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Grow a Career! The Cornell Plantations Internship Program

Raised toward our $10,000 Goal
78 Donors
Project has ended
Project ended on September 30, at 11:59 PM EDT
Project Owners

Grow a Career! The Cornell Plantations Internship Program

11 students x 12 weeks x 3,400 acres of gardens and natural areas = One incredible summer of working, learning, and earning at Cornell Plantations!

We are the student interns who got to dig into a fantastic hands-on experience this summer at Cornell Plantations. We learned so much and had such a great time that we want to make sure these internships are available for more students in the future. Please join us in helping to raise $10,000 to provide funding for 2 internships next summer!

The Plantations internship experience has completely reshaped the way I think about gardening and how I want to spend my life. Without a doubt, it has been the best work experience of my life.—Aiden Cortell ’15, Wildflower Garden Intern, plant sciences major


The Plantations Internship Program is open only to Cornell University undergraduate and graduate students. While most interns are majoring in horticulture, plant sciences, natural resources, or landscape architecture, Plantations also encourages applications from anyone who wants to learn more about plants, conservation, or environmental sustainability.

Learning and Experience-Focused

Each intern sets individual learning goals for their summer experience—and our  mentors on the Plantations staff are committed to making sure that we achieve them. We are considered to be members of the Plantations staff and work closely with their professional gardeners, conservators, and educators to meet our goals while advancing Plantations’ mission. 

One of the most important things the interns provide for Plantations is a clear demonstration of our relevance to the entire university. I see the interns and the staff experiencing this relevance in our daily tasks and in simple person-to-person interaction with each other. The students get the benefit of our years of experience and we get the benefit of their curiosity, eagerness, and the currency of their education.Phil Syphrit, Plantations Internship Program Coordinator

Wide-Ranging Experience

Plantations offers internships in education, horticulture, and natural areas, plus a position in marketing and communications. To provide all of us with a broad overview of what it takes to run a public garden and manage a system of natural areas, Mondays are reserved for field trips and special learning opportunities as a group. Some of our favorite Learning Mondays were “Bog Day” with Plantations’ field botanist; stonework and heavy equipment operations with the landscape construction team; GIS mapping with the plant records specialist; integrated pest management and greenhouse production work; and pruning and tree maintenance with the master arborist. We also had workshops on botanical illustration and digital photography.

I would like to complete my education with a holistic knowledge of plants and the systems in which they live, from insect and disease pests to soil preservation and improvement. Working at the Plantations is an excellent place to get more real world experience. Whether I pursue a career in ornamental horticulture or agriculture, I intend to do work that makes use of these applied skills.Emily Rodekohr '15, Climate Change Garden Intern, plant sciences major

My summer was mostly spent actively managing Cornell's 3,400 acres of natural areas at sites such as Fall Creek Gorge, McLean Bog, and the Fischer Old-Growth Forest, doing invasive species control, trail work, mapping, site restoration, and developing management plans. In addition, the Learning Mondays exposed me to the full scope of knowledge necessary to run a public botanical garden, arboretum, and collection of natural areas. As most of my time was spent learning in forests among Cayuga's hills, I could not have asked for a better way to spend the summer!Ilia Savin '17, Natural Areas Intern, environmental science and sustainability major

“Earn While You Learn” 

Unlike many internships in the corporate sector, the Plantations internships are paid, full-time positions for a 12-week period each summer. The current cost of the program is $5,500 per intern, which includes the student's wages, program expenses for field trips and group workshops, equipment and materials, and the coordinator's salary.

Why We Need Your Help!

Plantations has funding for 6 positions with income from permanent endowments and annual commitments from generous donors, and has funded additional positions each year with money from unrestricted Annual Fund gifts. (Thanks to special one-time grants, they were able to offer 11 positions this summer.)  But with rising costs and increased pressure on the general operating budget, Plantations needs to raise $10,000 in order to be able to offer at least 8 internships in summer 2015. Your gift—at any level—will help us reach our goal and ensure funding for 2 internships next year.  Please give now!

My dream job is to design habitats for zoo animals that incorporate plants native to their home ranges. Having this internship position open to someone like myself, a student whose primary discipline is well outside of the plant sciences, is vital to the mission of Cornell Plantations as an educational instituion, and has provided me a chance I did not expect to have for a long time in my academic career—to flex my green thumb.—David Zakalik '15, Botanical Gardens Intern, animal science major

I can honestly say this is the best summer job I have ever had. Working with 6 high school students has been incredibly rewarding. I helped develop activities that emphasized different nutrient cycles, perspectives on material and food waste, soil studies, and hydraulic fracturing! I not only learned about environmental education but also how to maintain an organic garden in a sustainable way. I will carry the skills I obtained and the memories I made with me always.Anna Brown '16, Environmental Education Intern, natural resources and development sociology major

Anna Brown '16 and Esther Okech '16, Plantations 2014 summer interns

Choose a giving level


Sow a Seed

Workshop supplies (notebooks, sketchpads, etc.)


Water the Sprout

Essential equipment (e.g., garden gloves, hand-clippers, seed & plant collecting supplies)


Nurture Growth

One day’s wages for one student intern.


Let the Sun Shine

One Learning Monday field trip (e.g. Bog Day to study rare plant conservation)


Smell the Roses

Honorarium for a workshop instructor (photography, botanical illustration)


Pick a Bouquet

Hoffman Challenge Course fees for team-building workshop


Harvest the Bounty

5 Learning Mondays or 10% of one intern's summer salary


Conserve for the Future

A month’s salary for one student intern.