The Garden Club of Allegheny County (GCAC) is pleased to support the Botany in Action Susan Clancy Fellowship, instituted in 2020. This fellowship honors Susan as a Past President of GCAC and one of the founders of Botany in Action (BIA). The honorary fellowship is one of seven Botany in Action fellowships awarded to doctoral-level students who specialize in ethnobotany research and education.
Susan’s interest in gardening and conservation is longstanding. As the head of Phipps Friends, she played an active role in transforming Phipps’ Outdoor Garden to its current form and in ushering along the privatization of Phipps in 1993. She also became a member of the Phipps Board of Trustees when it was first established. Beyond Phipps, Susan served as the president of the Trowel and Error Garden Club in Sewickley and on the board of the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy. For the latter organization, she was a member of the Parks and Playgrounds Committee.
In 1990, Susan and Paula Sculley who co-founded BIA, attended “Step One,” a GCAC forum that focused on the loss of biodiversity in our world and challenged attendees to take action. In response, Susan and Paula created Botany in Action as “Step Two.” BIA funded the fieldwork of PhD candidates doing worldwide research in ethnobotany, the study of the relationship between people and plants, with the goal of creating a global awareness of biodiversity issues while also promoting habitat preservation and environmental education. BIA fellows were mentored by veteran botanists and ethnobotanists and were encouraged to share their research findings in not only the communities where they conducted their fieldwork, but also with the Pittsburgh community during an annual symposium that has now come to be called Science Engagement Week.
GCAC is pleased that Phipps began shepherding the BIA program in 2000 and that the fieldwork of seven BIA fellows, including that of the Susan Clancy Fellow, is now funded annually. The Susan Clancy Fellowship serves as a wonderful way to honor Susan’s contribution to promoting science education and global conservation and preservation.