Summer Internships at MBGNA


MBGNA has a wide range of paid internships available for current college/university students in 2023, with 10 areas of interest and flexibility in length, hours, and focus:

Who We Are:

University of Michigan’s Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum (MBGNA) stewards over 840 acres of land and water across four properties in and around Ann Arbor, with Nichols Arboretum and Matthaei Botanical Gardens serving as its two anchor locations. Click here to view our Strategic Plan. With more than 500,000 annual visitors, MBGNA is committed to becoming a transformative force for social and ecological resilience through the lands and waters we steward. We put that commitment into action by:  

  • Positioning humans as active participants within the natural world and compelling the university community and our publics to negotiate the full complexity that entails

  • Advancing partnerships, programs, user experience, and all that we steward to catalyze equity and justice in a radically changing world

  • Emerging as University of Michigan’s premier partner for research, teaching, and public impact in sustainability, climate-forward practices, and biocultural diversity

  • Promoting healthier communities, cultures, and ecosystems through active care and cultivation of the gardens, fields, natural habitats, and dynamic systems that sustain our world.

three people stnd next to a wood chipper wearing hard hats and ear protection
four people work on a controled prairie burn

Campus Farm 

The Campus Farm is a student-driven, multi-stakeholder, living-learning lab for sustainable food systems work on campus. The farm is dedicated to the ecological production of food, on-farm carbon neutrality, and food justice centered around food grown by students for students. Produce grown on the farm goes to dining halls on campus, UM Farm Stand, Maize and Blue Cupboard food pantry, and other food access programs in the community. 

Intern responsibilities include:

  • Organic transplant seeding, watering and care
  • Crop planting, weeding, irrigation, pest and disease management
  • Organic and ecological soil management
  • Small farm-equipment and hand tool use and operation
  • Harvest, post-harvest handling, food safety, sales and distribution

Key skills and attributes:

  • Candidates should enjoy physical and at times strenuous work, being outdoors, and reaping the physical and metaphorical fruits (and vegetables) of their labor. 
  • Ability and willingness to work in an inclusive and team-oriented way with diverse audiences, partner organizations, and programs involved with the Campus Farm.
  • This position may require a valid driver’s license and a motor vehicle record check in order to operate MBGNA vehicles.

Key details: Internships are full time farm work 40 hours/week, Monday-Friday, from May 1 through August 25 with some required weekends. Positions include a blend of in season farm management responsibilities related to crop production, distribution and sales including weekly work plan development and execution. Potential for continuation part time into fall term exists as do opportunities for possible advancement into student management team roles. Positions are based primarily at Campus Farm at Matthaei Botanical Gardens, with travel in provided UM vehicles to campus locations for produce sales and delivery.

Return to top


The Curation team is responsible for building the intellectual value, content, and future of the living collections we steward to be a transformative force for social and ecological resilience. Collections span the scale from plants in pots to entire natural ecosystem fragments. Curation interacts with all other parts of the institution as well as external communities. Interns help move critical projects forward which usually require a specific range of skills. Faculty curator supervisors are Dr. David C. Michener (exotics and cultural collections) and Mike Kost (natural areas and cultural collections). 

Bonsai and Peonies Web-based Content

MBGNA manages information-rich bonsai and peony collections, each of which have parallel data structures that inform websites for the Bonsai and Penjing Collection | Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum, and the peony collection Peony Bed Maps. We are increasingly focused on our collection access and year-round educational use worldwide, not just during peak in-person visitation.  

Intern responsibilities include assisting with three interlocking tasks in both contexts: 

1) Digitally curate the current collection’s information and photographs. 

2) Format the information and photographs of the historic and incoming collection into a coherent set of data tables and related text documents. 

3) Further develop the web-based interpretive ‘catalog’ of key specimens with information and images about each that places them in culturally-coherent contexts for our publics. 

Key Skills and Attributes:

  • Experience with data curation

Key details: One hybrid internship, up to 40 hours per week for May-August

Indigenous Collaborative Garden 

This collaborative joint position will work with the Curators and the Campus Farm staff to prepare the Indigenous Collaborative Garden site, participate in the planting under Tribal leadership and guidance, and maintain the garden through the summer. The balance of the position’s time will be spent as part of the Campus Farm production team.

