Sheep on a lawn
The UC Davis Sheepmowers will join LABash, a student-run landscape architecture conference, to be held on campus March 28-30.

UC Davis Hosts Landscape Architecture Conference for Students

Students Organize LABash on Campus March 28-30

Edible landscaping, machine learning and sheepmowers – an upcoming student-run conference has something for everyone. “LABash” is an annual landscape architecture conference that brings together students, educators and professionals from the U.S. and Canada.

The conference, set for March 28-30, includes a variety of events and field trips, including workshops, talks, demonstrations and social outings (schedule here). It can be a valuable opportunity for students to gain insight into the field of landscape architecture, develop skills and build relationships with peers and experts within the industry.

three students in a big yellow chair
Landscape architecture students created these oversized yellow Adirondack chairs at the Hunt Hall courtyard as part of a design/build studio course last fall.

UC Davis students Mark Peñaran and Olive Tang, both juniors majoring in landscape architecture, are leading a team of students organizing and planning details of the conference. They have spent the past year putting together a robust schedule of exciting experiences.

“If you just want to have fun and go on field trips, you can do that and connect with other students,” Peñaran said. “If you are looking for an internship this summer, we have an expo with exhibitors and companies looking to recruit. If you want to be inspired, we have a lineup of encouraging speakers. There’s something for everyone.”

This will be the first time the event will be held on the UC Davis campus. This year’s theme is “sunny side up,” which Tang said is a nod to California’s sunny weather and the warmth, optimism and motivation that students have to build a successful profession.

Speakers, field trips and free food

The UC Davis Sheepmowers will be in the spotlight on day one of the conference as they graze on the grassy quad outside the UC Davis Conference Center. While watching the sheep in action, participants can also enjoy watercolor painting and needle felting.

“It will be very similar to the grazing events we have on campus during the year, and now we’re exposing it to students from all around the country,” Tang said.

Attendees can also register to attend one of four field trips, which includes visits to downtown Sacramento, the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area, Village Homes in Davis (developed with energy-efficient design features) and Jepson Prairie, a natural preserve located about 20 miles south of Davis featuring blooming wildflowers, seasonal playa lakes and vernal pools.

For those not going on a field trip, there’s plenty of fun activities on campus, such as a scavenger hunt for iconic UC Davis landmarks like the Egghead sculptures and the new oversized yellow Adirondack chairs that landscape architecture students, including Peñaran and Tang, designed and built in the Hunt Hall courtyard. There’s a social planned each night of the conference at spots including Sudwerk Brewing Co. in Davis and Ruhstaller Farm in Dixon. Thanks to sponsorships, there’s free food and beverages at those gatherings.

Professors and local landscape architecture professionals will share stories, advice and the latest developments in the industry. The speakers will address several topics including the potential uses of artificial intelligence technologies, zoo design, fire stewardship, carbon impacts of the built landscape, and the diverse experiences of LGBTQIA+ individuals in landscape architecture.

Designing their future

Students attended the 2023 ASLA Conference in Minneapolis, pictured (L-R): Lauren Connelly, Dyanna Perez, Alejandra Regis, Fiona Baxter, Paulynn Cruz, Mark Peñaran, Olive Tang and Danielle Lowe.

Both Peñaran and Tang started their journeys at UC Davis studying different subjects; Peñaran was a marine biology major at first and Tang initially had an interest in animal science. Eventually, they each discovered landscape architecture and realized where their passion lies.

“Immediately, from my first quarter, I was very inspired by what landscape architecture is and what we do,” Peñaran said. “I’m into public art, making art accessible in public spaces and finding ways for our urban areas to be more beautiful.”

By hosting LABash, the students are excited that the campus and Davis community will be at the center of attention. But they also hope to share why landscape architecture is important to them and to all of us.

“What captivated me was how landscape architecture is everywhere,” she said. “The work that we do touches on every aspect of everyone’s lives.”

For updates, follow LABashConference on Instagram and check out for full event details, schedule and registration.

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