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At Stony Brook Garden Club, we are passionate about preserving and nurturing our environment for future generations. 

Chair:         Rona MacInnes

The Elly and Giorgio Petronio - Stony Brook Garden Club Environmental Award funded by the Elly and Giorgio Petronio Fund of the Princeton Area Community Foundation

This $1,000 award, established in 2006, is available to a junior or senior attending a high school in the greater Princeton area who demonstrates a passion for and a commitment to our environment. He/she must have been actively involved in one or more of the following: research, advocacy, horticulture, protection or improvement of our natural world. Elly and Giorgio Petronio have been longtime Princeton residents and Elly has been a devoted member of the Stony Brook Garden Club since 1981. As a member of the Garden Club of America since 1941, the Stony Brook Garden Club has promoted its mission to stimulate the knowledge and love of gardening and to restore, improve and protect the quality of the environment through programs and action in the fields of conservation, civic improvement and education.

Apply online here or download the form and send it to Rona MacInnes (

Elly and Giorgio Petronio-Stony Brook Garden Club Environmental Award Winner 2022


We received 8 applications in 2022, all showing a keen awareness for the challenges we face due to climate change and environmental degradation, with projects such as starting a natural history club at school, joining community environmental justice and climate advocacy groups to clearing local trails of invasive plants, stream clean-ups, upcycling drives and creating a school butterfly sanctuary. The $1000 prize went to Matthew Livingston from Princeton HS who showed an awareness of the effects of climate change globally and on food insecurity in particular. Matthew applied his talents and passions for the environment, cooking and insects in innovative and practical ways. 


In 10th grade Matthew started an insect eating club at PHS to raise awareness about food insecurity and educate fellow students about the benefits of insects as a food source on the environment and he has presented at climate fairs and to elementary schools where they call him The Bug Guy. He has tried different recipes and conducted insect tastings in his backyard. While the pandemic made things harder for him, the 2021 cicada emergence was a boon! He and his fellow club mates were out gathering cicadas, which they would then roast and cover in chocolate, or grind up into brownies and cookies!


He also worked with the Rutgers University food science lab on the safety of insects for human consumption and had an article published in the University’s Vision magazine, called ‘The Future of Food and Feed’. 


In addition, he was the team leader of a group of PHS students who developed a food waste bioreactor using black soldier flies.  Black soldier flies feed on organic material and their larvae can be used as high protein animal feed and fertilizer. The oil from the larvae can also be used in food or to make soap. These bioreactors made from inexpensive recycled materials can be used in communities where slash and burn agriculture is common contributing to climate change. They have entered two high profile competitions and have recently been declared a national winner of the Samsung Solve For Tomorrow competition.

2021 Winner

Thank you to all the Junior and Senior High School students who submitted applications for this award.  In spite of an academic year severely disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic we had a record number of applicants from surrounding high schools including Princeton High School, The Hun School, PDS,  The Lawrenceville School, West Windsor- Plainsboro High School and Montgomery High School.  The breadth of fields the students worked on was impressive. The $1000 prize went to Aurora Yuan of Princeton High School. Holding leadership roles in many environmental organizations, both local and national, Aurora is a passionate advocate against climate change, environmental degradation and social injustice. Aurora is now studying at the University of Pennsylvania


2020 Winners

Catherine McDonnell, a student at Princeton High School, was awarded for her efforts in scientific research by examining the effect of microplastics on marine ecosystems. Her findings have the potential to not only raise environmental awareness but to truly impact our planet.

Saniya Patel of West Windsor- Plainsboro High School won for her involvement in environmental advocacy.  Her passion and commitment to work tirelessly in organising climate action initiatives raises awareness and truly impacts all our futures.

For more information on the scholarship, please contact Rona MacInnes (

The Caroline Thorn Kissel Summer Environmental Studies Scholarship

This scholarship of $3000 is awarded to undergraduates, graduate students, advanced degree candidates or non degree seeking applicants above high school level and aims to support environmental studies students who are residents of New Jersey or non residents studying in New Jersey.  Established in 2003, Frances Starr Todd determined that a GCA  scholarship dedicated to environmental study would be a fitting tribute to her great grandmother, Caroline Thorn Kissel and her beloved state of New Jersey.  It was Ms Todd's wish that a scholarship be named after her great grandmother.  


For more information and to apply, click here.

The Elizabeth Abernathy Hull Award

The Garden Club of America's Elizabeth Abernathy Hull Award annually recognizes the outstanding achievements of individuals furthering the early environmental education of children. Established in 1992, the Hull Award provides $1,000 to chosen recipients who honor Miss Hull's common sense approach to environmental awareness by inspiring children under 16 to appreciate the beauty and fragility of our planet. 


Administered by GCA's Scholarship Committee, the Hull Award is open to GCA members and non-members alike; however, individuals may not propose themselves. A woman ahead of her time, Miss Hull (1900 – 1996) was an active member of the Ridgefield Garden Club and credited her mother and grandmother with instilling her own passion for the environment. Members of GCA clubs may propose a candidate.


For more information, click here

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