Two Great Locations, One Organization

Nature Academy Internships

University of Michigan Matthaei Botanical Gardens & Nichols Arboretum 2021 Nature Academy Internships

Do you want to learn about and grow organic produce for fellow students? Discover the difference between a native and invasive plant? Build an interactive map of a garden? Create a youth-ed tour from the ground up?
Join us this summer as a Matthaei-Nichols Nature Academy intern and make a difference. We’re a dynamic organization dedicated to training a new generation of environmental leaders in sustainability, conservation, education and ecological restoration.
We have a wide range of paid internships available in 2021, with five areas of interest and flexibility in length, hours, and focus: 1) Campus Farm; 2) Curation and Interpretation; 3) Development and Communications; 4) Field Services; 5) Visitor Engagement and Education.
The University of Michigan is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer.

Note on intern job descriptions

Because of evolving circumstances due to the pandemic, it’s likely that interns will receive cross-team training in order to help meet changing organizational needs, providing a broader exposure to teams and work experiences.
Internships descriptions specify whether the positions are in-person, remote or hybrid, plus start and end dates. Many positions focus on outdoor work. In-person internship work will take place in accordance with strict covid safety protocols. As part of the University of Michigan we adhere to university policy and guidelines for all public and employment programs.

Position details:

Campus Farm
The Campus Farm team is dedicated to the ecological production of food, on-farm carbon neutrality and food justice centered around food grown by students for students. Internships include a number of full time summer food production based positions as well as opportunities for engaging in research or special projects such as carbon neutrality, freight farm life cycle assessment, perennial edible landscape installation and maintenance, and more.

Campus Farm Ecological Food Production and Farming Intern              

Campus Farm Production and Farming interns are the backbone of our summer food production team to grow food for students by students through sales to MDining and donations to Maize and Blue Cupboard food pantry. Interns learn about and engage in: organic crop and transplant production, crop establishment and irrigation, organic soil, pest and weed management, equipment operation, food safety, harvest and post-harvest handling and sales. Interns will also supervise and lead volunteers, individuals, and groups. Opportunities for continued work beyond the internship as part of the Campus Farm Crew or Management Team may be possible.

Key details: Hiring up to 5 interns for full time, in-person work, 40 hours/week from May-end of August, Monday-Friday, with occasional weekends. 

Campus Farm Perennial Edible Landscape Intern 

Intern will plant, maintain and cage/fence plants. The Perennial Edible Landscape Project surrounds the strawbale structure and is inspired and informed by perennial plants that were part of traditional indigenous foodways in the Great Lakes region. Position could be combined with Ecological Food Production and Farming Internship if a full time summer position is desired. Please indicate your interest in doing this in your cover letter. 

Key details: One in-person internship, April-October. Position requires 8 hours/week in April, 16 hours/week May-August, and 8 hours/week September-October.

Campus Farm Carbon Neutrality Intern 

Oversee development of the Campus Farm Carbon Neutrality Plan including revision/finalization and analysis of current carbon footprint calculations. Internship outcomes will include a written plan including strategic objectives, action items, logic model, cost projections and associated timeline needed to achieve a carbon neutral Campus Farm. Continued employment as Campus Farm carbon neutrality manager and committee chair may be possible. This position could be combined with Ecological Food Production and Farming Internship if a full time summer position is desired. Please indicate your interest in doing this in your cover letter. 

Key details: One intern, March-December 2021 (part time, flexible hours, can be remote, 100 hours total)

Curation and Interpretation

Cultural Collections Internships

Matthaei-Nichols is in the homeland of Anishinaabe peoples and stewards native landscapes and collections. Intern projects are focused on specific cultural collections, deepening our understanding of each, and incrementally respectfully re-presenting them to our on-site and virtual publics. Work will include database, information management, and communication through text and image.

Indigenous Collaborative Garden Intern

It is likely this person will want to work with Campus Farm or another Matthaei-Nichols unit. Intern will help to prepare the garden site, participate in the planting under Tribal leadership and guidance, and maintain it through the summer. Precise record-keeping is also required. Documenting the work as well as developing social media materials is expected, but this will be vetted/edited in advance of any release by Tribal partners. Candidate must work well in teams, have skills in growing plants outdoors, and the ability to be (re)trained to garden by cultural protocols.

Key details: One in-person internship, 8 hours/week for May-August. 

Bonsai Online

Matthaei-Nichols manages a bonsai collection of approximately 60 specimens, and is acquiring a renowned private collection of bonsai, penjing and viewing rocks respected world-wide. This collection reflects (and holds exemplary specimens of) Japanese, Chinese, and American bonsai traditions. The student will help with three interlocking tasks: 1) Digitally curate the current collection’s information and photographs. 2) Format the information and photographs of the incoming collection into a coherent set of data tables and related text documents. 3) Develop a pilot web-delivered interpretive ‘catalog’ of key specimens with information and images about each that places them in culturally-coherent contexts for our publics. 

Key details: One hybrid internship, up to full time for May-August. 

Peony Garden Informatics

The student needs to have a background and/or interest in information management, and preferably is enrolled at School of Information. The work is finalizing a complex data schema and then working with the research team to migrate extensive lab, field, and historic data and images into the new system. 

