Garden Club of America’s Amazing Scholarships

The Garden Club of America’s tag line: Garden, Create, Advocate is a succinct reflection of what we do. One perfect illustration of our advocacy work is the support GCA provides to young scholars who are vested in GCA’s purpose: restoring, improving and protecting the environment. 

Beginning with the Rome Prize Fellowship in Landscape Architecture first presented in 1929, the GCA has established 29 merit-based undergraduate and postgraduate scholarships and fellowships spanning 12 areas related to conservation, ecology, horticulture, pollinator research, botany, desert studies, coastal wetlands, garden history and design, native bird habitats and urban forestry. 

Over the span of several decades, the GCA has awarded nearly 1,400 scholarships, totaling more than six million dollars. In 2022 alone, 78 recipients received funding support totaling $354,000.  As you can imagine, these gifts directly impact the lives of enthusiastic students committed to science-based research. Typically, GCA scholars become distinguished leaders in their field(s), teaching, publishing, and lecturing to further advance our knowledge of the environment and our world. 

This scholastic endeavor has been made possible by generous financial contributions from GCA clubs and their members. As Garden Club of America club members, this support is one of the things we can all feel very proud of. 

One such interesting scholarship award is The Garden Club of America Award in Desert Studies.  Established by a member of the Arizona Columbine Garden Club, it provides funding to college juniors, seniors and postgraduate students. The scholarship specifically promotes the study of horticulture, conservation, botany, environmental science, and landscape design relating to the arid landscape. With the drought conditions we in the West constantly face, work in planning for sustainability and such things as rain water harvesting is sure to benefit us all.

Please meet the 2022 GCA Desert Studies Scholar, Erin Forstner. 

Forstner, a Landscape Architecture undergraduate at Arizona State University, completed an internship at Desert Botanical Garden this past summer. “Working at the Desert Botanical Garden,” said Forstner, “I was able to explore the plant care, maintenance and background of not only native Sonoran Desert plants, but also plant species from around the globe.” Partnering with experts in native pollinators, landscape design, and horticulture, Forstner’s internship included experimenting with planting in a vertical wall and researching the effects of different intensities of sunlight. In addition, she trimmed tree canopies and helped design a community garden in Phoenix that utilized both pollinator and edible plants in an educational and accessible public space.

Forstner continues her undergraduate studies and is currently interning at Floor Associates, an award winning Landscape Architecture and Planning firm dedicated to creating sustainable places that respect the sensitive desert environment.

Supporting GCA Scholarships represents a solid investment in our future!

–Lindsay Dodge