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GCA Scholarships Recipients


2023 Zane Robertson

The Garden Club of America Award in Desert Studies
School: Master’s student, Plant Biology and Conservation, Arizona State University

A Taxonomic and Genetic Investigation of the Rare Plant Rumex orthoneurus

Continuing thesis research with the US Forest Service and Desert Botanical Garden staff, Robertson will look closely at Blumer’s dock, a flowering plant in the knotweed family native to western North America. Blumer’s dock is found in Arizona and New Mexico and is a US Forest Service protected plant. Robertson hopes to determine if Rumex orthoneurus is a genetically and morphologically distinct taxa. Robertson foresees pursuing a career in studying rare plants with cultural or ethnobotanical interest.

2023 Megan Rziha

The Garden Club of America Award in Desert Studies
School: Undergraduate, Landscape Architecture and Sustainability, Arizona State University

Summer Internship at Desert Botanical Garden

Rziha will participate in a summer internship at Desert Botanical Garden and will partner with staff members from the Collections, Research, and Horticulture departments. Working on a rotational basis in several areas will expose Rziha to a wide variety of horticulture-related topics. Rziha hopes to expand an understanding of native plants, animals, and processes to create designs that support natural ecosystems as well as human use.


2022 Mylea C Lovell

The Garden Club of America Award in Desert Studies

Measuring and Monitoring Selaginella lepidophylla Populations: Are the Current Rates of Commercial Harvest Sustainable?

Lovell will use a background in range conservation and restoration ecology to gather data on wild Selaginella lepidophylla in the Chihuahuan desert. Lovell will monitor and assess conservation risks due to commercial exploitation. Lovell’s research will bring together the principles of conservation and ecological sustainability with crop genomics and sustainable agriculture in water-limited landscapes.

2022 Erin Forstner

The Garden Club of America Award in Desert Studies

Summer Internship at Desert Botanical Garden

Forstner’s summer internship at Desert Botanical Garden will allow study of all aspects of desert gardens and conservation. Working with the organization’s staff, Forstner will obtain hands-on experience in multiple departments and will learn about plant collections, research procedure, and landscape and garden design.

2021 Iris J Garthwaite

The Garden Club of America Award in Desert Studies
School: Master’s Student, Environmental Sciences & Policy Program and The Center for Adaptable Western Landscapes, Northern Arizona University

Using a Geographic Mosaic of Climate Variation to Assess Genetic vs. Environmental Sources of Variation in Populus fremontii Leaf Venation

Garthwaite studies climate change effects on Fremont Cottonwoods, to conserve this iconic foundation tree species. Combining advanced histology and innovative image analysis methods, she uses the Southwest Experimental Garden Array and digital herbarium specimens to understand the relationship between climate and Fremont Cottonwoods across spatial and temporal scales.  Her goal is to communicate her findings to conservation practitioners to advance climate-related adaptive management strategies for Southwestern riparian corridors.


2021 Michael David Mohr

The Garden Club of America Award in Desert Studies
School: Master’s Student, Landscape Architecture, Arizona State University

Desert Botanical Garden, Summer 2021

Mohr will research varied topics during the summer at the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, Arizona.  He will rotate among their multiple departments, including collections and planting design, pest management, and rare species management and research.


2020 Lauren Baldarelli

The Garden Club of America Award in Desert Studies

Research into Biological Soil Crusts (Biocrusts)

Lauren Baldarelli is a Ph.D. candidate at Kent State University majoring in ecology and evolutionary biology. Her research focus is on biocrusts of the American Southwest. Biocrusts interest her as important organisms in arid landscapes that contribute significantly to ecosystem services. Baldarelli’s current research involves understanding how soil type, nutrient availability, and elevation affect the abundance and composition of biocrusts. She will investigate this by estimating biocrust cover and measuring enzymatic activity along a 2,000-meter elevational gradient between Phoenix and Flagstaff, Arizona.

2019 William Hartman

The Garden Club of America Award in Desert Studies

William Hartman is a junior at Oregon State University majoring in horticulture. Building on his background as a full-time firefighter and his research at Denver Botanic Gardens, Hartman will enhance his understanding of desert plant species, particularly those that are re resistant. For his project, he will design a Firewise® demonstration garden utilizing sustainable native plant species with a thoughtful design to combat the growing threat of wild res in Colorado.

2019 Lauren Reeves

The Garden Club of America Award in Desert Studies

Lauren Reeves is a third-year landscape architecture student at Arizona State University. Working at the Desert Botanical Garden, she will research desert plants to gain understanding of their use in sustainable landscape design. This knowledge will advance her studies on Low Impact Development strategies in the arid environment. She will also use Geographic Information Systems to enhance the Desert Botanical Garden’s tree inventory and gain valuable horticultural knowledge about function and care of trees in the desert landscape.

2018 Garrett Langefels

The Garden Club of America Award in Desert Studies

Garrett Langefels is a sophomore majoring in landscape architecture at Arizona State University. While interning at the 140-acre Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, he will advance his knowledge of desert plants and their use in landscape design. He will also focus on sustainability in desert regions and on new strategies for protecting native bird habitats from the constant threat of human development. Hoping to make Moeur Park in Tempe more hospitable for roadrunners, for example, Langefels is working on an exhibition at the park to emphasize the importance of conserving the dwindling natural desert within the Phoenix metropolitan area.

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Scholarship Opportunities Abound

The Garden Club of America offers 29 merit-based scholarships and fellowships in 12 areas related to conservation, ecology, horticulture, and pollinator research. In 2023, over $405,000 were awarded to 86 scholars. Follow GCA Scholarships on Instagram for the latest news about pollinators, coastal wetlands, native bird habitats, and much more. Connect to a larger world of horticulture and conservation through Garden Club of America scholars. Browse the scholarship offerings.

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