Life by Design: Jill McFarland, Landscape Architect

After nearly two decades as a landscape designer, Jill McFarland is now a landscape architect.

“Most people already thought I was one,” she laughed. “Even my kids!”

Jill went to architecture school at the University of Minnesota and earned her master’s in landscape architecture at the University of Virginia in 1998.

Back when she started architecture school, Jill hadn’t yet heard about landscape architecture. But when she did, it was an easy choice.

“I like dirt,” she said, “and I don’t like making things exactly rectangular.”

For 19 years, she used that down-to-earth nature and preference for softer lines to balance her career and family life, waiting until her kids outgrew the tiny stage to start taking her exams.

“I actually passed all my tests three years ago,” she said. “My longtime coworker Trent Grantham was the one who really kept on me and encouraged me to get all my stuff sent in.”

Nationally, landscape architects take four exams to earn their license, and in Washington state, applicants must answer additional questions regarding the Growth Management Acts, State Environmental Policy Act, Endangered Species Act, and Shoreline Management Act.

“Jill has been in the business for a long time and has a great eye for the profession,” SCJ Principal Landscape Architect Jeff Glander said. “We’re all proud she stuck with it and followed through on her dream to get her license.”

“Everyone here has been so supportive,” Jill said. “But no one is more proud than my dad. He wants me to send him a copy of my certificate to hang on his wall.”

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