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Garden club helping students grow
Ripon group awards two $1,000 scholarships
Marsha McNeill of the Ripon Garden Club (left) presents a scholarship award to Cassidy DeRousse at the clubs luncheon on June 5 at Mavis Stouffer Park. DeRousse recently graduated from Ripon Christian and will attend Fresno State in the fall. - photo by Photo Contributed

The only gift greater than flowers?

For two graduating seniors who have demonstrated a love for horticulture – $1,000 scholarships.

The Ripon Garden Club presented Michaela Ratto and Cassidy DeRousse with its annual scholarships during a luncheon at Mavis Stouffer Park on June 5.

Both recipients distinguished themselves with a passion for agriculture and horticulture. Each also received glowing endorsements from their teachers.

“They met the criteria in that they’re focusing in on agriculture,” said Garden Club member and Scholarship Committee chair Marsha McNeill. “With the Garden Club that is our prerequisite – they have to be working with agriculture.”

Ratto graduated from Ripon High and has already begun her freshman year at Modesto Junior College. She is enrolled in summer school and wasn’t able to attend the luncheon.

She plans to major in agricultural business. Ratto was an Ripon Almond Blossom Queen contestant and a longtime member of Ripon 4-H.

DeRousse, who accepted her award with family in the crowd, will attend Fresno State, where she’ll tailor her studies toward a career in agriculture. DeRousse recently graduated from Ripon Christian High.

She’s also been awarded the Nisei Farmers League  scholarship by the San Joaquin Farm Bureau’s Foundation for Agricultural Education.

Approximately 60 people attended the annual luncheon, which acts a precursor to the club’s major fundraiser – the September Stroll.

“The Ripon Garden Club is flourishing,” said Judy Butterman, public relations chair.

The September Stroll is a community-wide event. Participating homes open up their gardens to visitors who have purchased a ticket. The event funds most of the club’s activities, including the two scholarships.

“Why do we do this? To invest in a young person’s life, so that they’ll hopefully benefit the community wherever they reside,” McNeill said.

It’s the Ripon Garden Club Way, McNeill said.

“The Ripon Garden Club makes sure the downtown pots, Bethany Home and everything are planted with all kinds of flowers. The city takes care of the watering and Fredriks Nursery provides the plants,” she added. “You might say we’re a town that works together.”