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A role model for Native youth

STILLWATER, Okla. – Jessica Moore’s passion for art, mathematics and culture has taken her across the world.

Moore (Osage/Otoe-Missouria/Sac and Fox/Pawnee) is a 24-year-old Oklahoma State University student in her final year of the landscape architecture program.

“I have been fortunate to travel abroad to a number of countries, which created a new passion for me – a love for other cultures and other societies of this world,” said Moore, a 2009 National Center for American Indian Enterprise 40 Under 40 honoree. So far, her studies have taken her to France, Italy, Thailand, Japan and Peru.

As a young girl, Moore always wanted to be a doctor, but her interest in art and math eventually led her to architecture. Later, an interest in environmentalism led her to change her field to landscape architecture. “I actually didn’t know what landscape architecture was until my sophomore year at OSU.”

It’s a multidisciplinary field involving the planning and design of natural and built environments. “My design philosophy as a landscape architect is to make space animate, special and memorable in a way that invokes the emotions that the owner wishes to express or feels,” Moore said.

“I recently did some research in Native American symbolism within landscape architecture, so I would like to work more with this and incorporating culture into design, researching other cultures as well and designing for site specific groups.”

Moore would like a role in developing indigenous and non-indigenous communities through the use of sustainable and green design concepts. “My goal is to study other cultures through research and experience and help shape different societies by developing and designing personal spaces for those communities. I will be able to apply sustainable design to all aspects of a community while preserving a culture’s self-worth and the land’s natural context and environment.”

At OSU, Moore is learning different ways of applying sustainable design through low-impact development.

“I believe that sustainable design is something that we as landscape architects should pay more attention to for the preservation and advancement of human and societal health and well-being. By using low-impact development, we can design a peaceful and livable atmosphere for any community while preserving natural resources and land environmental factors.

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“Ultimately, I would like to head a Native American-owned landscape architecture firm, making a connection to Indian country that is needed in today’s society.”

Moore says commitment, patience, understanding and great communication skills are the most important qualities of a landscape architect. “Communication is key in anything in life, especially when going over a potential project or design in the works.”

In addition to her studies, Moore manages to find time to serve as president of Alpha Pi Omega Sorority Inc., vice president of the Native American Student Association, secretary/treasurer of the Multicultural Greek Council and treasurer of the Oklahoma Federation of Indian Women.

Moore also held the title of Miss Indian Oklahoma in 2007-08 and served as an ambassador for all 39 tribes of Oklahoma through the “Leadership Amongst Native American Youth” speaker platform.

In this role, Moore learned to be professional, speak in front of diverse groups, voice her opinion when necessary, be a self-starter and live a healthy lifestyle. “This experience helped me to mature, to see the world from other’s eyes and to realize the importance of being a role model for younger Native and non-Native American children across the United States.”

Youth serve as Moore’s motivational force, particularly her own younger siblings. Her biggest honor is to be a role model for her twin sisters. Being a role model is hard, Moore said, but it motivates her to become stronger everyday. “It is so rewarding to see them grow up and want to be like me because it is then that I know that I am doing the right thing.

“My younger sisters are twins, one being physically disabled, so I have always had her in my heart for the many struggles she has already had to face in her young life.”

Moore’s own role models continue to be her parents. “I want nothing more than to grow up and have a family like they do. They are loving, smart and the best kinds of people to get to know.”

For a young woman who loves to travel and see the world, Moore said there’s still no place like her Fairfax, Okla. family home. “My ultimate favorite pastime would be relaxing in front of the fireplace at my parents’ home, the place where I will always love. This place is where I have no worries and is always a place I love to be.”

Lorraine Jessepe can be reached at