Pinelands Garden Club is currently accepting scholarship applications

Students can apply for the $1,500 scholarship by April 26.

Pinelands Garden Club is planting seeds of knowledge in the minds of high school seniors by offering a $1,500 scholarship to those in the Lenape High School District and the Burlington County Institute of Technology.

To apply, students must be pursuing a career in agriculture education, floriculture, landscape design, botany biology, plant pathology, agronomy, city planning — rural or urban, habitat for forests, environmental concerns and management and related studies.

The guidance counselor at each school will be able to provide students with an application to be postmarked by April 26.

Students will be required to submit their school transcripts and provide a letter to the scholarship committee explaining why they chose the career field they’re interested in, what their long-term future career plans are and any other information they feel would be helpful to the committee in making a decision.

The committee anticipates selecting a winner within a week of receiving all applications, and the winner will be presented a check at the luncheon celebration to be held on June 10.

Scholarship chair Susanna Ciliano said one of the main reasons the garden club presents an annual scholarship is to carry on the mission of Ellen Roche, founder of the club in 1971, who had the main goal of “education and action.”

“We do this so we can plant the seeds of people who would be interested in continuing their knowledge of gardening, natural resources, plant materials, civic conservation, beautification and to protect the trees, plants and animals unique to the Pinelands,” Ciliano said. “ We want to educate the youth on the benefits and pleasures of gardening and to work in a field that gives them pleasure but also helps our environment.”

Ciliano first got involved in the garden club about four years ago as a way to fully invest in her lifelong love of gardening she was unable to give her full attention to throughout her career as a nurse.

She said gardening is “in her blood,” stemming from her late father’s love of gardening throughout his life. She said he would grow vegetables and provide them to his neighbors, and that inspired Ciliano to want to give back.

“He gave back, and I guess that has always stuck with me — you want to give back to your community — the scholarship is one way of me continuing with the garden club to give back to the community,” Ciliano said.

The scholarship is funded through the club’s annual plant sale held on Mother’s Day weekend, along with “The Afternoon Floral Tea” on April 6, which is sold out.

Ciliano said each year the club expands the scholarship opportunity to more fields of study, and this year it increased the scholarship amount by $500.

“I know there’s someone out there who’s going to continue to work in the environment and also just to help them out,” Ciliano said. “College is so expensive now, so many students have to take out loans and it’s a financial hardship for most families, so the most satisfaction I get is in helping them financially to achieve the goals they want to achieve.”

For further information, email skciliano@comcast.net. Those interested in joining the Pinelands Garden Club can attend its monthly meetings the second Monday of every month at 9:30 a.m. at the Medford Leas auditorium.