Intern responsibilities include: 

  • Precise record-keeping and documentation of the work is required
  • Developing social media materials is expected, but this will be vetted/edited in advance of any release by Tribal partners. 

Key Skills and Attributes:

  • Prior engagement or interest with social justice work and/or food sovereignty work
  • Work well in teams 
  • Skills or experience in growing plants outdoors
  • Ability to be (re)trained to garden by cultural protocols
  • This position may require a valid driver’s license and a motor vehicle record check in order to operate MBGNA vehicles.

Key details: One in-person internship, 40 hours/week (approximately 1/4 time on garden, and 3/4 time, Campus Farm production) for May-August. 

Vegetation Monitoring Internship (2 interns)

The interns will work with the Associate Curator to develop and implement vegetation monitoring protocols for natural communities to assess ecological change over time under differing management regimes. 

Intern responsibilities will include:

  • Herbaceous and woody plant vegetation sampling, water quality sampling, data management and analysis, and literature review.

Key Skills and Attributes:

  • Coursework in identification of herbaceous plants preferred
  • Coursework in woody plant identification or aquatic ecology helpful

Key details: In-person work, 40 hours/week from May to end of August. Locations of work include both Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum.

Return to top


The Development Department consists of our Major Gifts, Annual Giving, and Volunteer programs. We are focused on increasing MBGNA’s strategic capacity through robust volunteer engagement and private support. We support and promote Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum’s mission by: creating opportunities for meaningful engagement with MBGNA; building mutually supportive relationships with members, volunteers and donors; and converting awareness into understanding, support, and action.

Membership Acquisition and Events Intern

Work alongside the Development team of professionals to gain experience in all phases of development, including donor stewardship, event planning, customer service, volunteer coordination, and more.

Intern responsibilities include:

  • Coordinate and support events that engage donors, including: plant sales, Shakespeare in the Arb, Bonsai 10-year anniversary celebrations and other similar public-facing events. Tasks include preparation of printed materials, space planning, reservations, event support, and coordinating volunteers.
  • Implement strategies that turn visitors into members. Tasks include in-person solicitation and preparation of membership renewal letters.

Key Skills and Attributes:

  • Experience in customer service
  • Volunteer coordination
  • Event planning
  • Weekend and evening availability for events
  • Work with the public in various settings (outdoors, greenhouses, indoors) 

Key details: In-person work, 40 hours/week for 16 weeks from May to end of August. Potential to continue part-time through Fall term and may renew in Winter term. 

Return to top

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion 

The Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Department advances MBGNA’s strategic commitment to DEI through evaluation and planning. This work is led by the MBGNA DEI Manager and DEI Committee to support and promote Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum’s mission by: improving accessibility in organizational processes, spaces, and actions; expanding regional relationships to propel access and justice; and developing co-laboratory futures for equity, justice, and biocultural diversity.

Student Program Assistant

The DEI Student Programming Assistant reports to the DEI Manager. This position is an opportunity to be creative in developing DEI-centered events for MBGNA, support development and implementation of the DEI Strategic Plan, and enhance the organization’s community and climate.

Intern responsibilities:

  • Plan, coordinate, and facilitate events for Winter 2023. Topics will vary but must focus on botanical gardens, arboreta, and environmental justice.
  • Inform and collaborate with MBGNA Visitor Services staff and the Marketing & Communications Manager to execute events.
  • Attend weekly check-ins with the DEI Manager and other meetings as necessary

Key details: Students have flexibility to do work remotely, 40 hours/week. May be expected to support some programs in-person on weekends and evenings, as needed. 

Return to top


MBGNA is committed to engaging all ages in a variety of formal and non-formal educational modalities. Multi-generational engagement includes: Innovative Nature Play, a pathway to healthy human development and pro-earth behaviors, K-12 environmental education and immersive nature experiences, sharing knowledge through public exhibits and interpretation, UM and other university and college student engagement and research partnerships. The Education department strives to develop polycentric, equitable and just programming, engagement and interpretation that amplifies biocultural diversity and strategically aligns with MBGNA futures. 

