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The Garden Club of America Award in Desert Studies

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Category: Desert Studies

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Application deadline: January 15


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

Level of Education

For graduate and junior or senior undergraduate students.


Open to graduate and junior or senior undergraduate students. Doctoral research field projects will also be considered for the GCA Award in Desert Studies, but will not have funding preference. Open to U.S. Citizens and permanent residents who are currently and actively enrolled in a U.S. - based institution. Due to IRS restrictions, GCA is unable to fund awards for international applicants.


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 the 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. At the completion of the internship or proposed project, the student would submit a written report of achievements to both the accredited botanical garden or arboretum and the GCA.


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


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 Scholarship Committee had been interested in this award for some time prior to its establishment due to concern over expanding desert land areas in the United States and abroad.

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. PLEASE NOTE: ONLY ONE GCA SCHOLARSHIP, FELLOWSHIP OR AWARD MAY BE APPLIED FOR ANNUALLY.


The GCA manages The GCA Award in Desert Studies Fund.


Noemi Hernández Castro, Cactus Specialist, Desert Botanical Garden, 1201 N. Galvin Parkway, Phoenix, AZ 85008, Email:, website (click here).


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