When Westfield resident Marc Nissim was in high school someone offered him some life-changing advice. A talented artist and an avid outdoorsman, Nissim was told he should consider combining those interests by pursuing a career in landscape architecture and that's exactly what he did.
Nissim, originally from Princeton, will speak with three classes today at Career Day. The owner and founder of Harmony Design Group has volunteered for this event in the past at both Roosevelt and his own Alma mater. He said he really enjoys meeting with the students and gets a kick out of their responses when he asks, "What do you think a landscape architect does?"
"Some are close and some are not so close," Nissim said with a laugh. "I try to educate them on what it is I do."
Nissim said he uses a Powerpoint presentation to show the middle-schoolers the transformation a backyard can undergo.
"When they see that I do some large, grand backyards with pools, patios and kitchens, they say 'Oh my God! They have that in their backyard?'" he said.
Nissim said he also shows a video of Heisman Trophy winner and NFL pro-bowler Eddie George who is also a landscape architect.
Licensed in both New Jersey and New York, Nissim said one of the things he loves about his job is how varied each day is.
"Some days I'm in the office, some days I'm on job sites; it's a nice mix," he explained.
Nissim said one of the biggest challenges he faces is bringing together a harmonious blend of the site-specific aesthetic, the site terrain and the homeowner's vision for the area.
"Every job has its different set of challenges and every client has his or her own design ideas and style," he said.
Nissim said he first looks at the home and the land it sits on and then designs something that fits into that environment and the contours of the terrain. After that is completed, he focuses on what he calls "the icing on the cake" -- the plantings. In each spot, Nissim takes into account the amount of shade, sun, water and deer exposure the plants will encounter.
The landscape architect said he enjoys educating people on the value of his career as well as the difference between his job and what people think of as traditional landscaping, especially during April which is National Landscape Architecture Month.
"I love what I do," he said. "It's kind of fun."