Cultivating student leaders

Learning by Leading is an experienced based program that allows students to take the lead on real-world projects related to our sustainability, horticulture, and education efforts. Learning by doing, building relationships, co-creating, solving problems, and developing leadership skills by working as a team guided by a staff mentor are the pillars of program. Student teams form early in the fall semester and work together throughout the academic year at the Gardens, across campus, and in our community.

Learn more

Garden Ambassador Team

The Garden Ambassador Team creates education and outreach-focused programs for students, alumni, and community members under the mentorship of our Student and Public Engagement Coordinator. This team represents the Gardens at Cornell events such as Orientation, Family Weekend, and a host of student-centered festivals and events. The team also develops and delivers hands-on educational activities designed to connect people and plants. Team members have led tours, coordinated forums and workshops, created art installations, and crafted engagement opportunities for learners of all ages.

Sustainable Landscapes Team

The Sustainable Landscapes Team learns about sustainable landscaping principles and design, native plants, plant and soil health care, and develops, installs, and maintains sustainable landscapes at the Gardens and throughout campus. Under the mentorship of our Natural Areas Gardener, the team designed and installed the Class of 1971 Medicinal Garden at Cornell Health and a sustainable healing garden for the Akwe:kon residence, part of the American Indian and Indigenous Studies Program. These projects and others help move Cornell towards its sustainable campus goals.

Horticulture Enterprise Team

The Horticultural Enterprise Team gains hands-on experience in plant production by working in our plant production facility. Under the mentorship of our Greenhouse Manager, team members learn about plant propagation and the cultivation of plants for sale and for use in the Gardens. Team members source and grow plants for team projects, provide plant care workshops, host plant sales, and learn about retail sales marketing and management. Partners on campus and in our community collaborate with team members to grow, sell, and educate about plants.

Youth Education Team

The Youth Education team is the newest Learning by Leading team at Cornell Botanic Gardens. The Youth Education Team is dedicated to outreach, engagement, and informal education with youth (K-12) audiences. Under the guidance of our education staff, team members conceive, develop, implement, and refine activities to support youth programs that promote learning about plants through age-appropriate hands-on activities and programs. Team members coordinate education activities for youth and family programs and events such as, open houses, visits to local classrooms, and youth and family centered programs hosted onsite at Cornell Botanic Gardens.

Team Openings

apply by May 10, 2024

Co-Leader Learning by Leading Youth Education Team

Apply to co-lead a team of peers who will carry out youth education for the Gardens.

Apply by May 10, 2024

Co-Leader Learning by Leading Horticulture Enterprise Team

Apply to co-lead a team of peers who will carry out student-led plant production and plant sales.

Apply by May 24, 2024

Co-Leader Learning by Leading Sustainable Landscape Team

Apply to co-lead a team of peers who will carry out sustainable landscaping projects.

Stories about Learning by Leading projects


Students ‘Learning by Leading’ in the Cornell Botanic Gardens

Student-led teams embrace a growth mindset while creating projects, taking risks, and learning to lead through experience.


Collaboration brings healing, honoring garden to Akwe:kon

A new garden at Akwe:kon, established by students from the American Indian and Indigenous Studies Program and Cornell Botanic Gardens, aims to honor Indigenous students and their connection to the land.

In the News

A healing garden for student health

A new garden designed and installed by Cornell students brings the healing power of nature to Cornell Health.

Moments of Connection

Cultivating Connection Through Plants with Colah B Tawkin

Colah B Tawkin, founder of the Black in the Garden podcast, visited Cornell and hosted a series of events focused on the celebratory uses of plants in Black cultures.

More about our student engagement programs!

Click on the images below to explore student engagement opportunities at Cornell Botanic Gardens.

Private: Summer Internship

Our summer internship program provides an educational and work experience involving hands-on training that builds on classroom learning.

Graduate Study

A one-year Masters of Professional Studies degree program for individuals interested in leading botanical gardens, arboreta, and similar organizations.

Cornell Engagement

We offer opportunities for Cornell faculty, staff and students to engage with us.