Growing up on a 14-acre ranch outside rural Woodburn, Oregon, gave Alexis Griffin (BLA ’18) a hands-on head start toward becoming a landscape architect. “I did landscaping for my neighbors. I fell into it randomly, and I was like, ‘yep, this feels right’.”
After attending community college for a year, Griffin transferred into the landscape architecture program at the UO where she took on several leadership and mentorship roles, including becoming an outreach coordinator for the student chapter of the Oregon American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA Oregon). “My goal as the coordinator was to reach out to undergrads,” she said. “I wanted to be there to help and support them and make sure they had resources available to them, but what I really did was become a familiar face to them.”
Her efforts paid off. Griffin won the 2017 ASLA student award. “It was really exciting to win, but I don’t think I could have done half as much as I’ve done without engaging with my cohort,” she said. Griffin noted two professors who also made a big impact: Mark Eisheid and Anne Godfrey. Godfrey, who is now an assistant professor in the College of Environmental Science and Forestry at SUNY, “was my first professor and instrumental in my growth as a designer and illustrator,” said Griffin. “But the professor who shaped the direction I want to go is Mark Eischeid. He is also a wonderful human being. I appreciated him so much.”
Griffin also worked as a courtyard assistant at the UO’s Museum of Natural and Cultural History, which not only provided her with valuable direct experience but set her on a clear path to success in the landscape architecture field. “This job shaped me as a designer but also helped me engage with my community,” she says. And because I was also involved in leadership that helped me prepare for independence in the future.”
A highlight of her UO experience says Griffin was spending a month in Waverly, Pennsylvania, at the Overlook Field School, run by the Fuller Center for Productive Landscapes, a living laboratory for exploring the role of place in cultural sustainability. Attendees were tasked with creating a landscape art installation using the theme of animals as landscape agents of change. “I created a kaleidoscope that bugs and other insects interacted with at night. It was so much fun.”
Griffin was recently hired by a local Eugene landscape architecture firm, where she is busy getting her feet wet and learning all she can. She continues to advance her leadership skills through the ASUO’s Center for the Advancement of Sustainable Living, where she has been serving as the president-director.
Eventually, Griffin says she would like to pursue a graduate degree in geography. The marriage between geography and landscape architecture would fit her plans for one day working on larger-scale systems and researching how humans and animals interact with them.
And although she says she is open to going anywhere her career leads her—maybe even Pennsylvania—wherever she ends up, she says she will always “love the green. I wouldn’t be the person I am without this college,” said Griffin. “It provides a lot of opportunities for people to grow and just figure out who [they] are. I was so happy to be a part of it. I’ve built a lot of strong relationships.”