For the past 40 years, the Wellington Garden Club has been committed to the beautification of the community while also supporting local students studying horticulture, environmental science or related fields of study.
Since the inception of its long-standing scholarship program, the Wellington Garden Club has awarded a total of $34,175 to promising students, and in this most unusual of years, that tradition continued.
“The scholarship committee accepts the applications, and then we interview all of the candidates and make our decisions. Usually, we conduct face-to-face interviews. Of course, this year, interviews were done virtually,” said Maria Wolfe, first vice president of the Wellington Garden Club.
Under the leadership of Scholarship Chair John Siena, the Wellington Garden Club chose three recipients to receive $1,000 each for the current academic year.
Lauren Miles began her education at Palm Beach State College in what would have been her eighth-grade year. She excelled in her studies, making it to both the President’s List and the Dean’s List, then matriculated to Florida Atlantic University to continue her studies in environmental science.
Raaz Bhatia, an incoming freshman at the University of Central Florida, graduated from Wellington High School with a 3.98 GPA. While there, she served as vice president of the National Technical Honor Society and was a member of the math, technical, science, social studies and Spanish honor societies, as well as band and chorus. When not studying, Bhatia works with disadvantaged children through her church.
Georgia Brooks successfully completed two years of coursework at Santa Fe College in Gainesville and has now matriculated to the University of Florida to complete her education in the field of environmental science. In fact, she was a previous recipient of a scholarship from the Wellington Garden Club.
“We expect Georgia will have a positive impact in stewardship of our environment,” Siena said. “Her determination to further her education in environmental science is commendable.”
Brooks is proud of her association with the club.
“The Wellington Garden Club scholarship is very important to me because I really am invested in the environment,” she said. “Initially, I was involved in the garden club at Palm Beach Central High School, and it was there that I got introduced to the Wellington Garden Club. This is actually my second year getting the scholarship because I graduated high school in 2019. Now, I’m majoring in environmental engineering at the University of Florida. I do have Bright Futures, which takes care of my tuition, but there are a lot of other fees. I’ve been using the scholarship mostly for textbooks. With the coronavirus, a lot of extracurriculars have been put on hold, but I hope to get back to gardening and recycling soon.”
This year’s honorees are expected to do great things in the future.
“Each of the scholarship recipients has qualities that bode well for the potential impact they will have on our community,” Wolfe said.
Since its founding in 1981, the Wellington Garden Club has worked to educate its own members as well as the public in the fields of gardening, horticulture, botany, floral design, landscape design and environmental awareness through the conservation of natural resources, civic beautification and nature studies.
This year, a plant exchange was safely held at a local park where members could swap plants, perhaps adding something to their garden landscape that had not been there before.
Perseverance through adversity is the lesson being offered to the scholarship recipients.
“Our members are getting an opportunity to spend time in their home gardens,” Wolfe said. “When many return from their second homes up north, we will resume our meetings, although I assume the September and October meetings will be held virtually.”
No one knows what the next year will bring, but it certainly will include another class of Wellington Garden Club scholarship honorees.
“We intend to continue our commitment to helping worthy scholars further their education,” Siena said. “The Wellington Garden Club is proud of its efforts to instill in youth the love of gardening and the respect and protection of the environment.”
For more information about the Wellington Garden Club, visit www.wellingtongardenclub.org.