Saturday, December 4, 2021

Two MIA Seniors Recipients of Calusa Garden Club Scholarship Award

Photos by Maria Lamb | (L – R) Marianne Foley, Chairperson of CGC Scholarship Award, Scott Roloff, Grace Roloff (CGC scholarship recipient) Opi DeFalco, CGC member & TBE Junior Gardeners Program mentor, Sara Wolf, President of CGC.

Photo by Carrie Portu | Katie Portu, a newly minted MIA graduate headed to Florida Southern College.

The Calusa Garden Club of Marco Island awarded two college scholarships to two high school seniors who recently graduated from Marco Island Academy. The two recipients are Kathleen Teresa Portu and Grace Roloff.  

Marianne Foley, the Calusa Garden Club Scholarship Chairperson, presented each recipient with a check for $1,000 at the Butterfly Garden on Winterberry Drive.  

Katie is planning on a double major in Marine Biology and Environmental Science with a possibility of going into a “pre-vet track.” According to Chris Zumstein, Katie’s school counselor, Katie’s mother is a veterinarian in Marco Island and that is where Katie has developed an interest in caring for animals and learning about environmental issues. 

According to Katie, she would like to experience what it would take to work as a Florida Fish and Wildlife Officer or something along the lines of conservation. She would like to work as a biologist in marine mammal conservation or rescue. 

Katie has grown up in Southwest Florida in and around the water, and according to Katie, “protecting the environment would be an amazing way to give back and show appreciation for the place that gave me so much.” 

Grace Roloff attended Tommie Barfield Elementary School and participated with the Calusa Garden Club’s Junior Gardeners Program for 3 years. Opi DeFalco, a Calusa Garden Club member, was the coordinator of the program and remembered Grace. 

Lori Galiana, Chair of MIA’s Social Studies Department has known Grace for the last 4 years and had the pleasure of teaching and mentoring her. “Science is her passion, but she is just as gifted in social studies,” as Galiana statedGrace chose as her research topic because “To what extent is climate change responsible for decreases in seabird population?” 

The Calusa Garden Club Scholarship is geared towards students pursuing a degree in environmental studies that may include science, education, engineering, conservation, law and must be residents of Marco Island. Both Katie and Grace are the ideal candidates for the scholarship. 

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.  

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

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