Summer 2013

Working Life

Jay Blasi BS’00 Landscape Architecture

Jay Blasi started doodling golf course designs on placemats when he was eight years old. He began researching the field in high school, and since enrolling in the landscape architecture program at CALS, he hasn’t looked back. He now runs Jay Blasi Design, a golf architecture firm dedicated to creating, restoring or renovating courses. One of his greatest accomplishments was being part of the team that designed the Chambers Bay course in Washington state, which will host the U.S. Open in 2015. He is one of the youngest contributing golf architects to design a U.S. Open course, a dream of his since high school. To top it off, Jay and his wife, Amy, who met while working on the project, were married a few years ago on the 15th hole.

Erin Crain MS’99 Landscape Architecture

Whether she’s hiking, gardening or hunting for turkey, Erin Crain has a passion for the outdoors, so it makes sense that she found her professional calling with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. She serves as director of the Bureau of Endangered Resources, where she is responsible for inventorying, monitoring, research and management regarding rare and non-game species in Wisconsin. “I’m able to make a difference in protecting Wisconsin’s natural resources as well as supporting the people who work in our program. I wouldn’t trade this job for anything,” says Crain.

Brian Fluno BS’97 Landscape Architecture

Brian Fluno was drawn to landscape architecture because of the discipline’s blend of science, horticulture and art, he says. As a licensed landscape architect, Fluno has worked on the design, drafting and supervision of many corporate, business, mixed-use and residential projects. He joined The Brickman Group, Ltd., where he currently works as an account manager, upon graduating from CALS. “I liked the creative aspect of the profession and also the forward-thinking aspect of planning for how a space will be used in the future,” Fluno says. He remains deeply committed to the CALS community. Recently Fluno completed a six-year term on the board of the Wisconsin Agricultural and Life Sciences Alumni Association (WALSAA), including one year as board president.

Paul Gobster MS’83 Landscape Architecture

As a research social scientist with the USDA Forest Service’s Northern Research Station in Evanston, Illinois, Paul Gobster examines how people perceive, experience and value nature in urban settings, providing environmental managers with the information they need to optimally serve a diverse range of city stakeholders. In his last year at CALS Gobster helped organize a forum on the Wisconsin Idea, a concept that has influenced the way he works. “My UW experience taught me the value of interdisciplinary learning and the importance of linking knowledge to practice in solving real-world problems,” he says.

Gobster serves as co-editor-in-chief of Landscape and Urban Planning, a leading international scholarly journal of landscape science, and as an adjunct lecturer in the environmental policy and culture program at Northwestern University. This past spring Gobster was named a Distinguished Alumnus by the Department of Landscape Architecture in recognition of his contributions to the field over the past 30 years.

Rich Henderson MS’81 Landscape Architecture

As an ecologist with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Rich Henderson conducts research on habitat and natural area management, fire ecology, invasive terrestrial species, and species of greatest conservation need, especially those in southern and western Wisconsin. He is motivated by a deep desire to retain and recover the most reduced and threatened portions of our natural environment for current and future generations to enjoy. In addition to his work with the DNR, Henderson served as president of The Prairie Enthusiasts and as the leader of several projects with The Nature Conservancy.

Lance Neckar MA’81 Landscape Architecture

Lance Neckar is the founding faculty director of the Robert Redford Conservancy for Southern California Sustainability at Pitzer College, where he integrates the concept of sustainability into a multidisciplinary approach to understanding and reimagining our human-made surroundings, he says. “The landscape architecture program at CALS offered me the chance to be mentored by great faculty who launched several of the trajectories of my career,” says Neckar. An example? He serves as co-editor of Landscape Journal, which was founded by his CALS mentor, emeritus landscape architecture professor Arnold Alanen.

Pat Richter BS’64 Landscape Architecture

Before he became UW–Madison’s athletic director; before he was commemorated with a bronze statue at Camp Randall; before he joined the Washington Redskins and was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame, the Academic All-America Hall of Fame, the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame and the Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame; before he served as VP–Personnel at Oscar Mayer Foods; and before he went to law school, Pat Richter majored in landscape architecture at CALS.

“I’ve always been interested in the design aspects of both architecture and landscape architecture,” says Richter, who brought his love of sports into the mix by studying golf course architecture as well. After joining the NFL Richter spent several off seasons working at the landscape architecture firm T.D. Donovan and Associates, which at the time also employed CALS professor emeritus Darrel Morrison.

Richter remembers his years at CALS as being among the best of his life. And in his retirement he pursues his continuing interest in art and design. When his eight grandchildren aren’t keeping him busy, he spends time creating glass fusion and stone sculptures.

Rodney Walter MS’00 Landscape Architecture

While majoring in landscape architecture at UW–Madison, Rodney Walter made a point of taking as many field ecology classes as possible. The hands-on education he received gave him a great appreciation for the diversity and complexity of Wisconsin’s natural areas and led him to a career as director of habitat protection for the Wisconsin chapter of The Nature Conservancy. Walter chose this field, he says, because he wanted to work outdoors in a way that would respect and preserve the natural world rather than consume it. “The best part of my work is when I get to work directly with the landowners that the Conservancy is working with to protect their land and spend time seeing some of the best parts of Wisconsin,” he says.

Susan Weiler BS’79 Landscape Architecture

Susan Weiler is a partner at Philadelphia-based OLIN, a landscape architecture and urban design firm with an international practice. “We create places that enhance life: human, animal, natural and city life—that’s what we try to do every day,” says Weiler, describing her work. She loves working with artists and seeing the integration of art and landscape. She is currently working on an installation with artist Janet Echelman to transform Dilworth Plaza in front of Philadelphia’s city hall into a sustainable, accessible, green public space, she says. Her mantra is, “If you love what you do, you never have to work a day in your life.”

Barbara Wyatt BS’89 Landscape Architecture

Historic preservation and landscape architecture have always been close to Barbara Wyatt’s heart. Growing up, she spent time designing garden spaces at her family’s 18th-century farm and researching the farm’s history. That personal interest led her to a career in historic preservation, with a special focus on landscape issues. She worked in the Wisconsin state historic preservation office and later had a landscape research/design consulting practice based in Madison. For the past several years she has worked for the National Park Service as staff for the National Register of Historic Places and National Historic Landmarks (NHL) programs. In that position she reviews National Register nominations from seven states, including Wisconsin, and works on special NHL projects, such as editing the Japanese Americans in World War II Theme Study. She is currently chairing an initiative to improve and increase National Register listings concerned with landscapes. Her work in historic preservation came full circle when the farmhouse in which she grew up, now her home, was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

About In the Field

These alumni represent the depth and breadth of alumni accomplishments. Selections are made by Grow staff and are intended to reflect a sample of alumni stories. It is not a ranking or a comprehensive list. To read more about CALS alumni, go to

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