The Vision and planning for a Garden Club of Alabama Scholarship in Horticulture began in 1954 during the Administration of GCA President Mrs. Walter Thompson.  At this very same time, a high-school senior in Opelika, Alabama, Claud Brown, had a dream of attending Alabama Polytechnic Institute (Auburn) to study Ornamental Horticulture, but needed money.  He had already started a small florist in Opelika.  As fate would have it, the secretary at his high school was a garden club member and knew about the scholarship.  Claud applied and was granted a $250 scholarship.  Quarterly tuition at API was $45.

     GCA awarded a scholarship while at the same time contributing to a fund to establish a permanent endowment.  In 1959, GCA reached its goal and the endowment was funded. It was named the Garden Club of Alabama Horticulture Award.  That same year, a second scholarship was jointly funded by GCA and Dr. L. M. Ware, Chairman of the Horticulture Department at API, in memory of Dr. Ware’s wife, Mary Hall Ware.  We continued and in 1977, GCA endowed a scholarship in Landscape Design, and two years later the L. M. Ware Memorial Scholarship in Horticulture was established in tribute to Dr. Ware.
A fifth scholarship in Forestry Conservation was established in 1978.  However, in 1962 GCA actually gave a grant for $400 in Forestry. The sixth was added in 1988 in memory of Verna Ruffin, GCA’s second president and member of Perry Garden Club.
    During GCA State Convention in 2006, President Jackie Quisenberry invited Claud Brown as a special guest. He had retired after 50 years from his Florist and Landscaping business.  He presented a check to the GCA for the $250 that started his horticultural journey.  From a meager $250, the Garden Club of Alabama endowments grew.   As of December 2011 the endowments had a Book Value of $330,388 and a Market Value of $396,824.  Since records of recipients began being kept in 1977,  GCA has awarded over 200 scholarships.
    In 1954, the GCA could only have dreamed that their $250 scholarship would have such an impact and create a legacy for generations yet to come. Claud’s was not the only story, only the beginning.   We are continuing to add to that legacy and now hold the keys for future dreams with our continued support and contributions.
In 1954, the Garden Club of Alabama, Inc. began this wonderful commitment of providing scholarships.  Beginning with just one scholarship of $250 in 1954, we now have six endowed scholarships with a book value as of December 31, 2013, of $351,504.38 and a market value of $485,238.10.  These funds allowed us to present scholarships totaling $16,217 for 2014-2015.
     Even though this is large endowment, it would not take long to deplete if we do not continue to keep it strong.  The greater the investment, the greater the amount of the scholarships we can provide.  With the increasing cost of attending college, the more important our scholarships become to these students.

    You are the backbone of this endeavor and with your support we will continue to provide scholarships for generations to come.  Your gifts, memorials, honorariums, and life memberships continue to support this most important legacy of GCA.  Hopefully, a future scholarship chairman may write that our program is now 100 years old and growing.  Just remember what a difference you have made and will continue to make in the lives of so many young men and women.

Nell Copeland, (2013-2014 Scholarship Chair)