August 1, 2022 /
Christina Hester

GCA Scholarship Winners are in!

Founded in 1913, The Garden Club of America (GCA) is a volunteer nonprofit organization comprised of almost 200 member clubs and approximately 18,000 club members throughout the country. To promote a greater understanding of the interdependence of horticulture, environmental protection, and community involvement, GCA offers 28 different merit-based scholarships and annually awards over $300,000. We help administer, unsurprisingly, the Urban Forestry Scholarship. 

The goal of the scholarship is to advance the field of urban forestry by encouraging students to study the planning, management, horticulture and ecology of urban forests and the effect of healthy urban forests on people and the environment. 

This year, the scholarship was awarded to three individuals who have proven their passion and skill in the field. Congratulations to Jess Shamek, Elise Marie Willis, and Kristine Lorenzo for becoming the 2022 recipients of the Garden Club of America Zone VI Fellowship in Urban Forestry. 

Jess Shamek – Oregon White Oak Resilience in a Changing Climate 

Using bioinformatics to determine genetic diversity and differentiation, Shamek’s research will assess the population genetic structure, regeneration, and adaptive plasticity of Quercus garryana in the Portland metro region. Shamek will investigate how urbanization, climate, and landscape influence diversity. Findings will directly inform the adaptive management of an urban forest and provide a framework for regional land managers to gauge the resilience of tree populations in the face of climate change. 


Elise Marie Willis – Greening Development: Curbing Urban Tree-Canopy Loss and Increasing Green Infrastructure Adoption through Incentives 

Willis’s project aims to find solutions to Florida’s decades-long, development-induced tree-canopy loss. Through interviews with land developers across the state, Willis will identify what incentives would encourage planting, preservation, and prioritization of trees in development projects. Willis hopes the finding will provide local governments with data to guide future policy discussions. 

Kristine Lorenzo – How Does Community Stewardship Impact the Survival of Planted Trees? 

Lorenzo will explore the interactions of socioecological factors that influence the survival of recently planted trees. Researching how community stewardship regimes impact the outcomes of tree-planting initiatives, the project will center on a multiorganizational collaborative urban-forestry project in northwest Indiana. Findings will provide actionable metrics and data to on-the-ground stakeholders seeking to wisely use limited urban-forest resources.