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The Natural Areas Internship will focus on learning the tools and techniques used by natural areas managers to conserve and restore natural areas. It will also provide an introduction to methods of assessing the condition of, and changes in vegetation in natural areas. Plant identification is basic to much of this work, and frequent opportunities to improve your skills will be presented.

Cornell Botanic Gardens’ Natural Areas Program manages over 30 Cornell-owned nature preserves both on- and Cornell Botanic Gardens’ Natural Areas Program manages over 30 Cornell-owned nature preserves both on- and off-campus, totaling about 3,600 acres. These natural areas are biologically diverse and include examples of most of the ecological communities or habitats found in the region. Several of the sites are important for the protection of rare species.

The Natural Areas internship will provide you with invaluable experience in hands-on conservation work. As an intern, you will work closely with Natural Areas staff on a variety of stewardship tasks including:

  • plant identification
  • native plant propagation
  • habitat restoration
  • invasive species and control
  • use of GIS and data collection
  • trail maintenance
  • site monitoring
  • special projects

You will also learn assessment, sampling, and analysis techniques that allow natural areas managers to:

  • document vegetation and species population changes over time
  • assess populations of rare or declining species
  • evaluate the effectiveness of invasive species control measures

Also a series of workshops may include field trips or educational activities about the diverse work of a public garden. Your own special project is a possible part of the internship.

Internship Expectations

  • Uphold and carry out Cornell Botanic Gardens’ vision, mission, and values
  • Exhibit strong professional ethics and accountability
  • Lead by example, empower others, and foster teamwork
  • Represent Cornell Botanic Gardens with professionalism and integrity
  • Willingness to work outdoors under a variety of field conditions, including inclement weather
  • Ability and willingness to do repetitive tasks
  • Must be able to lift 50 pounds
  • Willingness to work around and with pesticides
  • Learn to follow proper safety protocols
  • This position is full time (39 hours/week) for the summer (10 weeks)

General Program Information

Our internship program is open to all currently enrolled or accepted Cornell University students. We recognize that an internship is an opportunity to try out a career field. While we encourage applications from those with plant or natural sciences coursework or relevant work experience, we also welcome applications from students that are enthusiastic about the natural world and can articulate their interest in our program.


Provide an educational and work experience for Cornell University students involving hands-on activities that build on classroom learning and represent the full spectrum of work throughout our organization.


We view our interns foremost as learners who offer a valuable fresh perspective. We treat each student as a professional team member. Our staff is committed to the program, offering mentorship, guidance, and appreciation for each intern’s contribution. Our program’s schedule is designed to offer all students exposure to the varied aspects of public garden and natural areas management.

For more information or questions on the general details of the internship program, contact Phil Syphrit at 607-227-5795 or

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Program Elements

Internships include “Learning Mondays,” group work days, and are required to capture their summer experience to share on the last day.

Private: Summer Internship

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