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As the daughter of a West Texas dryland farmer and a community health nurse, the concepts of sustainability shaped my childhood. Regular conversations around the dinner table included the longevity of the Ogallala aquifer, public health issues, the carrying capacity of the land and most importantly, how we could improve all of those things for the betterment of our community. Through these casual discussions I began to understand that I could be a catalyst for positive change - an ideal that has carried through in my professional and personal life.
I am a bit of a dreamer and seem to have developed a pattern of envisioning work environments or projects that excite me, then accepting the challenge of making those things happen. So far, it's worked out well and has led me to gain wonderful project experience with teams of scientists, designers, and educators on projects emphasizing sustainable design, landscape restoration, and environmental education. After completing the Sustainable Sites Initiative (SITES) Guidelines and Performance Benchmarks in 2009, I resigned from the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center to stay home with my newborn son and see what the world had to offer. When not attending playdates or checking out parks, I continue to work on projects that excite me and have found that “professional escapes” from motherhood give me a better life prospective and greatly improve my sense of humor, particularly when dealing with toddler tantrums.
Since being out on my own I have had the pleasure of being a contributing author to the Sustainable Sites Handbook, writing my own book Designing the Sustainable Site, working with Ten Eyck Landscape Architects on the Campus Transformation Project at the University of Texas at El Paso and joining forces with Geosyntec to improve the City of Austin’s Environmental Criteria Manual and explore green infrastructure options for neighborhoods. I am constantly dreaming, planning, and scheming about the future and always look forward to the next adventure. A more detailed description of my background and professional experience can be found at http://www.linkedin.com/in/heathervenhaus