By Sarah Fiorello

To Apply: Apply here via Workday.

Mentor: Missy Bidwell, Greenhouse Manager

Time Commitment

  • This position is full time (39 hours/week) for Summer of ’23 (may include occasional weekend work)
  • 5-10 hours/week during the fall ’23 and spring ‘24 semesters (may include occasional weekend work)
  • Term of the position could be extended after the spring of ‘24 semester depending on students interests and availability.
  • Position requires Ithaca residency. Time off can be arranged.

Salary: $15.00/hour

Application Deadline: March 5, 2023

What is Learning by Leading (LxL)?

We believe that students learn best by doing and leading. Leadership skills and real-world experience combine to help our students address important environmental issues. The Learning by Leading, or LxL, program provides students with semester- and year-long internships that involve student leadership; collaborative; co-created projects between student teams, staff and faculty; experiential learning; and real-world problem solving at Cornell Botanic Gardens. LxL is built on a small team-based structure, in which a Botanic Gardens staff mentor is paired with two student co-leaders. These two student leaders learn from and work with their mentor to understand the work and how to lead other students in such work. After a summer intensive training and exposure to the mentor’s work, the two student co-leaders recruit, manage, and lead a small team of student volunteers who will, with the guidance and support of the staff mentor, carry out student led projects and initiatives that work toward achieving Botanic Gardens’ mission. Learning by Leading is an opportunity to experience independence, teamwork, and student leadership (similar to that of a student club), with the support of professional expertise, administrative connections, and funding of a well-established, major public facing institution such as Cornell Botanic Gardens.

Horticultural Enterprises Team

The Horticultural Enterprises team will learn the practice of and gain experience in plant propagation and cultivation for periodic plant sales hosted by Botanic Gardens. Learning alongside Botanic Gardens’ staff, team members will gain hands-on experience working in a greenhouse and nursery on plant production, as well as other aspects of the organization. Team members will learn methods for seeding and propagating a variety of plants as well as tasks such as irrigation, pruning, repotting, integrated pest management, plant health care practices, and crop scheduling to meet target sale dates. The team will learn how to prepare for plant sale events, working with Botanic Gardens’ staff and other LxL teams to market, manage and educate customers at the plant sale events. The Horticultural Enterprises team may also help produce plants for projects being carried out by other LxL teams and Botanic Gardens staff. In addition to greenhouse and nursery management, team members will gain experience in landscape gardening tasks such as bed preparation, planting, watering, and other practices to learn about our plant collections and to better understand the full cycle of plant production and care.

The Horticulture Enterprise Team currently consists of 2 paid student co-leaders and a group of student volunteers. During the summer, the co-leaders dedicate their time to learning greenhouse management with their mentor without the responsibility of leading the student volunteers. Upon the beginning of the school year, the co-leaders organize and schedule workshops and greenhouse work for each of the student volunteers as well as hold team meetings on a weekly basis throughout the academic year.

What does a Horticultural Enterprises Team co-leader do?

During the summer of 2023:

  • Report to Cornell Botanic Gardens greenhouses for work
  • Learn to navigate the greenhouse
  • Assist with propagation, watering, maintenance of plants
  • Work with Botanic Gardens Staff to become familiar with the grounds and the plants that we work with
  • Brainstorm and begin planning projects of interest 
  • Prepare for plant sales
  • Select and schedule plants for production
  • Care for plants
  • Market plant sale
  • Prepare plant labels for sale
  • Interact with customers at plant sales
  • Work with Gardens staff and sustainable landscape LxL team on plants needed for projects

End of summer 2023 and beginning of fall semester:

  • Recruit more team members to join the existing horticulture enterprise team
  • Create materials to market the team and gain student engagement 
  • Attend events such as Eco Fest to table and talk with students about the team to gauge interest 
  • Conduct interviews and select a manageable number of students to lead
  • Create a calendar of events for the year such as plant sales, workshops, team meetings, field trips 
  • Decide on a time to meet weekly with your advisor Missy
  • Decide on a time to meet weekly with your team

During the school year:

  • Continue work in the greenhouses when available 
  • Lead your team of student volunteers and create a schedule for when each volunteer is available to help with greenhouse tasks
  • Implement skills learned over the summer in a team setting
  • Host plant sales and events on and off campus
  • Keep detailed financial records and manage inventory for plant sales
  • Review and assess plant sale results
  • Collaborate with Hortus Forum and other student and/or community groups as appropriate for mutually beneficial sale opportunities
  • Occasionally engage in other duties, collaborations, and learning opportunities throughout the botanic gardens to help meet mission focused goals.

Duties and Responsibilities

  • Communicate with mentor routinely and keep her “in the know”.
  • Collaborate with the fellow student co-leader and staff mentor on projects.
  • Recruit, manage, coordinate, and motivate a team of 5-15 volunteer student team members.
  • Schedule and lead regular meetings with student team members.
  • Participate in training on leadership, teamwork, diversity, equity, and inclusion
  • Work independently and together in teams – empowering others and fostering teamwork
  • Co-create, with staff mentor, team-directed projects that reflect the team’s focus area and advance Botanic Gardens’ mission and strategic goals


  • Uphold and carry out Cornell Botanic Gardens’ vision, mission, and values
  • Exhibit strong professional ethics and accountability
  • Lead by example, empower others, and foster inclusive teamwork
  • Embrace a diversity of identities, experiences, and perspectives
  • Represent Cornell Botanic Gardens with professionalism and integrity
  • Willingness to work outdoors in all weather conditions
  • Ability and willingness to do repetitive tasks
  • Ability and willingness to lift and move heavy objects and engage in physical labor
  • Learn and follow proper safety protocols


  • Currently an enrolled Cornell University undergraduate student; all majors are invited to apply
  • Strong leadership and teamwork skills; ability to adapt in small, dynamic teams
  • Good interpersonal skills and ability to manage conflict
  • Critical thinking, planning, and problem-solving skills
  • Experience with or interest in horticulture and greenhouse production, sales helpful but not required

To Apply: Apply here via Workday.

For more information: contact Missy Bidwell

Application deadline: February 26, 2023