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.