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Her blood runs green

Katie Selin, a Madison native who transferred to the University of Wisconsin- Madison, is following in the footsteps of her grandfather. She is pursuing a degree in landscape architecture.

“My grandfather graduated with UW-Madison’s first LA class in the 1940s,” Selin says. “He started his own company, the Ganshert Nursery & Landscapes in Fitchburg, and I grew up running around the nursery.”

Selin had considered pursuing an art degree, but eventually settled on landscape architecture because she liked the diverse mix of art, science, math and psychology that the field offers.

Although the program is both competitive and rigorous, Selin has enjoyed the camaraderie it builds, taking classes with the same cohort of two dozen students for the past three years.

She gained hands-on experience during a summer program in Montana, working with the local Boys and Girls Club, and helping construct a new building on the tribal campus.

This winter, Selin was invited to participate in UW-Madison”s new partnership project with the Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibway Community College near Hayward. The experience has turned into her senior thesis project.

“We are mapping ‘green infrastructure,'” Selin says. “That”s a conservation term describing the natural spaces in a region that are crucial to the ecosystem, such as wetlands and steep slopes. This information helps us plan for future development by ensuring that area resources are protected first.”

The landscape architecture program equipped her with some new tools that have already come in handy.

“I am not a computer person at all,” Selin confesses. “I don”t know CAD well, but we started using ArcMap freshman year and after my 10-week refresher course, I now use it for multiple aspects of my studio work.”

This semester Selin is teaching the GIS program to students from the tribal campus as part of a cross-campus partnership. After graduation, she plans to travel, then work with community groups or non-profit organizations.