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The RHS/GCA Interchange Fellowship


The RHS/GCA Interchange Fellowship is a reciprocal exchange programme, sponsored jointly by the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) in the UK, and by The Garden Club of America (GCA) in the USA, in association with Longwood Gardens, Pennsylvania, USA. Its aim – to foster British-American relations, promote horticultural studies and the exchange of information in this field, and of course to develop the horticultural and educational leaders of the future. 

News report on partnership celebration (558kB pdf)

Founded in 1948, more than 100 university graduates and student horticulturists have participated in the Interchange Fellowship programme and have gone on to hold leading positions in public garden management, horticulture, education, and landscape architecture. The opportunities available to the Interchange Fellows are unique in the horticultural field, and the network of alumni has become a lasting legacy.

A Fellowship Year: a year in the UK
As part of the exchange programme, an American student spends a year working and studying at leading horticultural centres (including historic and botanic gardens) in the UK, gaining valuable exposure to British horticultural techniques, as well as gaining a wide variety of contacts through the longstanding wealth of experience that the RHS has established within British and International Horticulture.

Applications for American students wishing to spend a year in the UK are handled directly by the GCA. For further information on the GCA, past American Fellows, including how to apply please click here.

See examples of historic and botanic gardens where work placements may be undertaken. (11kB pdf)

A Fellowship Year: a year in the USA
Who can apply?

The scheme is open to British university graduates with a degree in horticulture, landscape architecture, botany or environmental studies (final-year students expecting to graduate the following summer may also apply), and to British student horticulturists in possession of a recognised horticultural qualification (Diploma/HND or equivalent).

What are the options available?

As a graduate you may apply to either attend the first year of a Masters programme at a university in the USA, or to undertake a 12-month internship at Longwood Gardens, Pennsylvania, USA.
As a student horticulturist you may apply to undertake a 12-month internship at Longwood Gardens, Pennsylvania, USA.

  • The Masters Course (open to graduates only)

If a Masters programme is pursued, you will have the option to choose from a wide range of fields related to horticulture, botany, landscape architecture and environmental studies. A list of the available universities will be given to you at interview and if you are successful, advice will be given on selecting the place of study.
Any successful applicant for the Masters placement must sit the GRE (Graduate Record Examination) general test, which is a mandatory requirement for all applications to universities in the USA. Sample tests are available and advice will be given on making university applications.
Please note that it is not usually possible to gain an American Master’s Degree in one year. However, students have often procured funds from elsewhere in order to complete the programme.

  • Internship at Longwood Gardens (open to all)

This is a 12-month highly structured, stimulating and exciting non-academic practical work programme commencing in September of each year at the world renowned Longwood Gardens, Pennsylvania, USA, affording the successful applicant exposure to American horticultural techniques, regional plant species, new contacts, etc.
There are four fields of study from which to choose: ornamental horticulture, education, library science, and marketing & public relations, and advice will be given to the successful candidate over the best option to match his/her particular needs.
As an intern, you would work 40 hours per week and be engaged in weekly learning opportunities, including trips to regional gardens, museums, nurseries, and horticultural industries.

More information on Longwood Gardens

More information on the International Internship and Training Programmes also available at Longwood Gardens

How much is the award?

If the Masters Programme option is chosen, the award will cover the following:

  • Up to £350 to cover university application costs. The successful applicant may apply to a total of 5 universities within the approved GCA Zones, provided this monetary cap is not exceeded.
  • Cost of sitting the GRE exam and university registration fees.
  • Cost of visa application fee.
  • Cost of return travel to the USA (economy class).
  • Up to USD $30,000 to cover the cost of tuition, university or equivalent housing, meal plan, and university health plan. This includes up to USD $750 (per semester) to cover cost of books and study materials and up to USD $300 (per month) for personal incidentals and travel expenses to selected GCA meetings.

If the Internship at Longwood Gardens option is chosen the award will cover the following:

  • Cost of visa application.
  • Cost of return travel to the USA (economy class).
  • Housing (at Longwood Gardens with computer access).
  • Salary of USD $8.50/hour or current rate.
  • A Social Security card.
  • Health insurance (including repatriation insurance).
  • Shared use of a vehicle.
  • Safety equipment (if required).
  • Funds for extra travel, lodging, fees and registration for up to two conferences/garden visits related to the intern’s field of study (these may not be more than two weeks in duration).

The successful applicant would be responsible for acquiring a passport, student visa or other documentation with accompanying medical requirements, photographs, etc. Any additional funds for personal expenses exceeding the amount of the award would have to be supplied by the applicant.

Follow GCA Interchange Fellow 2011 Alex Summers during his internship at Longwood Gardens.

Are there any obligations which the successful applicant would have to fulfil?

Yes, there are. Regardless of which option you go for, if successful you would be expected to attend a number of meetings of the GCA, and will be asked to give occasional talks on your work or other topics of interest. GCA members always give the Fellow a warm welcome, offering hospitality on arrival and at weekends and on US national holidays such as Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter.
You would also be expected to submit a mid-year and an end-of-year report to the RHS and the GCA, for possible publication in the Society’s journal The Garden or The GCA Bulletin. Extracts may be used on our website as well as promoting the RHS/GCA Interchange Fellowship through a series of articles/blogs/talks, etc. as and when required.

Interchange Fellows 2012-2013

The recipients of this year’s RHS/GCA Interchange Fellowship are Ronan Watson and Danielle Ballweg.

Ronan Watson (GCA Interchange Fellow)
Ronan, a Masters graduate in both Landscape Architecture and Geography from Edinburgh and Dundee Universities respectively, will undertake the first year of a masters course in Landscape Architecture at North Carolina State University where he hopes to get involved in the university’s Natural Learning Initiative and its work on creating educational environments for children. His future career plan: to create outdoor educational environments for children, focusing particularly, on how to improve their connection to the natural world from an early age.

Ronan Watson's interim report (279kB pdf)

Danielle Ballweg (RHS Interchange Fellow)
Having successfully completed a BSc in horticulture at University Wisconsin-Platteville with an emphasis in plant breeding and genetics as well as professional landscape management, Danielle will be undertaking horticultural work placements at RHS Gardens, the Eden Project, Winfield House, and Tresco Abbey Gardens during her Fellowship year. Danielle hopes in the future to own her own fruit and vegetable production business providing fresh produce to local markets.

Reports produced by past Fellows

How do I apply?

Click here for application form

Alternatively, please write to:

RHS Interchange Fellowship Coordinator
RHS Garden Wisley
Surrey GU23 6QB
Tel: 01483-479719

Please note that applications, accompanied by references, must be returned to the RHS by 31 October each year. Interviews will be conducted by the RHS Interchange Fellowship Panel and held in mid November at our RHS Headquarters at 80 Vincent Square, London SW1P 2PE.

Source: RHS - The RHS/GCA Interchange Fellowship