David Ireland from Ireland Albrecht Landscape Architects and Charlotte Cremers from the University of Sheffield’s Landscape Department reflect on their experience on promoting the profession to schools.
I attended the schools careers fair at Harrogate Grammar School on 12th November with Charlotte Cremers from Sheffield University. My three children studied at the school, and have all left recently, so I was familiar with the premises, Head and Staff. The fair was set up in three rooms with each company having their own stand– we were there to promote the profession and the University’s landscape courses. At our stall we handed out university prospectuses along with the Landscape Institute’s new ‘Be a Landscape Architect’ brochure, which is attractive, punchy, and is not too big, along with a selection of colour A3 prints of current schemes from our practice –Ireland Albrecht which showed a selection of park improvement plans, sketch up views, local playgrounds, housing developments, and hand drawn sections.
There seemed to be far more adults than students at the fair and the parents were more talkative than students as you would expect. I did find that talking to parents was a useful way in to engage the quiet students. A few parents knew of landscape architecture, but no students I spoke to seemed to know about it. I stressed the importance of following something you were naturally interested in: outdoors, gardens, countryside, art, drawing, photography. Over the course of the evening I spoke to about three interested pupils who were all studying art plus other subjects – they were all interested in drawing / design/ being creative and they were interested in how we created the drawings I brought along which was great.
My advice for ambassadors who are looking to attend careers fair is to arrive early and take a commercial view of how the stall can be best presented. The position of your stall is likely to be pre-determined, and it may be frustrating that you may be easily bypassed or at the end of a long circuit, but if you make your stall visually attractive there is more chance people will take notice. Our stand had a tall University of Sheffield banner which made people notice our stall and our message; without it we may not have been noticed as the room was busy and visitors often are not able to see what is laid out on the table.
I signed up to be a Landscape Ambassador because, like several other adults I spoke to at the evening, I chose the wrong ‘A’ levels and embarked on the wrong degree course for me when I was 17/18 and I remember it being a really miserable time. I was lucky that my best friend studied Landscape at Leeds Poly after he saw a talk at school from their Landscape Department: seeing the interesting work he was doing made me realise that was what I wanted. Luckily I was able to change course…..and keep a full grant.
I think some young people need someone to help them focus on what their natural interests are and what they lean towards, rather than just what subjects they like at school or what appears to be cool at the time. As someone said recently ‘the trick is to understand what you are really interested in and then find someone who will pay you to do it’.
The University of Sheffield, Department of Landscape is on a quest to raise awareness for Landscape Architecture as a profession. In the first semester, 7 schools were visited and at least the same amount of visits is planned for the second semester. During two of these visits, members of the LI joined us and experienced the enthusiasm and interest people showed as soon as they’d hear more about landscape architecture.
When I go to these events and speak to children and parents it immediately gives me confidence that Landscape Architecture is in demand. People soon understand that Landscape Architects impact their lives on a daily basis through clever designs that are aimed to improve individual health and well-being, encourage community development and look after our planet.
Are you based in the Sheffield area and would like to help the University of Sheffield promote landscape architecture? Please get in touch with our Education Development Officer, Poppy Smith on PoppyS@landscapeinstitite.org who can provide more information.