Jill Primak’s career as an LA thus far has had its ups and downs judging by her description, but it seems that she has found a place in Nature Explore that calls to her personal beliefs and interests. About six months out of grad school Jill found a position with a firm that did mostly military contract work. Unfortunately (and as many professionals have warned us), the firm did not diversify their portfolio of work well enough. When the military contracts were lost the firm had not choice but to lay off several employees – including Jill. What’s worse is that her job hunt began again only 6 months after it ended. A short stint with a small firm ended with her heading back home to find work closer to her family and friends. Finally, a former professor sent her a possible line with Nature Explore, a 503C nonprofit that specializes in exploration and nature play educational landscapes for children. The opportunity provided Jill with a chance to explore the side of nonprofit work that is often passed over by larger or for profit groups.
Nature Explore seems like an interesting beast. They don’t design past the conceptual phase, rarely partake in actual construction, and are incredibly specialized, yet they appear very successful. What they can’t or don’t do on the design side they more than make up for in the research and support ends. Nature Explore specializes in landscapes designed for children that promote nature play, exploration, and active learning. This niche market had provided countless opportunities for developing research and collaboration efforts that bring together design, pedagogy, and material applications to develop high quality landscapes with a purpose. Additionally, Nature Explore provides quality support for their clients, which is great given that many of their clients are educators or employees at schools, museum, parks, and the like that have little-to-no experience in landscape design or project management. When I think about what kind of firm I would want mine to be (assuming I am ever crazy and bored enough to try and start my own) I find myself interested in the idea of providing the same quality support that Nature Explore has mastered. Working heavily with the client, donors, and contractors to create a collaborative and positive relationship with the common goal of creating meaningful spaces.