From the Steering Committee:
Is it just me or did January just disappear? Like a small puddle giving way to a large stone? Here in the Piedmont of NC it has been overly wet these past 6 weeks or so. Lots of puddles. An abundance of grey mornings. Normally, I’m not opposed to a good soaking, but it has been crazy wet over here. Almost 5 inches of rain last month, half that already this month, it’s made the winter chore list a challenge to complete. All those galoshed feet squishing into sleepy garden soil…
So, how do we turn from all this gloom and gloam? Where is our sunny beacon of hope? I’m so glad you asked. Our thoughts turn to summer and the Cullowhee Native Plant Conference! Well, yes, of course. I thought y’all might like to know a bit about our scholarship program. That’s right, we offer scholarships! Pretty awesome, I know.
The Conference awards between 16 and 20 of these scholarships each year. Our Scholarship Coordinator, Preston Montague was kind enough to fill me in on some of the details. Here’s a little Q&A for ya…
What is covered by a scholarship?
Full scholarships cover room, board, and conference registration including the Wednesday field trip. Half scholarships are also available.
Who may apply?
Anyone with an interest and a need. Our target audience however, is students, beginning professionals, and professionals who are looking to pivot their work towards a greater support of native plants.
What do scholarship recipients have to do at the Conference?
Full participation is expected. This includes attending talks, workshops and walks, provide support to vendors and presenters as needed, participate in the talent show (it’s a blast…ask anyone), and support one another with wayfinding and networking.
When is the deadline to apply?
April 19, 2020. A link to the online application form will be posted on the Cullowhee Native Plant Conference website soon!
I was able to speak with a recipient from last year, Ali Touloupas, conservation intern at the North Carolina Botanical Garden. I asked her for a memory from 2019:
“Not sure I have a specific memory that stands out, but I do have to say that meeting the other scholarship folks was a very awesome experience. It was nice to have a crew to attend workshops and nerd out with. Everyone was so friendly and enthusiastic and it made me feel comfortable being around amazing botanists and ecologists instead of intimidated!”
And this from Bret Bates, a first-time attendee from the great state of Louisiana:
“It would be hard from me to describe the experience with just a couple of sentences. It was like an amusement park for anyone who cares, really cares, about our environment. Everyone there challenged me to really educate myself as it relates to mother nature and conservation. It certainly has changed the way I model my life.”
Well alright! All that and we have plants! Lots of plants! I know y’all are as excited about the upcoming conference as I am. And I bet you’re wondering who else might be speaking. We shared a few names with you last posting. Here’s another teaser:
Wildflowers of the Atlantic Southeast was recently released by Timber Press. We are thrilled to have Laura Cotterman, Damon Waitt, and Alan Weakley joining us this summer to discuss their incredible work. Laura Cotterman is a professional botanist and editor, having worked with the NC Plant Conservation Program, NC Natural Heritage Program and the NC Botanical Garden. Dr. Damon Waitt is currently Director at the NC Botanical Garden and Professor of the Practice in Biology at UNC Chapel Hill. He served previously as Senior Director and Botanist at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at the University of Texas in Austin. Dr. Alan Weakley is currently Director of the UNC Herbarium and Adjunct Associate Professor of Biology at UNC Chapel Hill. He has worked with the NC Natural Heritage Program, The Nature Conservancy, and NatureServe.
Pow! Remember, the 2020 Conference will be July 22 – 25. Registration will open online April 1st!
Until next time folks, keep your feets toasty and your roots moisty!