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Garden Apprentice Program

Garden Apprentice Program

Information Session: Saturday, November 5, 2022 | 12–2 p.m.

Join us at the Garden to hear all about this urban agriculture and environmental education program for students in grades 8–11.

Register for Information Session

The Garden Apprentice Program (GAP) at Brooklyn Botanic Garden is a great way for teens to learn about urban agriculture and the environment while working in one of the most exciting public gardens in the world! Apprentices can work their way up the four-tier program.

If you enjoy getting your hands dirty and want to work with other teens, GAP may be for you.

Apprentices make a nine-month commitment to GAP, from March to November, which includes spring training, summer programming, and a weekly commitment throughout the spring and fall. See the tier descriptions for more information.

All GAP participants must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by the start of programs in March 2023.

Applications for the 2023 program are due Friday, December 9, 2022. For more information, read below, and come to our Info Session on Saturday, November 5, 2022, at 12 p.m.

Apply

Enjoy this video about GAP

Three teenagers sit around a table covered with fresh produce in the Children's Garden.
Program Tiers

Garden Apprentices in all tiers

  • Learn about botany and environmentalism through hands-on sessions.
  • Grow and harvest fruits, vegetables, and herbs in the Children’s Garden.
  • Facilitate lessons to teach children about plants and nature.
  • Explore Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s amazing plant collections.
  • Develop job skills, including teamwork, communication, and leadership.
  • Earn a monetary award at the end of the apprenticeship.
  • Please note that due to the ongoing pandemic, program schedules and policies may be altered for safety.

Tier 1

Open to students in 8th or 9th grade

  • Tier 1 apprentices spend most of their time outdoors gardening, cooking with fresh ingredients, crafting, and exploring nature with children aged 4–12 alongside an adult instructor and a Tier 4 apprentice. They build skills in urban farming while learning to be an environmental educator.
  • Stipend: $600

Tier 2

Open to students in 10th grade or to those who have successfully completed Tier 1

  • Tier 2 apprentices work both behind the scenes and with the public at Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Apprentices are placed in different areas of the Garden in spring, summer, and fall. Placements include learning to care for plants in the Education Greenhouse and teaching the public about science in the Discovery Garden.
  • Tier 2 apprentices participate in community action projects, field trips, and discussions around both local and global environmental issues.
  • Stipend: $700

Tier 3

Open to students in 11th grade or to those who have successfully completed Tier 2

  • Tier 3 apprentices work in teams to research, design, and create their own GAP carts, education stations that are wheeled out into the Garden on weekends. Tier 3 apprentices practice public-speaking and teaching skills as they engage with Garden visitors from all over the world.
  • Tier 3 apprentices delve into current local and global environmental issues through community action projects, field trips, and discussions. Tier 3 apprentices serve as role models and leaders for other apprentices.
  • Tier 3 apprentices who are rising seniors participate in college preparation sessions to start the college application process.
  • Stipend: $800

Tier 4

Open to students who have successfully completed Tier 3

  • Tier 4 apprentices spend most of their time outdoors gardening, cooking with fresh ingredients, crafting, and exploring nature with children aged 4–12 alongside an adult instructor and a Tier 1 apprentice. They build skills in urban farming while learning how to be an environmental educator.
  • Tier 4 apprentices serve as role models and leaders for other apprentices.
  • Tier 4 apprentices who are rising seniors participate in college preparation sessions to start the college application process.
  • Tier 4 apprentices are onboarded as BBG staff and earn $15 per hour.
Four teenagers posing in the Children's Garden with a scarecrow.
Frequently Asked Questions

1. Will I be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to participate in GAP for 2023?
Yes, GAP is requiring all apprentices to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 for participation in the 2023 program year. If you have questions or concerns, please email us at [email protected] to discuss.

2. Do I have to reapply to the program every year?
Yes. Even if you were in the program previously, you must submit an application (with reference letters) and participate in a group interview every year. You are not guaranteed a position in the next tier of the program just because you participated before.

3. I am in the 12th grade now—can I apply to be an apprentice?
Unfortunately, students currently in the 12th grade are not eligible to apply for GAP. The only 12th graders in the program are returning Tier 4 apprentices. (Tier 4 is not open to new applicants.)

