SHARON FOWLER, RLA, ASLA
What inspired you to choose your career path?
When I went to Iowa State University, my counselors advised me to major in Computer Science and Business because I had a strong math background. While sketching/doodling between classes one day, someone saw what I was sketching and recommended I take an art class. I went to what was a new College of Design Building at the time and took Architecture 101, which was basically free hand drawing and perspective drawing. The professor complimented my work in front of the class and I was astounded since I hadn’t taken art classes before. My work was displayed in the lobby of the College of Design and I knew I was meant for a design related field.
After reviewing majors in the College of Design, I connected best with Landscape Architecture. Master Planning large tracts of land, learning about architecture, engineering, and the environment was fascinating to me.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
There are a lot of things that I enjoy about my job. I love working with a variety of people who all bring different talents and value to projects and experiences. I feel very fortunate to have found the field of landscape architecture because it provides me with an opportunity to work on so many aspects of development. Creating quality places and seeing them built is an awesome thing to be able to do.
What are you most passionate about?
It may sound cliché, but I truly am passionate about my work. I was so lucky to find what I love to do that I put my all into any project I am lucky enough to be a part of. On a personal note, I absolutely love to travel anywhere, especially the National Parks. I can’t take enough pictures and really appreciate the beauty in nature.
What is your greatest challenge?
My greatest work related challenge is explaining the field of landscape architecture. It is common for people to be confused about the profession because of the title. I feel it should have been called land architecture because we typically design the entire site with landscape design being a part, but not all, of the design process.
My greatest personal challenge is finding time to do everything that I love to do.
Name an important “lessons learned” moment you have experienced.
I don’t have one single important lessons learned moment, but I will say that I have learned that thorough documentation is invaluable. The overall policy I have had throughout my career is to document everything, or nearly everything. We are all human and we can forget what was said at a meeting or at a jobsite. I have been in meetings where people had completely different memories of what was decided. I have written countless meeting summaries and construction observation reports and they have not only helped me but my clients as well.