By Sarah Fiorello

We are not currently taking applications for this position (February, 2023)

Mentor: Krissy Boys, Natural Areas Horticulturist

Time Commitment

  • 7-10 hours/week (may include occasional weekend work) during the spring ’22, fall ’22 and spring ‘23 semesters
  • This position is full time (39 hours/week) for Summer of ’22 (may include occasional weekend work)
  • Position requires Ithaca residency. Time off can be arranged.

Salary: $15.00/hour

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 semester of 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.

Sustainable Landscapes Team

The Sustainable Landscapes team will collaborate with our horticulture and natural areas staff to design, develop, install and maintain sustainable landscapes at Cornell Botanic Gardens and throughout campus. These landscapes may be gardens such as our Botanic Buzzline or they may be natural areas such as our Wildflower Garden. Both cultivated and natural landscapes can be sustainable. This team’s efforts will work toward helping the Gardens and the University achieve their sustainability goals through sustainable practices in gardening, natural area stewardship, plant health care, integrated pest management and public education. Staff and student leaders for this team may partner faculty, staff, and student groups on student engagement in landscape sustainability practices. Focus areas include native plant and naturalistic gardening, sustainable horticulture, and habitat horticulture.

What does a Sustainable Landscape Team co-leader do?

The student co-leaders will lead a team of students to:

  • Design and develop future sustainable landscape/garden spaces/natural areas
  • Create sustainable garden/natural area/habitat garden (such as the creation of pollinator houses and bee and insect hotels) enhancements and evaluate their effectiveness
  • Maintain existing and future sustainable landscapes
  • Create interpretation and education about sustainable landscapes
  • Habitat garden enhancements
  • Collaborate with Sustainable Cornell, faculty, and campus groups on sustainable landscape projects
  • Coordinate “work bees” or group work efforts with service groups interested in volunteering to maintain sustainable landscapes
  • Gain familiarity with conservation and stewardship techniques in natural areas and sustainable landscapes

Duties and Responsibilities

  • Collaborate with the fellow student co-leader and staff mentor on projects.
  • Recruit, manage, coordinate, and motivate a team of 4-5 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 enrolled Cornell University undergraduate student; all majors are invited to apply
  • Strong leadership and teamwork skills, ability to adapt in small, dynamic teams
  • Good communication, writing, organizational, and public speaking skills
  • Good interpersonal skills and ability to manage conflict
  • Critical thinking, planning, and problem-solving skills
  • Experience with or interest in sustainability, sustainable landscapes, horticulture, native plants, habitat horticulture, conservation helpful, but not required

For more information: contact Krissy Boys,

Apply by March 5, 2023

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