4. If I participated in the Children’s Garden programs (Seeds, City Farmers, Junior Botanists, etc.), do I automatically get into GAP?
No, we do not automatically accept anyone into the program—all students must submit a full application and be interviewed. We have many apprentices who have participated in other BBG programs, and we encourage all former program participants to apply.

5. How does GAP decide who is accepted into the program?
The staff panel reviews the applications and considers the applicants’ short-answer responses and their reference forms, as well as how the applicants represent themselves at the group interview. We are looking for commitment and genuine interest in learning at BBG, among other qualities. GAP aims to create a community that reflects the cultural, socioeconomic, and racial diversity of New York City. Past performance in the Garden Apprentice Program is also taken into consideration for returning applicants.

6. Do I have to pay to participate in the Garden Apprentice Program?
All new apprentices are asked to pay a one-time $50 fee to help offset the cost of uniforms and other materials provided to each apprentice. As the apprentice moves up the tiers in the program, he/she is not required to pay the fee again. Need-based scholarships are available.

7. Do I need to have gardening experience to be accepted as an apprentice?
No. We have some apprentices with years of experience in growing food and working with plants and many more apprentices who have never set foot in a vegetable garden. The apprenticeship is designed so that people from all knowledge levels have opportunities to learn and explore.

8. What is the time commitment for an apprentice?
Apprentices typically work an average of 5–7 hours per week during the spring and fall and 20–30 hours per week during summer programming. Over the course of the year, our apprentices spend approximately 210–270 hours at the Garden. All apprentices have mandatory training on three full Saturdays in March. Meetings, trainings, and special events will be added periodically to the calendar.

Please see the 2023 GAP Calendar and attendance policy for the program schedule.

While many apprentices participate in sports, clubs, college prep, and other extracurricular activities, we do ask that serious applicants prioritize GAP, after academics. We help apprentices develop the time-management skills needed to juggle multiple responsibilities and are generally flexible regarding occasional conflicts, provided the apprentice communicates with supervisors in advance.

9. What are the dates for the 2023 program?
GAP runs from March through November 2023. Please see the 2023 GAP Calendar for the full program schedule.

10. Can I participate in only parts of GAP?
No. We ask apprentices to make a full commitment to the program, March–November. If you are looking for a summer internship only, this is not the place for you!

11. What if I want to go on vacation during the summer?
Please schedule family vacations and other activities before or after the dates listed on the application.

12. Can I apply for the Summer Youth Employment Program in the summer and still participate in GAP?
Due to scheduling constraints and other concerns, we are not able to have apprentices apply for SYEP funding for the summer.

13. Do I have to start at Tier 1, or can I join the program at another tier level?
New applicants can apply to the Garden Apprentice Program at any tier except Tier 4. To apply to be a Tier 4 apprentice, you must have successfully completed Tier 3.

14. Can I skip a tier?
We generally encourage apprentices to participate in all tiers once they have joined GAP as there are opportunities and skills unique to each tier that we think are valuable as you move up through the program. However, if you leave GAP for a year and wish to return, you are welcome to apply again.

15. Could participation in GAP count toward community service credit?
Absolutely! The hours you contribute to BBG as an apprentice are considered volunteer hours. These hours can be used toward community service requirements from your school. Even though apprentices receive a stipend for their work (see #16, below), the hours contributed are still considered volunteer hours.

16. Do I get paid? When?
Apprentices who successfully complete Tiers 1–3 are given a nontaxable award in November, as listed below. Apprentices in Tiers 1–3 who complete the program year with perfect attendance, as defined by the GAP handbook, will receive an additional monetary bonus of $50. Tier 4 apprentices are considered part-time BBG staff and receive an hourly wage of $15 per hour based on the applicable minimum wage set by the NYC Department of Labor.
Tier 1: $600
Tier 2: $700
Tier 3: $800
Tier 4: $15 per hour

17. Are MetroCards provided for transportation to and from the Garden?
Metrocards will be provided to Tier 1–3 apprentices if needed for transportation to and from GAP programs.

18. Will the program consider applicants with special needs?
Applicants with special needs are given equal consideration. We review each individual’s application on a case-by-case basis and, for applicants who may need significant support in order to participate fully in the program, may follow up with the applicant and his or her family to ensure a good fit. Please contact us if you have questions or would like to discuss a particular student’s application.

