Pinelands Garden Club awards yearly scholarship

Sara Mayer, a Shawnee student, has received the $1,000 scholarship.

The Pinelands Garden Club is a nonprofit that was started in 1971 and has been growing ever since. The club was started by women in the area with a common goal of figuring out how to make plants grow in the Pinelands.

The members of the PGC are also members of the Garden Club of New Jersey and the National Garden Club, and meetings are hosted to present the members with the opportunity to share ideas with fellow gardeners, participate in horticultural classes and network with guest speakers.

The PCG has 65 members and follows a “native” theme throughout its projects.

This year, President Carol Milich chose a theme as a way to welcome pollinators such as bees, butterflies and birds into gardens around the community.

Milich has been a member since 2008, has been president for the past two years, and was vice president and secretary in years prior.

“A lot of the gardeners are concerned about environmental issues, and we’re concerned that bees and butterflies and other wildlife are losing their habitat,” Milich said. “We want to teach people that we need to plant native plants to take care of our wildlife.”

She has accomplished her goal as president by implementing a pollinator garden located at Still Park off of Main Street in Medford. At the gazebo located in the same park, the club maintains a colonial herb garden, where one school a year visits for information on how colonists used herbs.

The members of PGC dedicate a lot of time to civic beautification, including the maintenance of a small garden outside of the Medford Post Office and the Pinelands Branch Library. In addition, they visit two residential care facilities three times per year, and recently had an “Afternoon Floral Tea,” drawing 120 guests, where raffle baskets were donated.

Club member and Shamong resident Lynne Emmons has been a part of the PGC for 10 years. She held the position of treasurer for four years, corresponding secretary for four years and has been a chairperson on multiple committees within the organization.

Since there is not a garden club in Shamong, she researched clubs nearby and joined the PGC after seeing how involved it is in community outreach programs.

“We are a very supportive group for each other in and out of the club. I love the club and the members, they are a hardworking group of women who care about our community and each other,” Emmons said.

Since Medford has been a Tree City USA community for 40 years, a promise has been made to maintain that title, where an Arbor Day celebration is to be held each year at a nearby elementary school. Fourth-grade students are given a seedling and care information at the celebration, and they participate in the annual tree planting ceremony.

Most of the club’s funds come from its annual plant sale. There are hanging baskets, perennials, herbs, planters and more for sale each year. The funds support club expenses, outreach events, beautification projects and the annual $1,000 scholarship.

Seniors attending high schools in the Lenape Regional High School District (Seneca, Shawnee, Cherokee and Lenape) or vocational schools in the area, who are pursuing majors in agriculture, botany ecology, environmental studies, floral design, floral design, forestry, horticulture, landscaping, watershed management, or related fields of studies are eligible to apply.

This year’s scholarship will be awarded to Sara Mayer, a senior at Shawnee High School, who will be attending the University of Maryland, College Park in the fall. She will be majoring in animal science and is interested in biotechnology, agriculture and toxicology.

She has completed more than 575 hours of volunteer service at Cedar Run Wildlife Refuge, Medford Animal Hospital and St. Mary of the Lakes Church. She holds a weighted GPA of 5.51 and is active in Shawnee’s organizations, being a member of the National Honor Society, Animal Welfare Club, Biology Club and Culinary Club.

Mayer will be honored at a luncheon event on June 11, where she will receive the $1,000 scholarship.

“It is a great honor. This scholarship helps me pursue my dream of becoming a veterinarian and allows me to explore my interests and learn more about the world with greater ease,” Mayer said. “I appreciate the recognition for my academic and volunteer efforts and am grateful to be receiving this scholarship.”

The PGC meets on the second Monday of the month at 10 a.m. at Medford Leas Auditorium, from September through June, and new members from all towns are welcome. For more information, please visit