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Olmsted Scholars in New Orleans

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To honor our 2016 Olmsted Scholars, LAF held a series of events in New Orleans on October 20-21. Forty of this year’s 76 Olmsted Scholars traveled from across the U.S. and Canada, with some coming from as far as Peru and Portugal to participate. Top landscape architecture students are nominated to the Olmsted Scholars Program by their faculty for demonstrating exceptional leadership potential.

The Olmsted Scholars Luncheon kicked off the first days’ events, giving the scholars the opportunity to meet each other, the LAF Board of Directors, Board Emeriti, staff, and program sponsors. The luncheon program included an certificate ceremony and a short presentation from 2010 National Olmsted Scholar Emily Vogler (Assistant Professor, Rhode Island School of Design) who discussed the her latest research and prototyping efforts to both support and reveal the process of coastal restoration within the urban context. Presentations from our 2016 National Olmsted Scholars, Azzurra Cox (MLA, Harvard Graduate School of Design) and Casey Howard (BLA, University of Oregon), concluded the program.

Azzurra, winner of the $25,000 graduate prize, presented her research and on-going work to develop a vision for the revival of Greenwood Cemetery, an endangered heritage landscape that was the first non‚Äźdenominational commercial cemetery for African Americans in the St. Louis area. Casey, winner of the $15,000 undergraduate prize, shared her first-place team project for the 2015 Biomimicry Global Design Challenge focused on food systems. Inspired by existing drainage technology used in agriculture, Casey and team developed a concept for a living filtration system to restore soil health, protect watersheds, and preserve productive lands.

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Following the luncheon, the scholars participated in a facilitated Leadership Conversation with LAF Board Emeritius members, discussing how to continue to pursue their passions, stay accountable, and keep motivated as they transition from school to the workforce. Through facilitated calls over the course of the next year, these conversations will continue allowing the scholars to share goals, stories and experiences with a network of peers. These dialogues are part of LAF’s ongoing effort to build leadership capacity and strengthen the community of the now 468 Olmsted Scholars named since 2008.

To round out the day, the 2016 Olmsted Scholars ventured across town for an office visit at Spackman Mossop and Michaels, an international landscape architecture and urban design firm with offices in both Sydney, Australia and New Orleans. The scholars met with firm Directors Elizabeth Mossop and Wes Michaels to discuss some of their current projects in vacant land management, stormwater design, and urban revitalization in New Orleans, Detroit, and Chattanooga.

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The events culminated with LAF’s 31st Annual Benefit at the historic Civic Theatre in New Orleans. Olmsted Scholars mixed and mingled with their peers and over 500 other Benefit attendees. In addition to recognizing the scholars, the program featured the public unveiling of the  New Landscape Declaration with a live reading by outgoing LAF President, Kona Gray. Guests also enjoyed live music from New Orleans jazz legend Kermit Ruffins & the Barbecue Swingers.

Thank you to the generous Olmsted Scholars Program sponsors whose support makes the financial awards and events like these possible. Photos from this year’s Olmsted Scholars Luncheon and LAF’s 31st Annual Benefit can be found on LAF’s Flickr Photostream.

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