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The Garden Club of America Award in Desert Studies

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Category: Desert Studies

The Garden Club of America Award in Desert Studies



Purpose:  Promotes the study of horticulture, conservation, botany, environmental science and landscape design relating to the arid landscape.

History:  The award was established in 2006 by Nancy O. Swanson (Mrs. Robert), Columbine (Arizona) Garden Club, who served on both the Scholarship Committee and the Garden History and Design Committee. Mrs. Swanson and her husband saw the need to provide financial support to students in this field through their long-standing involvement on the Board of the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix and a personal interest in design in the arid landscape in Arizona and around the world. The fellowship had been on the Scholarship Committee’s “Wish List” for several years due to growing concern over expanding desert land areas in the United States and abroad.

Provisions:  Funds one or more scholars for one year at $4,000. Provides an award with wide scope for the study of horticulture, conservation, botany, environmental science and landscape design relating to the arid landscape. Preference given to students wishing to gain practical field experience -- specifically, planning and design for sustainability, rainwater harvesting and plant management, etc. -- through structured internships at accredited botanical gardens and arboreta. In lieu of an internship, the applicant can propose a project that is above and beyond the usual course of study. However, internships are given preference.

Eligibility:  Open to graduate or junior or senior undergraduate students. Eligibility is open to U.S. Citizens and permanent residents who are enrolled in a U.S. - based institution.

To Apply:  See Applications must be received by January 15. The recipient will be notified by March 31. Students must provide dates during which they will be available to intern.PLEASE NOTE: ONLY ONE GCA SCHOLARSHIP, FELLOWSHIP OR AWARD MAY BE APPLIED FOR ANNUALLY.

Selection:  Selection is by a panel appointed by the Desert Botanical Garden and is approved by the GCA Scholarship Committee.

Fund:  The GCA manages The GCA Award in Desert Studies Fund.

Contact:   Mr. Kenny Zelov, Assistant Director of Horticulture, Desert Botanical Garden, 1201 N. Galvin Parkway, Phoenix, AZ 85008, Phone: (480) 481-8162, Email:, website:

 See Recipients

Scholarship Opportunities Abound

The GCA offers 28 merit-based scholarships and fellowships, awarding more than $330,000 to 86 scholars in 2017.

For example, the GCA Fellowship in Ecological Restoration offers an $8,000 annual grant for graduate study and research at a leading accredited university in the United States. Fields of study of past recipients have ranged from forestry to applied plant sciences to ecology and evolutionary biology.

Read more about the four 2017 recipients.