19. Do I have to send in all my application materials together, or can they be submitted separately?
No, you do not have to submit all your application materials at the same time. You can complete your application online, mail it in, or drop it off, and then ask your references to complete their forms online or mail them directly to the GAP coordinators:

Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Attn: GAP
1000 Washington Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11225

Make sure your references know that all application materials are due by midnight, December 9, 2022! That means that forms submitted by mail must be received by GAP by December 9, not postmarked by December 9. We recommend speaking with your references well in advance of the deadline. We do not accept faxes.

21. How many apprentices are accepted into the program?
GAP accepts 12 to 14 apprentices per tier. In the past, we have received about three times that number of applications. Therefore, acceptance into the program is competitive but not impossible! Good luck!

More questions? Contact the GAP coordinators at 718-623-7252, 718-623-7328, or [email protected].

A group of teenagers in blue t-shirts in front of a table full of vegetables.
GAP Program 2023 Calendar

Most dates listed below are mandatory; starred* dates are optional shifts. Additional optional shifts and special events may be added to the calendar later. Apprentices may request off for religious holidays they observe. Please contact the GAP coordinators ASAP if you have scheduling conflicts or concerns: [email protected].

Download GAP Program Calendar as a PDF ›

GAP Spring Programs 2023 (March–May)

Tier Program Date and time
ALL GAP GAP Orientation Saturday, February 11, 11 a.m.–1 p.m.
TIER 4 HR Orientation TBA
ALL GAP Spring Training Saturdays 9 a.m.–3:30 p.m., March 4, 18, 25
Holidays Spring Break—NO GAP PROGRAMS: April 11–17
TIER 1
Children’s Garden
Choose Fridays or Saturdays.
Fridays 3–6 p.m., April 7, 21, 28; May 5, 12, 19
OR
Saturdays 9 a.m.–1 p.m., April 8, 22, 29; May 6, 13, 20
TIER 2** Science Research or
Discovery Garden Placement
Choose Tuesdays or Saturdays.
(Tuesdays will be offered only if
we meet minimum enrollment.)
Science Research: Tuesdays 4–6 p.m., April 18, 25; May, 2, 9, 16, 23
OR
Science Research: Saturdays 10:30 a.m.–1 p.m., April 8, 22, 29; May 6, 13, 20
OR
Discovery Garden: Saturdays 10 a.m.–1 p.m., April 8, 22, 29; May 6, 13, 20
TIER 3
Carts Placement
Choose Fridays or Saturdays.
(Fridays will be offered only if we
meet minimum enrollment.)
Fridays 4–6 p.m., April 7, 21, 28; May 5, 12, 19
OR
Saturdays 10:30 a.m.–1 p.m., April 8, 22, 29; May 6, 13, 20
TIER 4 Children’s Garden
Choose Fridays or Saturdays.
Fridays 3–6 p.m., April 7, 21, 28; May 5, 12, 19
OR
Saturdays 9 a.m.–1 p.m., April 8, 22, 29; May 6, 13, 20
ALL GAP Horticulture
Choose Wednesdays or
Saturdays.
Wednesdays 4–6 p.m., April 19, 26; May 3, 10, 17, 24
OR
Saturdays 2–4 p.m., April 8, 22, 29; May 6, 13, 20
ALL GAP Children’s
Garden Placements*
Friday, June 2, 3–6 p.m.; Saturday, June 3, 9 a.m.–1 p.m.
Preference will be given to current Tier 1s and 4s,
open to Tier 2s and 3s who have worked in the CG.

* Optional Shift
** Select Tier 1 can participate in lieu of CG programs.

GAP Summer Programs 2023 (June–August)

