Membership dollars go to supporting many incredible things at Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum – including our summer interns! These summer internships provide students with real-world experience in horticulture, research, curation, conservation, field services, visitor engagement, administration and much more. Interns work on impactful projects at the gardens and arboretum while taking advantage of career building learning opportunities. Here are some interns sharing their experiences at Matthaei-Nichols and thanking members for their invaluable support.



Dear Matthaei-Nichols Members,

Thank you for your support and being a member of Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum! Your contribution is helping me spend my summer as a natural areas intern at Matthaei-Nichols.

I graduated this past spring with a Bachelors of Science in Biology and a minor in Environmental Studies from the University of Michigan-Dearborn. Throughout my time as an undergraduate, I gained experience in research and environmental education, and I even started my own student environmental organization.

This summer, I hope to learn more about environmental restoration techniques and Michigan’s unique flora and fauna. For my summer intern project, I’m excited to be conducting a research project that assesses the biodiversity of pollinators found on invasive flora.  I’m hoping to use my past experiences along with my internship at Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum to further my career and get closer to my goal of becoming a wildlife biologist.

I greatly appreciate your contribution, and I plan to continue my work in sustainability and conservation to promote a thriving environment for future generations.


Jennifer Zavalnitskaya



Dear Members,

Please accept my sincere thanks for your support of my internship and those of my colleagues this summer.

I am a recent graduate from the University of Michigan Program in the Environment where I earned a Bachelor of Science studying environmental policy and law and sustainability. However, for the last 16 months as an employee of Matthaei-Nichols in internship and work-study positions, my interest has shifted in the direction of plants!

This summer I hope to broaden my understanding of plants, plant care, and conservation. So far I have explored issues of erosion control and nutrient availability in the conservatory and gained commercial pesticide certification.

This internship opportunity has impacted my professional path, and I cannot thank you enough for your support. I plan to continue giving back to the next generation as you have, through my work at Matthaei-Nichols and my endeavors after.


Mason Opp