Charleston, W.Va. (Aug. 17, 2023) – The West Virginia Nursery & Landscape Association
(WVNLA) registered its “strong disapproval” to leaders at West Virginia University (WVU) for its
proposed elimination of bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in Landscape Architecture
and the reduction of staff in Soil and Plant Sciences from 21 to 10 people.
Julie Robinson, executive director of WVNLA, wrote a letter to Peter Butler, Director of WVU’s
School of Community Development and Design, and Elizabeth (Lisa) Orr, Landscape
Architecture Program Coordinator asking them to convey the association members’ request for
reconsideration to decision makers at WVU. “WVNLA has provided significant support and
financial assistance through the years, largely because we seek to promote green industry
careers and professionalism throughout the state,” said Robinson. The association is also
circulating a petition seeking support for continuation of the Landscape Architecture and Plant
and Soil Science education and outreach programs.
The WVNLA letter cited strong industry and home state support for the WVU academic
programs. “As the state’s flagship, land-grant university, WVU should be supporting the
enrollment of in-state students, not driving them away.”
The loss of West Virginia’s only accredited Landscape Architecture program will inevitably lead
to West Virginia students leaving the state to study landscape architecture. These students are
not likely to return to West Virginia, to the detriment of in-state engineering, architecture and
landscape companies who would employ them.”
The letter continued:
“In the last ten years, WVNLA has contributed in excess of $60,000 to the Landscape
Architecture and Horticulture programs for student travel for national competitions and
horticultural tours throughout Europe; the development of a master landscape plan for the
Evansdale campus as designed by Landscape Architecture students; and a book scholarship,
among other projects.
WVNLA’s board members voted to fund these projects because they believe these programs
provide vital experiences and education for students in the Landscape Architecture and
Horticulture programs. These graduates go on to create designs which landscape and
engineering companies use to create effective, safe and attractive spaces throughout West
Virginia and beyond. These projects also provide employment opportunities.
In the last ten years, WVNLA has also provided 16 scholarships for Landscape Architecture and
Horticulture at WVU. The total of these scholarships was $65,000.
Robinson said state and federal economic statistics show the nursery and landscape industry in
the state and related employment has grown and will continue to expand through 2026. “That
is why WVNLA has been building more academic and workforce development initiatives to
support jobs and local economies,” she said.
Robinson said WVNLA’s workforce development and scholarship support in all parts of the
Mountain State are boosting the green economy and enhancing the pipeline of talented skilled
workers and entrepreneurs in nursery and landscaping. “The green economy and our youth
deserve better,” said Robinson.