Gaffield Children’s Garden Nature Play (2 positions)

Work in a dynamic outdoor space while promoting outdoor Nature Play.

Intern responsibilities include: 

  • Develop and staff informal educational centers based on principles of Nature Play
  • Provide garden and eco-system maintenance 
  • Intern may also collaborate with community and regional partners in support of nature access and play equity. 

Key Skills and Attributes:

  • A desire to work outside
  • An affinity for policy, programming, design, outreach
  • This position may require a valid driver’s license and a motor vehicle record check in order to operate MBGNA vehicles.

Key details: 40 hours/week, with some weekend and/or evening hours; in person internship with possibility for remote work, May-August. Note: Since internship positions that involve work with children require a background check, students offered a position will be required to go through a background check process.

Youth Education (2 positions)

Interns will develop and implement interactive, informal environmental education and STEAM-related activities for K-12 field trips and youth programs, and will gain proficiency connecting Michigan and National science learning goals to outdoor, immersive learning. Interns will gain skills in leadership, program creation, and collaboration. 

Intern responsibilities include:

  • Develop & implement activities for youth programs and K-12 field trips
  • Helping to create content utilizing data collected and mapped on site, in order to foster connections between people, plants and the planet.  

Key Skills and Attributes:

  • Candidates should enjoy working with children and working outdoors

Key details: Interns work 35-40 hours/week including some weekend and evening programs, May-August. Primarily in-person with options for some hybrid work. Note: Since internship positions that involve work with children require a background check, students offered a position will be required to go through a background check process.  

Return to top


The Facilities Team works closely with all other units in MBGNA and University Facilities and Operations to ensure safe, clean, operating condition of buildings, systems, infrastructure and grounds across four diverse properties. We also collaborate with University Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) and Campus Planning on infrastructure projects for MBGNA’s four diverse properties.

Equipment and Landscapes (2 positions)

Work with staff to help maintain equipment, hardscapes, and grounds using a variety of tools and equipment.

Responsibilities include: 

  • Mowing, trimming, weeding, blowing, power washing, routine maintenance, cleaning and exterior care of buildings, power equipment, landscapes, and hardscapes.
Facilities Maintenance (2 positions)

Work with staff and university trades to help maintain buildings, infrastructure, and systems through inspection and routine monitoring. 

Responsibilities include: 

  • Light handy work, routine inspection of buildings, greenhouses, systems, and utilities, powerwashing, cleaning, painting, etc.
Project Assistant (1 position)

Work with the staff to facilitate special projects and installations. This position will work closely with university infrastructure and planning departments to coordinate and facilitate construction work at MBGNA. 

Responsibilities include: 

  • Site walks, submitting estimate requests, reviewing design plans, maintaining detailed project files and notes, taking progress photos 
  • Working with project managers, contractors, and vendors to ensure safety onsite and during construction 
  • Coordinating staging areas and access for contractors to protect, preserve or restore site conditions during and after construction 
  • Attending progress meetings and liaising for university architects and engineers on behalf of MBGNA.

Key skills and attributes:

  • These positions may require a valid driver’s license and a motor vehicle record check in order to operate MBGNA vehicles.

Key details: For these in-person internships, positions are for May-August, 40 hours/week with the possibility of weekend and evening work; some possible flexibility for candidates interested in part-time work. Please note this in your cover letter. Locations of work include both Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum.

Return to top


The Horticulture Team includes staff caring for the plants in MBGNA’s display gardens, conservatory, and greenhouse. Team members regularly interact with visitors, volunteers, and other MBGNA departments during the course of their workday. Assist with preparing and hosting garden related events which include 10 year anniversaries for the Bonsai Garden and Great Lakes Garden.

Conservatory, greenhouses and display gardens (8 positions)

Intern responsibilities: 

  • Work with our staff to care for plants, collections, and display gardens under glass and outdoors, including the bonsai and peony collections. 
  • 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.

