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Student Sponsorship Program

Application and Recommendation links at bottom of page


The Scholarship Program has been an important part of the Cullowhee Conference since the conference began in 1984. Approximately 20 scholarships to the Cullowhee Conference are annually awarded to students, interns at botanical gardens, nature centers and/or parks, and to beginning professionals in a native plant-related field. Also, the Scholarship Program is open to applicants with careers in environmental and science education. Any individual in these categories who can demonstrate an interest in native plants and their use in the landscape - through horticulture, botany, ecology, landscape architecture/design, education, or a related field - is encouraged to apply for a scholarship.


Winners are expected to actively engage with conference attendees; donate some of their time to assist during the conference; and participate in all conference activities. Scholarship winners, if not on a field trip, help vendors set up on Wednesday afternoon, staff the Plant Holding Area table during the conference, run plants during Plants of Promise, assist conference attendees to their cars with plants, and help vendors load at the end of the conference on Saturday. Additionally, a Scholarship Meet & Greet is held on Tuesday evening after registration and scholarship recipients and special awards are introduced on stage during the opening conference introductions.


The scholarship package includes registration fee, a shared room and single bed, all meals during the conference, and field trip expenses if field trip (FT) attendance is selected. We offer the option of full and partial scholarships. Full scholarship covers the cost of the entire scholarship package. Partial scholarship recipients agree to cover half of the expenses related to their attendance choice ($240-FT or $172.50 non-FT).


The deadline for scholarship applications is midnight, Sunday, April 12, 2020. Applications received after this time will be considered only after punctual and complete applications have been judged and awarded. Applications without the information requested, which includes recommendations, are incomplete and will be considered late. NOTE that this deadline is right at the end of the semester, so factor in the time needed writing your application and asking for your letter of reference.

Scholarship awards will be made by email in May.
Applications are to be submitted by the link at the end of the page. If necessary, contact Preston Montague for instructions as to how to submit an email or printed copy.
Preston Montague
Cullowhee Scholarship Committee


Annual contributions to the Scholarship Program come from the proceeds of the conference, nursery men and women who sell plants during the conference, donations of honoraria from the speakers and field trip leaders at the conference, and private contributors. Additionally, The French Broad River Garden Club Foundation (Asheville), The Botanical Gardens at Asheville, and the North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Tennessee, and Georgia Native Plant Societies have sponsored sponsorships for individuals from the respective states. Contributions to the Cullowhee Sponsorship Program are welcome at any time and greatly appreciated. If you or your organization would like to make a contribution please contact Preston Montague at

The Janie Leonard Bryan Native Plant Conference Endowment Sponsorship, created in 2014 by gifts from family and friends, honors the memory of Janie Leonard Bryan. Janie passed away in October 2013 after a decade-long battle with breast cancer. She was one of the original attendees of the conference and an avid native plantswoman who dedicated 25 years to the North Carolina Botanical Garden at UNC-Chapel Hill. Janie's Sponsorship ensures the brightest and best student or beginning professional a place at the Cullowhee Native Plant Conference. The winner of the award is announced at the conference and is selected from the applicant pool.

The C. Ritchie Bell Award, created in 2015 by a gift from Robert Edward Wyatt and Ann Hudson Stoneburner, honors the memory of C. Ritchie Bell, the first Director of the North Carolina Botanical Garden at UNC-Chapel Hill. An active and influential scientist, Bell enthusiastically advanced the appreciation and conservation of native plants, especially in the southeastern United States. The C. Ritchie Bell Award insures that a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill student and/or young professional at the North Carolina Botanical Garden has a place at the Cullowhee Native Plant Conference. The winner of the award is announced at the conference and is selected from the applicant pool.

The Cullowhee Conference is honored to be aligned with our scholarship hosts in expanding our knowledge of native plants and their ecology, native plant landscaping, environmental sustainability, and the conservation and wise use of all of our natural resources. The Cullowhee Conference is committed to the ongoing expansion of the Sponsorship Program and to the active involvement of the sponsorship winners in the conference.

Interested in making a donation to our sponsorship program? 



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