Two Great Locations, One Organization

Nature Academy Internships

2020 Nature Academy Internships

We are hiring up to 40 paid university and college student interns to participate in our Nature Academy program from May 4 – mid-August, 2020 (end dates vary based on team needs). The Nature Academy is focused on training a new generation of environmental leaders in sustainability, conservation, education and ecological restoration. Matthaei-Nichols is the center for rich and diverse nature-based experiences for the University of Michigan.

We have positions in five areas of interest (scroll down for details):
1) Visitor Engagement & Education, 2) Academics, Curation & Interpretation, 3) Campus Farm, 4) NOTE: Development & Communications positions have been filled, 5) Field Services.

Interested? Here’s how to apply:

1) Click on the “Apply Now” button below or complete an on-line application here.

2) Attach your resume and cover letter as a PDF. Both are required.

Your cover letter should indicate the team(s) or position(s) that interest you. It’s okay to indicate multiple interests.

  • Applications accepted starting January 14, 2020.
  • In person and/or telephone interviews will begin February 17, 2020. Positions will remain open until filled.
  • Positions are limited apply early!
  • Hours: Up to 40 hours per week, including possible weekends and evenings.
  • Compensation: $11 – 12.00/hour. Compensation rate is based on education, experience and specialized skills.
  • All positions begin May 4, 2020 with the end date of mid-late August, depending on team needs.
  • Required qualifications: university or college student with a good work ethic, enthusiasm for teamwork, and a willingness to learn is required.
  • Many positions require an ability to lift up to 40lbs. as well as daily work outside.

Position details:

Visitor Engagement & Education

Work with the visitor engagement team to provide excellent visitor experiences at both the Arb and Gardens. Positions available with this team:

Visitor Services: duties include greeting visitors, taking phone calls and communicating information about our properties and programs, assisting with retail operations, and working with volunteers. Must have flexible schedule with weekend and evening availability.

Event Hosting: duties include hosting garden weddings and other rental events, as well as visitor services duties. Must have flexible schedule with weekend and evening availability.

Gaffield Children’s Garden: duties combine garden and eco-system maintenance with developing and staffing informal environmental education centers based on principles of nature play. A desire to work outside is essential.

Youth Education: duties include developing and presenting informal education programs based on pre-K–12 science-learning goals as well as interactive nature-themed activities. Must have some weekend availability.

Academics, Curation & Interpretation

Positions available with this team include:

Interpretative media development: Conduct research to produce written interpretative content, graphics, and design.

Academic outreach & student engagement: Develop programs, and materials for engagement with the University of Michigan community.

Campus Farm

Work with the Campus Farm student and staff managers to operate the University of Michigan student-run Campus Farm at Matthaei Botanical Gardens. Grow food for your fellow students through sales to MDining and donations to Maize & Blue Cupboard. Learn about organic crop and transplant production, organic soil and pest management, equipment operation, food safety, harvest and post-harvest handling, sales and ecological agriculture. Interns will supervise and lead volunteers, individuals, and groups at various sites. 

  • Organic crop production: planting, irrigation, weeding, transplant production, soil and pest management.
  • Harvesting & sales: coordinating orders, washing, packing, and delivery of produce to MDining.
  • Site development and maintenance: fencing, wash pack facilities, passive solar greenhouses, cold storage, establishment of pollinator habitat etc.
  • Supervising and leading volunteers, individuals and groups
  • Involvement with: maintenance of on-campus gardens at East Quad, Ginsberg Center, and Ross rooftop, as well as heritage seeds garden at Matthaei.
Development & Communications

Work alongside the Development and Communications team of professionals to gain experience in all phases of development, including prospect and donor research and data mining, benchmarking, communications, marketing, donor stewardship, and event planning.

Field Services

Work with the field services team on indoor and outdoor operations. Help to establish, maintain, and care for the plant collections, natural areas, turf, trails, and landscapes found within our conservatory, greenhouses, and on our four properties. Interns will work alone and in teams, with staff and volunteers. Positions available:

Bonsai and Penjing Garden: work with our bonsai collection specialist to help care for our collection of bonsai and penjing. Duties include watering, moving plants, assisting volunteers, tending the landscaping, paths, and structures.

Conservatory and greenhouse: work with our conservatory and greenhouse manager to help care for the plants under glass, assisting with a variety of horticultural tasks. Duties include watering, potting, pest management, and keeping the greenhouses clean.

Facilities, equipment and landscaping: work with our facilities and landscaping team to help maintain our buildings, landscapes, hardscapes, and grounds. Duties include mowing, trimming, blowing, power washing, inspecting and routine maintenance, cleaning and care of buildings, utilities, power equipment, landscapes, and hardscapes.

Great Lakes Gardens of Native Plants: work with our garden manager and curator of native plants to help care for this priority collection of native plants from unique ecosystems around the Great Lakes region. Duties include planting, weeding, watering, and special emphasis on tending the orchid garden within the Great Lakes Gardens.

Display Gardens: work with our garden manager in the Nichols Arboretum Peony Garden and several display gardens, entrance gardens, and outdoor event spaces at Matthaei Botanical Gardens. Duties include planting, watering, weeding, mulching, dead heading, raking paths, etc.

Natural Areas Stewardship: work with our natural areas manager using ecological restoration techniques to care for the unique ecosystems found on over 800 acres of natural areas on our four properties. Duties include using power equipment, herbicides, and prescribed fire to control exotic invasive plants. Scouting and collection of native plant seeds. Survey for important conservation targets (eastern massasauga rattlesnake) and threats (new occurrences of exotic invasive species).

Woody Plants and Trails: assist our woody plants and trails manager with the care and maintenance of hundreds of our trees and shrubs, miles of paths and trails, and several of our special collections including Heathdale, Sam Graham Trees and Trail, and the Sue Reichert Trail. Duties include planting, mulching, watering, pruning, labeling, mapping, brush clearing, and pathway maintenance.


Name that intern

Learn More

Our interns are funded by donors and members.

And some of those internships are named, adding to the prestige of the position. For example, the Elizabeth Needham Graham Endowment—named in memory of a long-time docent—monitors, maintains, and interprets the Sam Graham Trees and Trail at Matthaei Botanical Gardens. As an intern, your work helps to sustain the important natural areas and beautiful gardens that are so critical to our mission. If you’re a donor, member, or are interested in supporting our internship program, visit our Student Support Giving page.

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