MLA Student Selected as a Finalist in the 2021 Olmstead Scholars Program

June 1, 2021
MLA student Taylor Davis (MLA '21) a finalist in the Landscape Architecture Foundation's 2021 Olmstead Scholars Program
Taylor Davis Headshot

The Landscape Architecture Foundation (LAF) has announced that Master of Landscape Architecture student Taylor Davis (MLA ’21) has been named as a finalist in LAF’s 2021 Olmstead Scholars Program. Now in its 14th year, the Olmstead Scholars Program is the premier leadership recognition program for landscape architecture students, recognizing those who are using ideas, influence, communication, service, and leadership to advance sustainable design and foster human and societal benefits.

Taylor is one of only six students selected as an Olmstead Scholars finalist, based on her project proposal, faculty nomination, and Taylor’s commitment to increasing the influence and impact of the field. Associate Professor Mirka Benes nominated Taylor for the program and mentored her throughout the application process:  

“Taylor’s leadership resonates throughout the School of Architecture community and beyond,” Benes said. “Inherent in it is that she is direct and matter-of-fact, yet deeply thoughtful, with a broad compassion and humanity that reflects her understanding that design takes place in a community setting, and is not just the waving of a wand by one individual.” 

As part of her application, Taylor proposed the development of a landscape architecture enrichment program designed to introduce BIPOC youth to the field. As she put it:

“If landscape architects want to increase their impact, we must start with the recruitment and introduction of Black youth and students to this field. Today, only 3% of practitioners are Black and BLA and MLA programs show only 4.4% and 2.7% of Black student enrollment respectively. A goal of mine has been to develop a curriculum that can be brought into schools as early as middle school and will introduce the concept of landscape architecture to young Black minds.

“The funds from this scholarship will be dedicated to the creation of a Landscape Architecture enrichment program that may be implemented for students as early as 6th grade. From my experience attending and working in public schools, I have identified three opportunities for integrating principles of Landscape Architecture into primary education curricula: school gardens, art education and science. As young people, students have a unique view of outdoor spaces because they engage with them differently than adults. By harnessing this perspective, this curriculum would allow students to build a knowledge of plant science and basic gardening skills, learn hand drafting and sketching, be introduced to CAD and other modeling programs and create physical models and problem solve issues unique to their lived experience.”

To learn more about Taylor, her passions, and her experience as a UTSOA student, check out our in-depth Q&A with Taylor earlier this semester. Congratulations Taylor!