Amazing Students Profiles

Sarah Collins

Sarah Collins

In between shaving her head for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation for children’s cancer research and creating pottery, Sarah Collins is helping to redesign and promote the UGA Coastal Gardens and Historic Bamboo Farm.  She has won several environmental stewardship awards and hopes to make a career out of sustainable landscape architecture.


Nellysford, Va.

High School:

Nelson County High School

Degree objective:

Master of Landscape Architecture

Other degrees:

B.S. in architecture with a minor in landscape architecture from the University of Virginia

Expected graduation:

Spring 2011

University highlights, achievements, awards and scholarships:

I am a staff member of the Georgia Landscape magazine, the annual student publication of the College of Environment and Design.  I am also a member of CounterSPACE, the CED project to create a sustainable food community in Athens.  I have been recognized by the 7 Society for my participation in a St. Baldrick’s Foundation fundraiser for children’s cancer research.  I also received the Z Society Honor for Environmental Stewardship and the Thomas Jefferson Soil and Water Conservation District Academic award for 2009-2010.

Current Employment:

I work as a graduate assistant in the College of Environment and Design, where I have been helping with the design for the future UGA Coastal Gardens and Historic Bamboo Farm. The farm is currently a research facility associated with the university and they are interested in turning it into a public botanic garden. Specifically, I have been working on the design of the entrance drive and the bio-swales for the parking area. Additionally, I have been helping to put together promotional material for the Bamboo Farm for their fundraising efforts.

I chose to attend UGA because…

…my minor adviser at UVA told me that the University of Georgia’s Master of Landscape program is one of the best in the nation, and I was very impressed with the program, the university and Athens when I interviewed here. I saw a lot of diversity on campus and around town, and appreciated all of the opportunities that I would have within the program.

My favorite things to do on campus are…

…spend time in Founders’ Memorial Garden.  It’s a great place to go to take a break from the landscape studio, study outside, or to hang out with the other MLA students on “Third Fridays.”

When I have free time, I like…

… to make pottery at Good Dirt Clay Studio. Pottery became a very important activity when I was an undergrad in Virginia, and I was so happy to find a place to be able to work with clay here in Athens. I’ve had a lot of fun helping with wood firings and have learned a number of new techniques from the teachers there.

The craziest thing I’ve done is…

…shave my head. While I volunteered as a clown, red nose and all, in Sri Lanka following the 2004 Tsunami, I still feel that my participation in the St. Baldrick’s Foundation fundraiser this year took me much further out of my comfort zone. I have always had very long hair and have donated to “Locks of Love” when I have cut my hair, but I don’t remember wearing it much shorter than shoulder length, so having a shaved head was really different.  The St. Baldrick’s Foundation raises money for children’s cancer research and fundraiser participants shave their heads in solidarity with children going through chemotherapy. Additionally, if a participant’s hair is long enough, it is donated for cancer patient wigs; I donated about 24 inches of thick, dark brown hair.

My favorite professor is…

…Dean Dan Nadenicek. He is really interested in student opinions regarding landscape architecture and really listens to what we have to say. I enjoy talking to him about landscape history and theory, but also know that I can talk to him about anything else that is going on. He willingly takes time out of his busy schedule to listen to students, whatever their current concerns may be.

If I could share an afternoon with anyone, I would love to share it with…

…Fredrick Law Olmstead. He is the father of landscape architecture and did amazing design work. He is one of the designers of Central Park and a number of park systems throughout the U.S. Later in his career he also became an advocate for land conservation and worked on projects like the Biltmore Estate in Western North Carolina.

If I knew I could not fail, I would…

…work in rural Appalachia to help with cultural and farmland preservation, and subsistence living. Appalachia has a very specific culture that we are at risk of losing. It is not easy to live off of the land in Appalachia; I grew up there so I know, but it was done for generations and can be done again. By having an understanding of landscape design and of agriculture, I feel that I could make a difference in preserving a lifestyle and the aesthetics of the mountain landscape.

After graduation, I plan to…

…work as a landscape architect. I hope to work for a design firm the holds sustainability as a key part of their philosophy. We have limited resources when it comes to the land, landscape and water, and it is very important for landscape architects to design responsibly. I would also like to have the opportunity to work as a landscape architect within agriculture and farmland preservation; landscape design and agriculture are two fields that should be combined more often.