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Olmsted Scholar Feature: Presidential Management Fellows Program

by Lauren Lesch Marshall, 2010 Olmsted Scholar

In the United States, the Federal Government owns nearly 30% of the land, totaling approximately 650 million acres, and working as a Landscape Architect in the federal realm means having an impact on this huge footprint. Landscape Architects in the federal realm work on a wide breadth of issues, including but not limited to landscape design, construction oversight, project planning, land use planning, sustainable recreation planning, ecological restoration planning and implementation, and national program management and coordination.

It was this breadth of opportunity that drew me to federal service, a career pathway I entered through the Presidential Management Fellows (PMF) program in June of this year. The PMF, which is open to those finishing graduate school, is a competitive program designed to recruit future leaders to public service. It offers accelerated promotion potential and career development through trainings and rotation opportunities where you can “test out” other jobs and parts of the country. Historically the program has not drawn a high number of landscape architects as applicants, but this is a trend I hope to see reverse over the next several years; our ability to reach across disciplines and think holistically makes us ideal national leaders and excellent candidates for the program.

I work out of the Washington Office of the U.S. Forest Service, and my PMF experience thus far has included engagement in a variety of national policies and programs. I work on primarily collaborative planning issues, including assisting in the management of a restoration program that allocated $10 million dollars to national forests for restoration work this year. I am also helping to enhance the way that national forests work with partners to plan across borders. On my upcoming rotation, which is required by the program and will last from four to six months, I will hopefully be working on a national forest out west. While my supervisor and I are in the early planning stage for this opportunity, I hope that my rotation will give me an opportunity to flex my site design muscles through on-the-ground restoration and recreation projects.

After graduating from the University of Michigan in May with a Masters in Landscape Architecture, Lauren became a Presidential Management Fellow with the U.S. Forest Service in Washington, D.C. She works as a part of a team to manage a landscape scale restoration program, enhance open space conservation, and publicize the key role Landscape Architects play in the public realm.

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