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GCA Scholarships Recipients


2023 Nicole Holmes

The Garden Club of America Fellowship in Ecological Restoration
School: Master’s student, Marine, Estuarine, and Environmental Sciences, University of Maryland

Indigenous Participation in Ecosystem Restoration: An Analysis of the Chesapeake Bay

Holmes will study the relationship and involvement of Native American voices in Chesapeake Bay restoration. Researching First Nations, their oral traditions, their experiential teaching style of traditional ways, and the beneficial role of Traditional Ecological Knowledge, Holmes will highlight the importance of indigenous voices in the planning and evaluation of alternative actions in ecosystem management. The project aims to improve flow of information between relevant stakeholders and increase indigenous leadership representation and involvement in Chesapeake Bay restoration efforts.


2023 Anjali Boyd

The Garden Club of America Fellowship in Ecological Restoration
School: PhD candidate in Marine Science and Conservation, Duke University

Developing Low-Cost Restoration Techniques to Restore Seagrass Ecosystems Globally

Boyd will investigate the effects of snail addition and removal on turtlegrass at Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Bocas del Toro, Panama. Boyd will manipulate snail density to examine the density-dependent effects of grazing snails on turtlegrass fungal infection, growth, survival, ecosystem services, and restoration outcomes. Restoration solutions will be determined for seagrass ecosystems that are critical for climate change mitigation, food security, and income generation.


2023 Aishwarya Veerabahu

The Garden Club of America Fellowship in Ecological Restoration
School: PhD candidate in Fungal Ecology, University of Wisconsin-Madison

The Midas Mushroom: The Invasion of Golden Oyster Mushrooms in the Midwest

Working with University of Wisconsin-Madison and the US Forest Service, Veerabahu will explore the impacts of the invasive golden oyster mushroom on the native fungal community and wood decomposition in its invaded range. Veerabahu seeks to elucidate whether the golden oyster mushroom, as an aggressive white rot decomposer, is displacing native fungal communities, native decay processes, or the carbon emissions from deadwood decay. Establishing invasive impact will serve as basis for policy suggestions and conversations around preventative measures for non-native fungal introductions.


2023 Michelle Henson

The Garden Club of America Fellowship in Ecological Restoration
School: PhD candidate in Plant Biology, University of Georgia

Investigating the Temporal Dynamics of Postfire Soil Community Reassembly in a Longleaf Pine Savanna

Henson will collect soils from prescribed fire sites at The Jones Center at Ichauway to analyze soil fungal and bacterial composition, richness, and diversity. Further analysis will assess the impacts of prescribed fire regimes by investigating the temporal responses of soil community structure and function in an endangered pyrogenic ecosystem. Results will build on foundational concepts of post disturbance community assembly and advance the field by applying a plant-soil microbe perspective to conventional fire ecology.


2023 Laurel Sebastian

The Garden Club of America Fellowship in Ecological Restoration
School: Master’s student, Ecology, University of California, Davis

Tracking Ecosystem Function Tradeoffs and Synergies: Carbon Sequestration Across Three Grassland Restoration Designs

Sebastian’s research aims to identify restoration strategies that support soil carbon sequestration in California grasslands. Leveraging an experiment using plant traits to optimize either drought tolerance, invasion resistance, or functional diversity, Sebastian will test whether any of those restoration goals exhibit trade-offs with soil carbon. By measuring plant traits, species cover, and five unique soil carbon pools, Sebastian hopes to identify traits or species that can support carbon sequestration and other restoration goals simultaneously.


2022 Joanna Tang

The Garden Club of America Fellowship in Ecological Restoration

Restoration Strategies for Increasing Resistance and Resilience of Vernal-Pool Plant Assemblages

An applied scientist who studies community plant ecology to inform restoration management, Tang’s research will focus on urban vernal-pool wetland restoration. Tang will test the effectiveness of invasive thatch reduction in decreasing nonnative plant populations and increasing native-plant populations. Tang hopes to develop methods to decrease reinvasion of restored vernal pools by engaging the local community in long-term restoration management efforts.

2022 Ryan W.R. Schroeder

The Garden Club of America Fellowship in Ecological Restoration

Rangeland Soil SeedBank Suitability: Testing an Interpretive Model Assessing How Soil Properties Influence Viable Seeds and Ecosystem-Restoration Pathways

Schroeder will develop and test a soil-interpretation model to characterize a soil’s suitability to retain viable seeds for the US Intermountain West. With a focus on understanding how the chemical, physical, and climatological properties impact soil seed-bank suitability, Schroeder will characterize how rangeland seed banks may influence how a site responds to disturbance or management practices. Understanding and mapping soil seed-bank suitability for rangelands can help land managers, ecological-restoration practitioners, and others plan restoration seeding efforts that may be more resilient in the face of increasingly variable environmental conditions.

2022 Kate Abbott

The Garden Club of America Fellowship in Ecological Restoration

Resilient River Restoration: Small Dam Removal as a Tool to Enhance Ecological and Community Resilience

Abbott’s project will quantify ecological responses to small dam removals across Massachusetts, including water quality, macroinvertebrates, and fish. Abbott will also evaluate the potential for dam removal to enhance both ecological and socioeconomic resilience to climate change. By incorporating stakeholder perspectives and socioeconomic metrics through surveys of practitioners, Abbott seeks to understand how this restoration approach may be used to enhance ecological and community resilience to climate change.

2022 Charlotte Reemts

The Garden Club of America Fellowship in Ecological Restoration

Does Long-Term Pyrodiversity Increase Plant Diversity in a Tallgrass Prairie?

Reemts’s research will help land managers achieve restoration goals. Interested in understanding how fire shapes plant communities, Reemts’s current project will investigate how tallgrass prairie, which was created and maintained by fire before colonization, responds to varied fire regimes. With only two percent of Texas tallgrass prairie remaining, Reemts believes that prairie management is vital to protecting the plants and animals that rely on prairies.

2021 Sarah M. Klionsky

The Garden Club of America Fellowship in Ecological Restoration
School: PhD candidate in Natural Resources and the Environment, University of Connecticut

Influence of Plant Community Traits and Microtopography on Nitrogen Removal in Restored Wetlands on Former Cranberry Bogs

Klionsky’s research focuses on outcomes of wetland restoration on former agricultural land. She works in retired cranberry bogs, studying abiotic controls on vegetation response and how vegetation and microtopography interact to impact nitrogen dynamics. She aims to understand whether plant community traits can be used to predict denitrification potential and how photogrammetric imaging can help scale results up to larger areas. Her results will inform ongoing wetland restoration planning and design.


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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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