLA president if you want to talk to her at all. Student ASLA can be a great resource and opportunity, though, so I highly encourage getting involved and promoting it at ASU. Admittedly, the challenge for most student chapters is that it is ultimately a reflection of what people put into it. So, much like a local ASLA chapter, Student ASLA’s success rests on the willingness of members to invest their personal energy and time into it as volunteers. And, as students with full course loads, part-time jobs, etc., it can be tough for people to make it a priority.

    At U of A, we have tried to disperse the workload as much as possible over a group of representatives on the leadership board, but I know it can still sometimes be a (thankless) burden for those students who decide to do it. However, when we have members and officers willing to make things happen, I found it to be an unmatched resource for students to broaden their school experience, advocate for needs, and connect with professionals. If you are interested, here is the link to the U of A Chapter website – it is something still in the works (we built it for the first time last year, and are still trying to improve it, complete pages, and maintain it properly), but it gives you an idea of some of the initiatives we have tried to implement there and our chapter structure.

    Let me know if I can help at all, and definitely get in touch with your ASU reps and the AZ ASLA Chapter representatives. They are usually really great people, and interested in meeting students and helping them accomplish things.

    Good luck.

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