Sunday, October 24, 2021

Calusa Garden Club Awards Scholarship and Trip to Marco Students

Calusa Garden Club of Marco Island awards a college scholarship annually to a high school senior who resides on Marco Island. This year’s scholarship recipient is Madeline (Maddie) Grucci, a graduating senior of St. John Neumann Catholic High School. In addition, the Garden Club sponsors a fourth or fifth grade student from Tommie Barfield Elementary School for a week-long residential camp. Fifth-grade student Jereslyn (Jeri) Lerma is the recipient of the campership to Camp Wekiva, a camp sponsored by Florida Federation of Garden Clubs.

Marianne Foley of the Calusa Garden Club with Jeri Lerma and her father.

Calusa Garden Club Scholarship Chairperson Marianne Foley met with Maddie Grucci and her father Kyle Grucci at Mackle Park recently. Foley awarded the $750 check to Maddie while her father looked on. When asked about her plans for college, Grucci said she has not decided which university to attend, but she has been accepted at several, including Berry College and Boston College, among others. Grucci will major in biological sciences. Acknowledging that she has a few more years to study before she decides on her career, Grucci said she will be pursuing a graduate degree in either medicine or the laboratory sciences. Grucci said she was very grateful for the Calusa Garden Club scholarship and thanked the Club for its help with her college expenses.

Jereslyn (Jeri) Lerma, who is a fifth-grade student at Tommie Barfield Elementary School and a member of the Calusa Garden Club-sponsored after school group Junior Gardeners, was surprised to receive her campership to Camp Wekiva. Mrs. Foley attended a recent meeting of Junior Gardeners and surprised Jeri by having Jeri’s father come to the meeting to congratulate her.

Wekiva Youth Camp is a co-educational summer overnight nature camp sponsored by the Florida Federation of Garden Clubs. Jeri said on her application for the campership that she loves plants and animals and looks forward to spending all day learning about them at camp. Her winning application for the campership contained the emphatic statement: “NATURE ROCKS!” Sessions of the one-week camp are held throughout June and July at Wekiwa Springs State Park, about 20 miles north of Orlando. Wekiva Youth Camp’s purpose is to instill in Florida youth a love and respect for Florida nature through nature study, conservation and protection of our environment. Wekiva Youth Camp is accredited by the American Camp Association.

Calusa Garden Club of Marco Island is a member of the Florida Federation of Garden Clubs. Membership is open to persons interested in horticulture, floral design and environmental matters residing five months or more in Collier County.

Calusa Garden Club of Marco Island meets the second Monday of each month, October through March, at Wesley United Methodist Church Fellowship Hall, 350 S. Barfield Drive, Marco Island. Business meetings begin at 12:30 PM and programs begin at 1:15 PM. Calusa Garden Club welcomes visitors interested in our educational programs and visitors interested in membership.

Contact the Garden Club at, or on the Garden Club’s website,, or visit the Club’s Facebook page Calusa Garden Club.

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