BHO 3999

By Tristyn Shier

An Industry Interview with Cynthia Pohl
I have had the pleasure of interviewing a personal role model of mine, Cynthia Pohl. Cynthia is the Owner and Operator of ‘Living Lands Landscape and Design’, a company run by Cynthia and her sister now for 13 years. In the past two years ‘Living Lands Landscape and Design’ has installed two Green Roof projects in Red Deer, Alberta for which they have received great praise for efficient, beautiful, detail oriented work. Cynthia is a highly regarded landscape designer with a wealth of knowledge and a passion for continuing her education in the horticultural industry. Cynthia started out on a small scale farm where her passion for horticulture was seeded, enjoying the fruits of her labour and being motivated early on to participate in organic farming practices. She later went into large scale agriculture where most of the farming was machine based and reliant on technology to a far higher level then what she had experienced before. While the practices were not well suited to her passion for the environment, Cynthia took what she could from her experiences, and continued to strengthen her passion for ecofriendly gardening, working towards the goal of starting up her own company. Cynthia is an alumnus of Olds College’s Journeyman Landscape Gardner program, and participant of Hort Week at the college. Cynthia enjoyed her education at the College, but often refers back to her self-taught information, and work experience for most of her current skills. She found the college to be valuable mostly for the step-by-step processes and cap stone information it provided. Prior to the start-up of her own company, Cynthia spent four years in the industry in varying sectors of horticulture. She has worked for a tissue culture lab, Sask Farms, Yard Care, and Tree Prod Green H, all of which offered different views and educational content that would come in handy as she struck out on her own. The success Cynthia has seen so far is mainly due to her own drive for learning, her passion for plants and what can be done to better the environment around us. Much of what she knows today is based on her own ambitious research, trial and error, and involvements with industry sources such as the Indigenous plants counsel. Cynthia, aside from climate related time constraints, loves going to work every day and displays a professional but friendly attitude towards everyone she meets. She is a good listener and a confident speaker, both which are important qualities in a client based industry. Cynthia has an understanding not only of the joy that landscape creations can bring home owners, but also the importance of these outdoor living spaces for wild life habitats. She is willing to put in the time to give clients everything they want in their yards, while at the same time providing education to everyone she meets on the importance of habitat reclamation, the use of indigenous plants, and proper long term care of sites.

BHO 3999

By Tristyn Shier

Cynthia believes in implementing low maintenance, but sustainable sites. Reflected in her work as years down the road the landscape does not become over crowded, and still maintains its intended years after the installation. She is often complimented by her clients on how dedicated to detail she is. Cynthia’s designs are so well created, that to this day she has had no need for advertisement as word of mouth carries fast enough to keep her business moving forward. With the expansion of the green industry, the growing sustainability movement, and changes in public views of environmental importance, Cynthia sees great room for growth in her company’s future. After interviewing this brilliant individual, I would have to agree that there is nothing she couldn’t do once she put her mind to it. When asked what it was she liked most about her job, Cynthia never mentioned monetary values, something I found very inspiring. She values the long term rewards of seeing something you made grow and develop, much like a mother would talk about their child. She adores how her position connects her to the natural world, and seeing her work provide joy to man and animal alike is one of the greatest rewards. Also, the public feedback she receives is very motivating, and gives her a sense of pride for what she is doing and will continue to do. All of these are modest, heartwarming goals that are not often spoken of many other industries and I could tell she meant every one of them. I have found after speaking with Cynthia, that we share many a common view. We share a similar passion, and joy for detailed work and structured processes. Our learning styles were quite similar, and I found this chance to hear about her success very motivating. I look forward to implementing what I have taken away from this interview into my education and future industry placement.

Competencies of Cynthia Pohl
Cynthia Pohl has always been the owner and operator of ‘Living Lands Landscape and Design’ as she is the founder of the company. Through years of experience and education in a variety of Horticulture related fields, Cynthia achieved her goal of starting her own business, and it has been running successfully for 13 years. While her company provides small scale project, the also entertain larger design and maintenance projects. One of the major contracts being the Red Deer Ellis Bird Farm, where ‘Living Lands Landscape and Design’ maintain the sanctuary’s habitats and design the scenic views along the paths for visitors to tour. This contract being a part of the company now for 12 years, with continued renewal to due to dedicated and detailed work provided with evolving environmental practices incorporations. Listed below are some of the Competencies required for the position held by Cynthia in her company. 1) Design sustainable landscapes. a) Develop a landscape master plan to be implemented on site. i) Identify the site soil profile to help in choosing appropriate plants. ii) Evaluate the potential disease and pest risks with each chosen plant species.