Based at Matthaei Botanical Gardens:

  • Bonsai Care (1 position): focused on routine and specialized care of Bonsai trees under supervision of a staff member and includes maintaining the Bonsai Garden landscape.
  • Conservatory & Greenhouse (2 positions): focused on assisting with greenhouse plant production, conservatory collection care and display, and routine support tasks.
  • Display Gardens (2 positions): focused on routine gardening care of the thematic display gardens including the Perennial, Gateway, and Herb-Knot gardens.
  • Native Plants (1 position): focused on but not limited to the Great Lakes Garden and other native plant gardens, with primary tasks including general gardening, invasive species removal, and planting native plants.

Based at Nichols Arboretum:

  • Peony Garden (2 positions): focused on the preparation of and presentation of the peony collection including the surrounding landscape while providing some assistance with curating the collection.

Key skills and attributes:

  • These positions may require a valid driver’s license and a motor vehicle record check in order to operate MBGNA vehicles.

Key details: These in-person internships are for May-August, 40 hours/week with weekend work required for greenhouse and conservatory watering (typically 2 weekends per summer), and possibly some evening work. There are opportunities for candidates interested in part-time work: please note this in your cover letter.

Return to top

Marketing and Communications

The Marketing and Communications department works with many of the departments at MBGNA to ensure rich storytelling, visitor engagement, relationship building, and information sharing.  

Marketing and Communications Media Assistant (1 position)

Work with MBGNA’s Marketing and Communications Manager to share stories and information about MBGNA through video and digital media content.  

Responsibilities include: 

  • Video production, recording, and editing, as well as some visual design.

Key Skills and Attributes:

  • Experience in video production; some design experience
  • Students should be prepared to share examples of their previous work.

Key details: One internship position, 20-30 hours/week May through August. This is a hybrid position: regular onsite attendance is required for recording and in-person storytelling elements at Matthaei and Nichols Arboretum with work location flexibility beyond that. 

Digital Engagement Researcher (1 position)

As part of MBGNA’s strategic goals, we are looking for ways to deepen the guest experience with onsite digital engagement and offerings for offsite digital visitors.

Intern responsibilities include:

  • Conduct potential user surveys, and determine front-end needs (visitor experience) and back-end prep and maintenance (preparation and staff time) to offer digital engagement experiences for our audiences. 
  • Conduct, survey, and inquire about UM tools and research as well as industry-packaged programs through meetings with UM departments, and similar Garden/Arboretum/cultural institutions. 
  • Report findings and recommendations.

Key details: One internship, hybrid position with both onsite and remote hours possible. Up to full-time, 30 to 40 hours per week, including some weekend and evening work during survey times for May through August. This position will report to both the Marketing and Communications Manager and Educational Interpretation staff member. 

Return to top

Natural Areas, Woody Plants and Trails

The Natural Areas, Woody Plants and Trails Department takes care of over 800 acres of natural areas, thousands of trees and shrubs, and miles of paths and trails across our four properties. We engage with, help educate, and train members of the community on ecology, natural history, ecological restoration, conservation, arboriculture, as well as building and maintaining safe and accessible trails that help people connect with nature. 

Natural Areas Stewardship (4 positions)

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. 

Responsibilities include:

  • Using power equipment, herbicides, and other techniques 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 (5 positions)

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.

Responsibilities include: 

  • Planting, mulching, watering, pruning, labeling, mapping, brush clearing, and pathway maintenance using hand and power tools as needed.

Key skills and attributes:

  • These positions may require a valid driver’s license and a motor vehicle record check in order to operate MBGNA vehicles.

Key details: These in-person positions are for May-August, 40 hours/week. There are opportunities for candidates interested in part-time work: please note this in your cover letter. Positions will be based at both Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum, requiring travel between locations, plus several trips to two other MBGNA remote locations.

Return to top

Visitor Experience

Work with the visitor experience team as the primary point of contact for many of our over 500,000 annual visitors at both the Nichols Arboretum and Matthaei Botanical Gardens. Positions available with this team: 

Event Hosting

Responsibilities may include: 

  • Hosting garden weddings and other rental events
  • Assisting with other public event operations like Shakespeare in the Arb
  • Will also perform other visitor services when events are not occurring. 

