Albert James (Bert) Shoosmith Scholarship Fund History
The Virginia Nursery and Landscape Association has established the Albert James (Bert) Shoosmith Scholarship Fund to help students working toward their first undergraduate degree in horticulture or related agricultural program.
Three $1,500 scholarships will be awarded to students who are enrolled full-time at a 4-year college or university for the next academic year.
Two $750 scholarships will be awarded to students who are enrolled full-time at a 2-year college for the next academic year.
Albert James (Bert) Shoosmith's father, Fred Shoosmith, was one of the founding fathers of the VNLA. He began his career as a nurseryman and landscape architect at the age of five when he began sowing free vegetable seeds and then selling the plants to neighbors. By age eight he was potting up ivy and selling them to his father’s customers. He became part owner with his father of Southside Nurseries and later established Hillside Gardens at his home in Chester, Virginia. At 16, he attended his first National Nursery Convention and decided at that time the nursery business would be his career. He attended VPI in Architectural Engineering, but found the course did not relate enough to living things and he never completed the program. In the 1930s, he enrolled in a special project for Landscape Engineering and Construction at Harvard University and found the program an exciting and stimulating learning experience. Because of the Depression he could not return but continued his education with a self-study course that he said was “a greater education than from any school.”
In 1930, Bert and his father Fred met with William Roper, J.T. French, Deacon Jones, Owen Wood and Tscharner Watkins at the Southside Nursery to discuss the formation of a state Nurseryman’s Association. The organization was chartered in 1932. Early conventions were held at the John Marshall Hotel. In addition to VNLA, Bert saw a need for an organization for Landscape Designers and he help found the Virginia Society of Landscape Designers (VSLD) in 1960. He also founded the Middle Atlantic Chapter of the American Rhododendron Society. Bert said that one of his greatest pleasures was the fine and interesting friends and customers who contributed to his life. After his retirement, his greatest pleasure was a walk in his garden at home in the cool of the evening. He found the plants in growth and in bloom were always inspiring, relaxing and very enjoyable. He was a grower of unusual cultivars of rhododendron and other evergreens, among them the Shoosmith Juniper, an evergreen cultivated by his father.
It was his wish that part of his estate be used to fund horticultural scholarships each year. Bert Shoosmith died in 2000 at the age of 93 and left the VNLA $25,000 in his will, plus any residual after the estate was settled. As of December 2014, the scholarship endowment was $212,000. The first scholarships were awarded in March 2004.
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