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The Garden Club of America Award in Desert Studies

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Category: Desert Studies

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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. While the award is intended to have a wide scope pertaining to the arid environment, preference will be 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 or arboreta, including, but not limited to, the Desert Botanical Garden.

 Students wishing to intern should contact their chosen botanical garden or arboreta to frame a plan of work that will guide both the intern and the garden staff in implementation and monitoring. This plan should include the time period in which the student will be available for internship. The student should also check with the student's advisor office to see if university credit will be given for the internship program, although academic credit is not required.

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 application information. 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. 


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:

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The Garden Club of America offers 29 merit-based scholarships and fellowships in 12 areas related to conservation, ecology, horticulture, and pollinator research. In 2022, over $350,000 were awarded to 78 scholars. Follow GCA Scholarships on Twitter for the latest news about pollinators, coastal wetlands, native bird habitats, and much more. Connect to a larger world of horticulture and conservation through the Garden Club of America scholars. Learn more about the GCA Scholarships. Browse the scholarship offerings.