Key skills and attributes:

  • Must have a flexible schedule with weekend and evening availability.
  • Availability from early May through Labor Day strongly preferred.

Key details: Two in-person internships, 32-40 hours/week. Positions will be based primarily at Matthaei Botanical Gardens.

Shakespeare in the Arb Production (SITA) Assistant

The student will learn all aspects of being a Production Assistant on the outdoor theater production of Shakespeare in the Arb at Nichols Arboretum. This position will work closely with MBGNA staff and SITA directorial teams to manage the operations of staging “Much Ado About Nothing” for the complete run of the show. Position will be based primarily at Nichols Arboretum.

Responsibilities will include: 

  • Training and managing volunteer ushers
  • Audience management which includes preparing tickets, managing box office reports, directing attendees
  • Transporting personnel and equipment with a golf cart
  • Opening and closing the Nichols Arboretum Visitor Center

Key skills and attributes:

  • This position requires a valid driver’s license and a motor vehicle record check in order to operate a golf cart or other MBGNA vehicles.
  • Must be able to work outside for hours in a variety of weather conditions.

Key details: One in-person internship, 40 hours/week from approximately 2 p.m. to 10 p.m., Wednesdays through Sundays at Nichols Arboretum, located at 1610 Washington Heights, Ann Arbor, Michigan. This position will run for six weeks beginning Wednesday, May 24, 2023 through Sunday, June 26, 2023 returning Thursday, August 31, 2023 through Monday, September 4, 2023 for the Labor Day performances of the play during U-M Welcome Week.

Visitor Services 

Responsibilities include: 

  • Greeting visitors, taking phone calls and communicating information about our properties and programs, assisting with retail operations, plant sales, rentals, and special events. 

Key skills and attributes:

  • Must have a flexible schedule with weekend and evening availability.
  • Availability from early May through Labor Day strongly preferred. 

Key details: Four in-person internships, 32-40 hours/week. Positions will be based at both Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum, though will serve predominantly at the Matthaei location. 

Return to top

How to Apply

Applications are welcomed and encouraged from all qualified individuals regardless of background and identity.

1) Complete an on-line application.

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

3) Applicants may select two positions of interest.

Your one-page cover letter should be attached as the first page of your resume and should address your specific interest in the internship position(s), and outline experience that directly relates to it. Please 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 19, 2023. 
  • Phone, in-person, and/or Zoom interviews will begin after February 15, 2023. 
  • Application deadline: March 15, 2023. Positions will remain open until filled. 
    • Positions are limited apply early!

Required Qualifications

Graduated high school and currently enrolled in a college/university by the internship start date of May 1, 2023, or a December 2022 or spring 2023 college or university graduate.

Additional Information

  • We will participate in the following internship fairs:
  • Hours: Up to 40 hours per week, including possible weekends and evenings.
  • Compensation: $15/hour.
  • Work Location: The primary work location for most of these internships is on-site at Matthaei Botanical Gardens, 1800 N. Dixboro Road, Ann Arbor. If there is a different primary work location it will be listed in the key details.
  • Many positions require an ability to move up to 40lbs., and daily work outside.

Key Details

MBGNA seeks to recruit and retain a diverse workforce as a reflection of our commitments to serve the diverse people of Michigan and sustain the excellence of University of Michigan. 

For more information about Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum, please visit

Background Screening

The University of Michigan conducts background checks on students who will be working with children or from other colleges or universities (including UM-Dearborn and UM-Flint) upon acceptance of a contingent offer and may use a third-party administrator to conduct background checks.  Background checks are performed in compliance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

U-M EEO/AA Statement

The University of Michigan is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer.

U-M COVID-19 Vaccination Policy:

COVID-19 vaccinations, including one booster when eligible, are required for all University of Michigan students, faculty and staff across all campuses, including Michigan Medicine. This includes those working remotely and temporary workers.  More information on this new policy is available on the U-M Health Response website or the UM-Dearborn and UM-Flint websites.