Key details: One hybrid internship, hiring for immediate start, up 19 hours biweekly. Extension into the summer is possible, and then up to full time. 

Outreach & Curation Internships

These positions would work directly with program manager Catriona Mortell-Windecker in a hybrid format which will combine on-site and remote work.

Conservatory Exhibits Researcher/Writer: Part-time, rolling start/end date, possible multiple positions. As a dynamic organization, Matthaei-Nichols is in the process of refocusing the plants and interpretation within the Conservatory. The refocus will allow for new exhibits and interpretations of the collection. This position will conduct research, collection of social narratives and investigations about plants and will write text for exhibits. This position will develop various media as interpretation of the plant collection.

University Engagement Assistant: Part-time, starts August 2021 with end date flexible after September 30 (can continue through Fall term and may renew Winter Term.)

Matthaei-Nichols supports teaching and research at the University of Michigan, but it also serves a key role in student life. Time spent in nature benefits mental and physical health. This position will plan for, and represent the organization at university events such as Earth Fest, Festi-fall and new student welcome events (which may be held online or in-person); will cultivate student organization engagement. Intern will connect with student organizations (ranging from Society of Hispanic and Professional Engineers to sororities and fraternities) to identify areas of mutual interest and service. There is a possible opportunity to develop small group in-person events held at Nichols Arboretum or Matthaei Botanical Gardens. Familiarity with our organization would benefit the candidate for this position.

Development and Communications

In this position, you will work alongside the Development and Communications team, gaining high-level experience and building your resume. As a member of the team, you will develop core skills and gain experience in the areas of strategy, stewardship, public relations and marketing, event planning, benchmarking and research, data mining and analysis, corporate and foundation relations, alumni relations and engagement.

This internship is open to all majors and will provide you with transferable skills for careers in philanthropy, communications, and beyond.

Key details: One hybrid internship position, 30-40 hours/week including weekends & evenings for special events; flexible schedule and flexible start/end dates for 16 weeks from May-August.

Field Services
Work with the field services team caring for our plant collections, buildings and facilities, natural areas, turf, trails, and landscapes across our four properties.

Key details: For these in-person internships, all work will strictly adhere to necessary covid safety protocols. Positions are for May-August, 40 hours/week generally, with flexibility for part time and off hours work possibilities–please note your interest in this in your cover letter. Areas of work include:

Horticulture (conservatory, greenhouses and display gardens): work with our staff to care for plants, collections, and display gardens under glass and outdoors. Learn how to establish, maintain, and care for collections and display gardens by assisting with a variety of horticultural tasks including watering, planting, weeding, mulching, deadheading, greenhouse maintenance, and pest management.

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

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 stewardship of several garden spaces including Heathdale, Sam Graham Trees and Trail, and the Anderson Glades. Duties include planting, mulching, watering, pruning, labeling, mapping, brush clearing, and pathway maintenance using hand and power tools as needed.

Visitor Engagement and Education
Work with the visitor engagement team to provide excellent visitor experiences at both the Arb and Gardens, although positions will serve predominantly at the Matthaei location. 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 a flexible schedule with weekend and evening availability, and availability through Labor Day weekend is strongly preferred. 

Key details: Three in-person internships, following current covid guidelines and restrictions, with opportunity for limited remote work; 32-40 hours/week; expected to take place May-Labor Day.

Event Hosting: duties include hosting garden weddings and other rental events, as well as visitor services duties. Must have a flexible schedule with weekend and evening availability, and availability through Labor Day weekend is strongly preferred. 

Key details: Two in-person internships, following current covid guidelines and restrictions, with opportunity for limited remote work; 32-40 hours/week; expected to take place May-Labor Day.

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; affinity for policy, programming, design, outreach. 

Key details: 40 hours/week, with some weekend hours; mostly in person internship with possibility for remote work, May-August.

Youth education: duties include developing and leading informal science education and nature-themed activities. Create content for nature-themed digital engagement, participate in social media posts. 

Key details: One internship position, 30-40 hours/week including a few weekend & evening events; in person internship based on covid guidelines with option for hybrid work; May-August.

How to apply and what you need to know
Interested? Here’s how to apply:
1) Complete an on-line application at and
2) Attach your resume and cover letter as a PDF. Both are required.
Your cover letter should indicate the team(s) or position(s) which interest you, what you can contribute to these positions, and your availability. Indicating multiple interests is okay.
□ Applications accepted starting January 20, 2021.
□ We will participate in the following virtual job/internship fairs: 
January 28: SEAS Green Career Fair UM Green Career Fair
February 10: LSA Internship Forum The 2021 Internship Forum | UM LSA LSA Opportunity Hub
February 12: Career Center Winter Job & Internship Fair Virtual Career Fair Student Preparation | University Career Center
□ Telephone and/or Zoom interviews will begin after February 15, 2021. Positions will remain open until filled. Please note that some positions do not begin until August or September.
□ 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.
□ 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., and daily work outside.
University of Michigan Nondiscrimination Statement.

Join our Mailing List

Sign up to receive updates on news and events.