California Native Plant Society

Research Grants


Updated CNPS grant proposal form now available:
View form | more info

CNPS Chapter Grants
The following CNPS chapters also offer grants to students at the university level: Alta Peak, Bristlecone, East Bay, Milo Baker, Orange County, San Gabriel Mountains, San Luis Obispo, Santa Clara Valley, and Shasta. Please check their websites or newsletters for more information.

CNPS Educational Grants Program

The CNPS Educational Grants Program was created in 1983 to award funds to students and researchers studying California’s native flora. The seven funds were created and added to over the years through the generosity of several major donors, some of whom are anonymous, in honor of some of our Society’s most dedicated members and leaders. Five of the awards are endowed funds. The Educational Grants Committee determines which type of grant is appropriate for each proposal funded. All grant proposals must be postmarked by October 31st each year.

The Doc Burr Grants: One of the first Educational Grant funds, established in 1983, was the Doc Burr Graduate Research Fund to honor Horace K. "Doc" Burr, a founder and Fellow of the Society and director at large for many years. Doc Burr grants are awarded to graduate students conducting research that promotes conservation of California’s flora and vegetation.

The Karen Callahan Scholarship Award: established in 2014, this award is offered to students engaged in study and/or research relating to native plant conservation, restoration, systematics, or ecology. Such study or research must be directed to plants that grow in Placer or Nevada County habitats. Preference will be given to topics concerning rare plants or communities. We honor Karen Callahan for her extraordinary efforts over the years as a volunteer in the Redbud Chapter of CNPS - especially, her monitoring, protecting, and educating others about rare plants and rare plant communities. Undergraduates must use this form (Word, 108kb) and graduate students must use the online form provided for all other grants.

The Hardman Native Plant Research Award: Established in 1994, in honor of Gertrude R. Hardman, who was for years involved with the Botany Club of the Academy of Science in San Francisco, this grant was initiated by Doris Hoover. We offer the Hardman Native Plant Research Award for promising academic and applied botanical research involving California's native plants, especially rare plants. For this grant, we also welcome research leading to elimination of invasive exotic plants from the state's flora.

Natalie Hopkins Award: Established in 2007, this grant honors Natalie Hopkins, lifelong supporter and mentor of women in plant sciences and 2nd president of the Santa Clara Chapter of CNPS. Natalie Hopkins Awards are given to women students and researchers pursuing native plant studies.

The Helen Sharsmith Grants: Established in 1983 by Carl Sharsmith, this award pays memorial tribute to his wife, Helen, the author of The Flora of the Mount Hamilton Range. We award Helen Sharsmith grants to students or non-students involved in research on California's native flora.

The G. Ledyard Stebbins Award: CNPS established the Stebbins Award in 1986 to honor Dr. Stebbins for his many years of dedication to the Society and to students of genetics and evolutionary botany. Each year one Stebbins Award may be given to a graduate student for an outstanding proposal for research in evolutionary botany.

Joan Stewart Educational Grant Award: Joan Stewart has served California Native Plant Society in many capacities for over forty years. A lifelong joy for Joan has been to mentor and to encourage students in their research. As part of her desire to support student research, Joan chaired the Educational Grants Committee from 2005 to 2014. The Joan Stewart Educational Grant Award, established in 2014, is an educational grant to be awarded to the student whose California Native Plant Society (CNPS) grant proposal is deemed by the CNPS Educational Grants Committee to be an excellent research project contributing critical information necessary for the conservation of California native plant species and their habitats.


Other Grant Programs


CNPS Educational Grants Application Guidelines

All applicants must fill out and submit the online proposal form and send at least one letter of recommendation. The Submit button at the bottom of the form sends it directly to CNPS. Following submittal you may continue to edit your proposal through October 31st. The letter of recommendation may be from your project advisor, a teacher, or a professor familiar with your project. Letters sealed by authors and mailed should be sent to the address below and received by October 31st. Letter authors may email the letter of recommendation to the Education Grants Program at with Letter of recommendation for [name of student] in subject line. Applicants may not email the letters.

Educational Grants Committee
California Native Plant Society
2707 K Street, Suite 1
Sacramento, California 95816-5113

All applications and letters of recommendation must be received by October 31st. Grant applications are reviewed by a committee using a point system to determine that all requested information is included in the Grant application and that the project is consistent with the mission and vision of CNPS. Funding for CNPS Educational Grants is limited and priority is assigned to those grant applications that are complete and clearly demonstrate consistency with CNPS’ mission and vision.

Beware that the link to go back and edit your proposal is only available when you first submit your proposal. A white box appears to say your "response" has been recorded and if you hover over the Edit your response link it prompts you to save the link to go back and edit. This is the only time and way to get back in to the site to you proposal. Please SAVE THE LINK!


Field research


Proposals are reviewed by members of the committee during October and November using these criteria: completeness, technical quality, consistency with CNPS goals, intended use of funds, and likelihood of completion. We will notify applicants of the committee’s recommendations by late November and the projects receiving funding will be announced at the December Chapter Council meeting.


Grant Amounts

Funds available to the committee, number of proposals, and merit of the proposals determine amounts awarded. The amounts awarded in recent years have been generally between $300-$1,000.


For questions or problems, contact the Education Grants Program at . CNPS appreciates your interest in the Educational Grants Program and encourages your participation and support.



2016 CNPS Educational Grant Award Recipients

Congratulations to all our 2016 Educational Grants recipients. Special awards go to recipients with named endowment funding.

Recipients Research Focus Supporting Fund
Danielle Black Identifying the genetic basis of serpentine tolerance in the California endemic species: Aquilegia eximia. Helen Sharsmith Grant
Anita Cisternas Fuentes Effects of increased inbreeding in Clarkia breweri and concinna. Are the effects on fitness related to their main pollinator? Natalie Hopkins Award
Julia Harencar Secondary contact in cryptic goldfields (Lasthenia): A case of reticulate evolution? Helen Sharsmith Grant
Jaspreet Kaur Spatial and temporal dynamics of Piperia cooperi mycorrhizal associations in response to microhabitat and soil microbiome. The Hardman Native Plant Research Award
Amberlee Mahaffey Factors affecting the lower elevational range of Juniperus californica in the northwest Sonoran Desert. Doc Burr Grant
Natalie Rossington Predicting the impacts of climate change on the evolution of common and rare Streptanthus species using geographic variation in adaptive traits. Natalie Hopkins Award
Julea Shaw Utilizing prescribed burns with strip seeding to restore California native grassland communities. Natalie Hopkins Award


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