BBG's horticulture internship supports our mission to use the Garden as a working garden, living laboratory, and educational resource. Each year, interns have an eight-month, hands-on experience working directly with BBG's internationally respected horticulture staff.
Internships are open to any adult over 18 who has a strong interest in horticulture. The applicant must be able to do physical labor outdoors and posses a valid driver's license. This program is designed for people interested in pursuing a career in horticulture. Successful applicants must be able to work the full eight months and are responsible for their own housing.
Goals for Horticulture Interns
- Acquire a basic foundation in gardening techniques and horticultural knowledge
- Become familiar with horticultural tools, equipment, and vehicles
- Learn about career opportunities in horticulture and public gardens
- Learn about the resources and operations of a botanic garden and the mission of BBG
- Gain an appreciation for the global diversity of plants and people
- Experience teamwork, cooperation, and responsibility
Intern Positions Available
General Horticulture (6 positions)
- Assisting specialty gardeners with daily maintenance of their "many gardens
within the Garden." Tasks can include watering, weeding, planting, pruning,
deadheading, fertilizing, mulching, raking gravel paths, using the blower,
raking leaves, cultivating, and cleaning out planting beds. This assignment is
rotated every few weeks with the grounds crew.
In addition to the Alice Recknagel Ireys Fragrance Garden, Cranford Rose Garden, Herb Garden, Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden, Lily Pool Terrace, Native Flora Garden, Osborne Garden, Rock Garden, Shakespeare Garden, other maintenance areas include the Plant Family Collection, Louisa Clark Spencer Lilac Collection, and Magnolia Plaza.
- Assisting grounds crew with maintenance of trees, 20 acres of turf, the border mounds that surround the Garden's perimeter, and other parts of BBG.
Native Flora Garden (1 position)
- This internship position focuses on the native flora of the Northeast. In addition to assisting the curator with daily maintenance (weeding, planting, pruning, working with volunteers, etc.), the intern will concentrate on plant ID, sustainable gardening practices, and conservation research.
Rose Garden (1 position)
- This internship position focuses on the Cranford Rose Garden, where more than 1,000 kinds of roses are cultivated. The intern assists the curator with daily maintenance and tasks including pruning, fertilizing, mulching, planting, watering, deadheading, and working with volunteers.
Propagation (1 position)
- Assisting the plant propagator with starting and growing plants from seed, cuttings, and plugs for BBG collections and displays as well as for the Signature Plant program. The intern is also responsible for collecting seeds and assisting the staff of the Steinhardt Conservatory with their collections and glasshouses. Tasks can also include deadheading, pruning, watering, fertilizing, cleaning paths, weeding, and researching.
Horticulture interns are required to attend classes towards a BBG Certificate in Horticulture. The eight certificate courses are offered in the evenings by the Adult Education department and are scheduled so that interns can complete the program before the end of the internship. They are free of charge to interns.
BBG horticulture interns are usually offered three field trips during the eight months of their internship. This is a great opportunity for them to visit gardens and parks and experience different aspects of public horticulture. These field trips take place during the workday and are generally outside the NYC area. Past field trips have included Old Westbury Gardens and Planting Fields Arboretum; Longwood Gardens and Chanticleer; and Rodale Farm Institute.
Interns are encouraged to undertake a six-month-long project during their internship, for which they are allowed two hours of work time each week. Many resources are available to the interns including the Gardener's Resource Center, Science Library, Herbarium, and of course BBG's 52 acres of gardens and plant collections. The Horticulture staff and other BBG staff are also good resources.
Past projects have included slide documentation of the perennial beds, PowerPoint presentation of animals in the Garden, a draft of a Rose Garden brochure, a demonstration of making natural dyes from plants, and research on heirloom seeds.
Group projects are scattered throughout the internship period, depending on the need and season. One of the first group projects of the year is cleaning out the brook that runs through the center of the Garden. Every fall, the Annual Border on Lily Pool Terrace is planted with 10,000 tulips with the help of the interns. Other group projects have included mulching lilac beds, cleaning out the border mounds, and summer plantings for the Annual Border.