Last week, Rachel participated in one of the firm’s favorite programs, Explore Design. Sponsored by the Center for Architecture and Design, this educational outreach program asks design professionals to volunteer their time in an effort to teach youth about the different design professions.
In this particular session, a small group of professionals visited with a group of campers, who were attending the Topeka Zoo’s two-week environmental camp for teens who are interested in ecology, the outdoors, and conservation. The professionals gave a brief presentation about the landscape architecture profession and then, got into the main activity for the day: designing a new exhibit!
Campers gathered into teams and began unrolling base maps of the zoo. Over the course of a few hours, each team worked through the design process. As the students designed, the volunteers floated between the groups and offered encouragement and direction. Even though all teams were given the same site plan, their ideas for the space were so different. One group focused on sustainability and incorporated hydroponic gardens. Another transformed the site into a habitat for animals who like the cold. Rachel was most impressed by each group’s creativity and depth of knowledge about animal habitats.
At the end of the activity, each group presented their plan to the camp and received feedback. It was so amazing to see the work the campers put together. When she got back to the office, Rachel had this to say about the experience, “One of the most rewarding parts of our profession is giving back and sharing our experiences and knowledge with future generations.”
All photos courtesy of Michael Killeen