BHO 3999

By Tristyn Shier

b)

c)

d)

e)

iii) Identify the solar, climate, slope, and water requirements of the site and all plants chosen. iv) Provide client with a plant list and various options for use in each bed. v) Develop a layout drawing for use in the implementation of the design. Communicate professionally with clients. i) Practice effective listening skills during any interactions with the clients. ii) Contact clients on a regular basis for updates for project duration to keep on track with their requirements. iii) Educate clients on the maintenance requirements of their new garden space with confidence. iv) Address clients in a professional and positive manner. Abide by legislature and planting regulations. i) Acquire any permits required before the project start date ii) Follow all provincial worksite safety standards Implement Ecofriendly concepts. i) Identify indigenous species to be used on site. ii) Provide specific plant lists based on desired habitat for local plant life. iii) Install green roof and other ‘green’ alternatives. iv) Implement sustainable plans for low maintenance yards that provide multiple years of aesthetic value. Research site history to understand the location. i) Determine the past history of plantings to better understand what plants were previously grown on site. ii) Identify pest and disease potential from past and surrounding plant life. iii) Research climate data to predict rainfall, wind direction, and solar exposure on site.

2) Build sustainable landscapes. a) Manage project to set budget and time. i) Develop a gant chart to monitor completion time and project duration using excel. ii) Manage project costs for labor, materials, and equipment over the project duration. iii) Identify solutions to lost time due to weather or equipment setbacks. iv) Practice effective time management skills. b) Install vegetation. i) Implement proper planting practices to ensure the heath and survival of vegetation on site. ii) Preform plantings in a safe manner using appropriate personal protection equipment. iii) Read site plans to ensure proper placement of vegetation on site. c) Follow safety regulations. i) Assess safety hazards on site for self, employees, and clients.

BHO 3999

By Tristyn Shier

ii) Follow procedure for use of tools and equipment for all aspects of the installation process. iii) Identify safety infractions and handle them in a professional manner. d) Inform clients on the proper care for newly developed landscape. i) Communicate the importance of care for short term and long term health of the plants installed on a project site. ii) Provide instruction on the proper maintenance of herbaceous and woody plants that have been planted in the landscape. iii) Resolve monetary issues to provide better long term solutions to better both the client and the landscape.

3) Manage company operations. a) Purchase products and materials. i) Determine what is required within the confines of a budget. ii) Track the spending of jobsite and overhead purchases. b) Manage company employees. i) Identify each specific skill set is offered by each employee ii) Provide a safe work place for all employees. iii) Solve conflicts between employees, should any arise, in a quick and responsible manner. iv) Communicate in a professional manner with all employees. c) Develop presentations for completed projects. i) Create grammatically correct and properly formatted documents to present to clients and industry representatives. ii) Communicate my ideas clearly in a written format. iii) Follow the processes for compiling job site data to be used in project write ups. iv) Justify my recommendations with well researched and documented backings.

In conclusion I have found that there are many areas I already feel confident in saying I already have the skills to preform similar tasks. While I still need experience, education had provided me with the frame work needed to follow in similar footsteps as Cynthia. I understand that I need to develop my research skills, as well as my time management. This industry is one of constant development and it is important to keep up with all the new findings that better our understanding of how to create a dynamic and environmentally conscious landscape design. Constant research into the field is required to provide the best possible service to clients, and the best possible results in the long run. Also, time management had proven to be key in a location where we are constantly watching the weather, and constrained by the duration of our growing season. I will need to identify a strategy of time management that works best for me and implement it constantly through all projects and even my own life. Also, and understanding of where my true passions lie is something that was brought into light over the duration of this interview. While I agree with

BHO 3999

By Tristyn Shier

much of what Cynthia has shared with me, I would like to find my own ambition, and in which sector I would like to focus it. Whether it be green roofs, residential design, parks, or research. Over all this has been an enlightening experience and I will use what I have learned from Cynthia to better myself in my studies, and my upcoming DFS application. I will work towards being able to accomplish as much if not more than this industry mentor, and will strive to achieve as high a reputation as Cynthia Pohl.

BHO 3999

By Tristyn Shier

Interview Script
Education
How long have you been in the horticulture industry? Was it always in this field?

What formal education did you receive in Horticultural Practices? Where from? How long? What courses?

Do you find you often reference back to you education and previous courses?

Were there any other forms of education you received? From who/where?

Did you have specific mentors that helped you along the way? How so?

Did your education play a large role in getting you to where you are now? Explain.

Was experience more valuable?

Experience
How long have you owned and operated your current company?

If applicable, how many horticulture/Skill related jobs have you had previous to this?

BHO 3999 Did you find the experience helpful and relevant with them?

By Tristyn Shier

What is the current title you hold in the work place? When did you achieve this title? What major skills helped you reach this point in your career?

What are the specific responsibility your position entails?

What are some major projects you have helped to complete? What skills did you pull upon to complete these projects?

What do you enjoy most about your current position?

Are there any constraints represented by your field? (Public eye, Legislation, L.A.N.T.A) How do you handle discrepancies?

Do you find there is any room to grow within your current position?

What specific services does your company provide and are you involved in all of them? Do you provide 4 season work? What winter services do you provide?

What is the level of experience you expect from you co-workers (experience vs education)

Do you often deal with the public? What skills do you find important when doing so?

BHO 3999

By Tristyn Shier

Personal
Do you find you look forward to work on a daily basis?

What do you enjoy most about your job?

What has been the highlight of your career so far?