Rochester Garden Club Gives Outdoor Camp Scholarships

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Chace catches a "keeper"
Chace catches a “keeper” (from Kristen Browe)

The Rochester Garden Club has initiated a new scholarship program for elementary school students in the Rochester area this year. As a part of its mission, the club supports environmental education and is especially interested in helping students of all ages experience the natural world. Graduating seniors receive scholarships toward college degrees in environmental studies, middle school students are sent to a weeklong 4-H sponsored sleep away camp for environmental education and now elementary students can attend the “Nature Discovery Camp” hosted by the City of Rochester Hills.

In late June, Chace Browe (age 7) enjoyed his outdoor experience with the help of naturalists at Bloomer Park. He had great fun observing “the biggest crayfish” in the water and wanted to pet the wild turkeys they found (he was not allowed). But his favorite experiences were fishing and tie dying tee shirts. When asked if he learned anything new, he remarked “Yes. I forgot but I know I learned something I didn’t know.” Chace hopes he can go back next year.

Chace’s parents, Kristen and Nick Browe are grateful for the opportunity for Chace to get outside and experience nature first-hand, and are glad there are programs available for the younger students.

As a local nonprofit, Rochester Garden Club is pleased to offer these experiences to encourage our future environmentalists. In addition to scholarship programs, the club serves the community in the areas of conservation, education, horticulture therapy, and civic improvement. Funds for these projects come from sales at the annual Gifts and Greens Market. Due to the covid restrictions, this year the market will move online. Holiday arrangements and handmade gifts can be purchased between November 15 and 25 with pick up for all items on December 4 and 5 at the Rochester Fire Department on Second Street. Go to or Facebook for details.

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Sunflowers for scholarships — Wauconda Garden Club finds fundraising alternative

The COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact on many suburban organizations and clubs, forcing the cancellation of meetings, events and fundraisers.

Among those affected was the Wauconda Garden Club, which had to call off its annual flower sale normally held in May at the Cook House on Main Street. Proceeds from sale benefit the club’s activities, along with a scholarship fund for Wauconda High School seniors.



Although the club has held auctions and raffles to boost the scholarship program — which awards $500 to one or two graduating seniors — it needed to find alternative ways to raise money.

“Maureen Berger to the rescue” said club Secretary Sue Ravenscraft said.

Berger, a longtime club member, offered her small sunflower field on the north side of Route 176 at Westridge Drive in Island Lake as a way to bring in more donations.

A sign posted along Westridge says the sunflowers can be bought for $1 per stem, with proceeds benefiting the scholarship fund. Money is collected at nearby Sofia’s Mexican Restaurant, 640 E. State Road in Island Lake.

The club took to social media to spread the word.

“It seemed to spark some joy and happiness, which to me is what sunflowers do,” club member Nan Bero said. “So in these times I think this was wonderful, and I passed by yesterday and it looks so beautiful to see.”



Ravenscraft said scholarship applicants are reviewed by a committee that weighs several factors: grades, community service, sports, work, hardships and field of study in college, among others.

The club was founded in 1975, and members work on community projects, including the redesign of planters along Main Street and maintaining the Blue Star memorial in Wauconda’s Memorial Park.

“Our club strives to accomplish several things. We want to educate, learn and share in area of horticulture and promote civic beauty” Ravenscraft said. “We want to give back to the community and its residents.”


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