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The Garden Club of America Awards in Tropical Botany

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Category: Botany

The Garden Club of America Awards in Tropical Botany


History, Arundel Scholarship: The first GCA Awards in Tropical Botany were established in 1983 with a five-year incentive grant of $50,000 from the Wildcat Foundation. They were created by Mrs. Russell Arundel, horticulturist and dedicated environmentalist from the Warrenton (Virginia) Garden Club, and provided for two $5,000 grants a year so that doctoral candidates could pursue independent field study in the tropics. During that five-year period, over 100 applications were received for the grants. In 1989 the GCA Executive Committee voted to establish the awards on a permanent basis, and subsequently allocated $100,000 to fund the Arundel Scholarship.  

History, Visiting Gardens Scholarship: The Visiting Gardens Scholarship was established in addition to the Arundel Scholarship with a $100,000 donation from the Visiting Gardens Committee. These monies represented donations to the GCA by participants in the Visiting Gardens' trips.

Purpose: To promote the preservation of tropical forests by enlarging the body of botanists with field experience.

Provisions: Provides two or more grants of $5500 annually to enable field study in tropical botany. (Award amounts were increased from $5000 in 1994.) Generally, one grant is awarded in the area of tropical plant systematics and a second is awarded in tropical forest ecology.

Eligibility: Open to students who anticipate completing the requirements for a Ph.D. in Botany within two years. Applicants must already be Ph.D. candidates enrolled at a US university. Eligibility is open to U.S. Citizens and permanent residents who are enrolled in a U.S. - based institution. 

To Apply: There is no formal application form. Candidates should submit an application packet including the following:

  • A personal letter describing the candidate's plans for the future and commitment to tropical conservation; and
  • A two-page statement of the proposed research, including its relevance to conservation, beginning with a summary statement of the proposal’s purpose, field location, plant group/vegetation type and questions to be answered;
  • One letter of recommendation from the student's graduate advisor that includes an evaluation of the student's progress to date and a statement confirming Ph.D. candidacy;
  • Evidence of foreign language capability, if necessary for country of research; and
  • A brief curriculum vitae (1-2 pages).

Please submit all information as one PDF document. Please use standard 8.5" x 11" size paper, no smaller than 10-point, Times New Roman font, single spaced or greater, and 1" margins on all sides. References and graphics do not count toward the two-page limit. Please email the document to

Applications must be postmarked by January 15 preceding the proposed period of study. PLEASE NOTE: ONLY ONE GCA SCHOLARSHIP, FELLOWSHIP OR AWARD MAY BE APPLIED FOR ANNUALLY.

Selection: World Wildlife Fund has organized and managed the program since its inception. A panel of botanists appointed by WWF screens and selects candidates, and final approval is at the discretion of the GCA Scholarship Committee.

Fund: The Marjorie Arundel Awards in Tropical Botany Fund and the Visiting Gardens Tropical Botany Scholarship Fund are managed by the GCA.

Contact: Andrea Santy, Director, Education for Nature Program, World Wildlife Fund, 1250 24th Street NW, Washington, DC 20037. Phone: (202) 495-4447, e-mail:


 See Recipients

Scholarship Opportunities Abound

The Garden Club of America offers 28 merit-based scholarships and fellowships in 12 areas related to conservation, ecology, horticulture, and pollinator research. In 2018, more than $308,400 was awarded to 65 scholars.

In its inaugural year, the Montine M. Freeman Scholarship in Native Plant Studies was awarded to Angela Merriken and Dr. Uma Venkatesh.

Read more about the new Scholarship and the recipients.