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GCA Scholarships Recipients


2023 Diane Klement

The Frances M. Peacock Scholarship for Native Bird Habitat
School: Master’s student, Natural Resources and Forestry, University of Georgia

Linking Avian Demography to Plant Communities Through Fine-Scale Space Use

To halt the rapid decline of migratory birds, Klement seeks to understand which plants provide high-quality avian habitats and should be actively targeted in conservation efforts. Research will use new tracking technologies and corresponding space-use estimates to accurately quantify habitat quality for painted buntings, a declining neotropical migratory bird. By identifying which plant species provide preferred habitat during breeding season, Klement’s project will determine how ecological restoration efforts can utilize fine-scale space-use data to restore specific plants associated with habitat quality for other bird species.


2023 Bridget Re

The Frances M. Peacock Scholarship for Native Bird Habitat
School: PhD candidate in Fish and Wildlife Conservation, Virginia Tech

Understanding the Role of Acoustic Signals for Assessing Predator Risk in an Understudied Southern Population of Saltmarsh Sparrows

To prevent further population decline of native-bird habitat, Re aspires to better understand predator risk assessment and how it relates to the implementation of effective management strategies. Re will focus on the saltmarsh sparrow, a tidal marsh obligate songbird endemic to the narrow Atlantic coastal strip from Maine to Florida. Re will focus on low reproductive success and the loss of high marsh nesting habitat, two threats facing the species.


2023 Sage Levy

The Frances M. Peacock Scholarship for Native Bird Habitat
School: PhD candidate in Biology, Tufts University

Behavioral Interactions Between Hemiboreal Setophaga Warblers and their Implications for Species-Specific Habitat Selection

Using playback experiments, Levy will test a behavioral interaction between three hemiboreal Setophaga warblers that has been hypothesized to influence species-specific habitat selection. Together with surveys of bird population densities and forest vegetation from 1992–93 and 2021–22, the experiments will allow Levy to explore the role of interspecies interactions in habitat selection within the broader context of landscape-scale change in forest structure and avian assemblage composition.

2022 Carol Gause

The Frances M. Peacock Scholarship for Native Bird Habitat

Effects of Land Management on Breeding Success, Dispersal, and Population Genetics of a Threatened Freshwater Marsh Bird, the King Rail

Gause’s research will investigate the breeding success and population genetics of the king rail, a threatened freshwater marsh bird whose species has been declining throughout its range for over 50 years. Gause will contribute to a long-term king-rail monitoring project at Mackay Island National Wildlife Refuge and will collaborate with researchers across the eastern United States to compare king-rail populations using next-generation sequencing.

2022 Kyle Rosenblad

The Frances M. Peacock Scholarship for Native Bird Habitat

Restoring Climate-Resilient Bird Habitat by Harnessing Local Plant Evolutionary Potential

Rosenblad’s project will explore the physiology, ecology, and evolution of Lemmon’s willow, a shrub that is planted in the restoration of Sierra Nevada meadows and forms a critical breeding and migration habitat for vulnerable and declining bird species. By investigating drought tolerance, Rosenblad will identify factors that shape the shrub’s genetic variation in resistance to drought. This research will help restoration practitioners restore a bird habitat that will be resilient to climate change.

2021 Carl Pohlman

The Frances M. Peacock Scholarship for Native Bird Habitat
School: Master’s student, School of Forest Resources, University of Maine

Assessing the Long-term Effects of an Expanding Gap Silvicultural System on the Avian Assemblage at the Acadian Forest Ecosystem Research Program 

Pohlman’s research focuses on understanding how bird communities respond to an experimental forest harvest method based on the natural disturbance regime of the local forest; it aims to mimic natural processes such as tree mortality and changing forest structure. His work is conducted at the Penobscot Experimental Forest, located in Bradley and Eddington, Maine.


2021 Luke Matthew Douglas

The Frances M. Peacock Scholarship for Native Bird Habitat
School: Master’s student, School of Forest Resources, University of Maine

Rusty Blackbird Use of Commercial Spruce-Fir Forests of Northern New England

Douglas studies the Rusty Blackbird, one of the continent’s most rapidly declining songbirds, which breeds in young spruce-fir stands adjacent to freshwater wetlands. His work focuses on the potential impacts of commercial logging practices, such as clearcutting and pre-commercial thinning, on Rusty Blackbird nesting and on fledgling habitat selection and survival. These efforts will contribute to the development of new management guidelines for the species.


2020 Antonio Del Valle

The Frances M. Peacock Scholarship for Native Bird Habitat

Grassland Breeding Bird Communities: Impact of Bison and Prescribed Fire at Restored and Remnant Eastern Tallgrass Prairies

Antonio Del Valle is a master’s student in the Department of Biological Sciences at Northern Illinois University. His thesis research focuses on studying the impact that reintroduced bison and prescribed 
fire have on grassland breeding bird communities in tallgrass prairies in Illinois and Indiana. The study will involve surveying grassland birds 
and vegetation structure at different management units in the only three preserves that contain wild bison year-round in this region. Results from this research will provide insight to aid managers in the continued restoration of tallgrass prairies and conservation of these declining bird species.

2019 Joshua Driscoll

The Frances M. Peacock Scholarship for Native Bird Habitat

Joshua Driscoll is an undergraduate student at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. Driscoll’s research will utilize GPS trackers to monitor the migratory path of the eastern whip-poor-will, identifying where the species spends the winter. The winter habitat will then be compared to the breeding grounds using ArcGIS. This information will help identify speci c habitat requirements needed for whip-poor-wills so that conservation management plans can be established.

2019 Spencer Keyser

The Frances M. Peacock Scholarship for Native Bird Habitat

Spencer Keyser is a master’s student at the University of Texas Marine Science Institute. Using regional long-term data sets combined with local  eld surveys, he will investigate how climate-driven changes in coastal vegetation (i.e. marsh-mangrove shifts) will impact bird community composition and food web interactions across the Gulf of Mexico. Keyser believes understanding
how climate and vegetation shifts impact bird assemblages is crucial to conserving and predicting changes in current avian biodiversity across the Gulf of Mexico.

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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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