Tier Program Date and time
TIER 1 Summer Training TBA
TIER 4 Summer Training TBA
TIER 4 Leadership Camping Retreat* June 28, 7 a.m. Return to BBG June 30, 5 p.m.
Attendance strongly encouraged.
TIER 1 Placements Tuesdays 9:30 a.m.–1 p.m., Wednesdays 8 a.m.–1 p.m.,
Thursdays 8 a.m.–3 p.m., Fridays 8 a.m.–3:30 p.m.,
July 11–August 18
TIER 2 Placements Tuesdays 9:30 a.m.–1 p.m., Wednesdays 10:30 a.m.–3:30 p.m.,
Thursdays 10:30 a.m.–3:30 p.m., Fridays 10 a.m.–3:30 p.m.,
July 11–August 18
TIER 3
Placements Tuesdays 9:30 a.m.–1 p.m., Wednesdays 10 a.m.–3:30 p.m.,
Thursdays 10 a.m.–3:30 p.m., Fridays 10 a.m.–3:30 p.m.,
July 11–August 18
TIER 4 Placements Tuesdays 9:30 a.m.–1 p.m., Wednesdays 8 a.m.–1 p.m.,
Thursdays 8 a.m.–1 p.m., Fridays 8 a.m.–3:30 p.m.,
July 11–August 18
ALL GAP Summer Special Events GAP Anti-Oppression and Identity Workshop:
TBA
GAP College Prep Private Sessions for Rising Seniors:
TBA
Intersession Horticulture Shifts
TBA
*Iron Chef Prep:
Friday, August 4, 2–3:30 p.m.
*Iron Chef:
Tuesday, August 8, 9 a.m.–1 p.m.
End of Summer Potluck Celebration:
Friday, August 18, 3:30–5 p.m. Families invited!

* Optional Shift

GAP Fall Programs 2023 (September—November)

Tier Program Date and time
Holidays Columbus Day/Indigenous Peoples’ Day—NO GAP PROGRAMS:
October 6, 7
TIER 1 Children’s Garden Placements
Choose Fridays or Saturdays.
Fridays 3–6 p.m., September 8, 15, 22, 29; October 13, 20, 27
OR
Saturdays 9 a.m.–1 p.m., September 9, 16, 23, 30; October 14, 21, 28
TIER 2 Science Research or Discovery
Garden Placement
Choose Tuesdays or Saturdays.
(Tuesdays will be offered only if
we meet minimum enrollment.)
Science Research: Tuesdays 4–6 p.m., September 12, 19, 26;
October 3, 10, 17, 24
OR
Science Research: Saturdays 10:30 a.m.–1 p.m., September 9, 16, 23, 30;
October 14, 21, 28
OR
Discovery Garden: Saturdays 10 a.m.–1 p.m., September 9, 16, 23, 30;
October 14, 21, 28
TIER 3 Carts Placements
Choose Fridays or Saturdays.
(Fridays will be offered only if we
meet minimum enrollment.)
Fridays 4–6 p.m., September 8, 15, 22, 29; October 13, 20, 27
OR
Saturdays 10 a.m.–1 p.m., September 9, 16, 23, 30; October 14, 21, 28
TIER 4 Children’s Garden Placements
Choose Fridays or Saturdays.
Fridays 3–6 p.m., September 8, 15, 22, 29; October 13, 20, 27
OR
Saturdays 9 a.m.–1 p.m., September 9, 16, 23, 30; October 14, 21, 28
ALL GAP Horticulture
Choose Wednesdays or
Saturdays.
Wednesdays 4–6 p.m., September 13, 20, 27; October 4, 11, 18, 25
OR
Saturdays 2–4 p.m., September 9, 16, 23, 30; October 14, 21, 28

SENIORS Special Shifts College Prep “Study Hall” for Seniors*:
Thursdays 4–6:30 p.m., September 14, 21, 28; October 5, 12, 19, 26;
November 2, 9, 16; December 7, 14, 21 and other days by appointment.
Private sessions for seniors: TBA
ALL GAP End of Season Special Events Children’s Garden Closing Ceremony*:
Saturday, November 4
GAP Info Session* (for those interested in reapplying):
Saturday, November 4, 2–4 p.m.
GAP Closing Meeting:
Saturday, November 11, 9:30 a.m.–3:30 p.m.
GAP Graduation Potluck:
Saturday, November 18, 12–3 p.m. Families invited!

* Optional Shift

Application Forms

Applications are due Friday, December 9, 2022.

GAP Applications

Apply Online

If you would like a printable application to fill out and mail in, please email us at [email protected] and provide your name and the tier you are applying for.


References

Submit a Reference Form Online

If you would like a printable reference form to fill out and mail in, please email us at [email protected] with your name and the name of the student for whom you are providing a reference.

Support

Lead Sponsor

ConEd logo

Additional Support

William C. Bullitt Foundation
Bulova Stetson Fund
Constans Culver Foundation
Zeldin Family Foundation

Image, top of page: GAP staff