CSU selected as new partner for national sustainable landscaping program

Colorado State University has been named the new institutional partner for Landscape For Life, a program that provides education on sustainable landscaping practices.

Developed in 2011 by the United States Botanic Garden and the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at the University of Texas at Austin, Landscape For Life is based on the principles of the Sustainable Sites Initiatives.

The program will continue to be in partnership with the USBG and will be offered by CSU Extension, a division of CSU’s Office of Engagement and Extension.

“USBG is thrilled to collaborate with CSU to continue Landscape for Life and the important work of teaching people about sustainable gardening at home,” said Susan Pell, USBG acting executive director. “CSU’s commitment to sustainability through action and education make for a great fit for this program. We look forward to working together to expand knowledge, access and resources for sustainable gardening practices across the country.”

“We are proud to be part of the program’s history and are pleased that CSU will foster its future,” said Lee Clippard, executive director of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. “What began as an initiative to deliver education on sustainable gardening practices has grown into an opportunity to inspire lasting impact and change.”

For over 10 years, Landscape For Life has provided resources and training opportunities for people interested in climate-resilient landscaping techniques for any size garden, farm or common area. While conventional gardens can work against nature, sustainable gardens are supportive of natural ecosystems and conserve resources. They enhance the environment’s ability to clean air and water, reduce flooding, combat climate change and provide other natural benefits that support life on earth.

Landscape For Life uses these benefits as core themes and areas of focus for the course curriculum. The program also teaches foundational principles of Sustainable Sites Initiatives, the nation’s first comprehensive rating system designed to distinguish sustainable landscapes and measure their performance.

CSU Extension assumed responsibility for management, stewardship, growth and ownership of the program in May 2022. The first charge of the new CSU-USBG partnership will be updating content to ensure the latest, science-based research remains core to the curriculum, followed by improving in-depth learning opportunities through accessible online programming and in-person training in Colorado.

Through leveraging the institution’s experience and expertise in creating scalable learning platforms, mixed with strong, national Cooperative Extension network connections, CSU plans to address audiences nationwide. Longer-term, higher-priority goals for the program place an emphasis on language justice with an initiative to translate course content into Spanish, in both written and live translation.

“We are excited to build on the work started by the USBG and the Wildflower Center, and bring CSU’s resources into this next stage of the program,” said Blake Naughton, vice president for CSU’s Office of Engagement and Extension. “Partnerships like this are fundamental to engagement where together, we increase the value we bring to individuals, industries and communities.”

To be responsive to different learning styles, personalized education tracks are in development. Course modality will include options like free online content, modular online courses and customized, fee-based training delivered either online or in-person.

Based on the learner’s desired outcomes and intended goals for registration, course content will be directed at two audience segments of the landscaping industry: those who install and maintain green spaces (landscaping companies, municipal staff, homeowners/gardeners), and those who experience landscapes (clients of landscaping companies, HOA boards, municipalities, homeowners/gardeners).

“We recognize that sustainable landscape training, to be most effective, should include different experiences based on how the individual interacts with landscapes,” Naughton said. “With CSU’s access to some of the nation’s top researchers and academics in science and sustainability, we’ll build upon existing curriculum and develop new modules that tailor the learning experience for either consumers or providers.”

To learn more about Landscape For Life, explore the course curriculum, or see how to get involved, visit landscapeforlife.colostate.edu.

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