Public Garden Management Internship Program

This program at Rutgers Gardens provides the student with a firm understanding of how a public garden or park serves the community, while also providing both basic and advanced techniques in horticulture.  The 14-week paid internship allows the student to experience hands-on learning at a public garden, and the summer’s experience is reinforced with a 3-credit course on Public Garden Management and with numerous trips to public gardens/parks throughout the NY and Philadelphia area. The Internship Program in Public Garden Management is available for up to 12 Students. Applicants who are interested may also apply for the Plant Breeding option, which includes more specialized plant focus.

The Public Garden Management students will intern at Rutgers Gardens 5 days a week, with occasional weekend rotations.  In addition to various field trips to public and private gardens, the internship will include:

  • Zone Gardening – Interns will assist in the managing of the various garden collections, which will include the installation of public displays of annuals, perennials and woody shrubs in association with the staff and volunteers.  Helps to establish Teamwork and Leadership skills.
  • Shrub and Tree Care – Evaluate how the different pruning techniques effect the growth of the plant as well as how the plants respond to the wounding.  Discussions will include considerations about the proper tools required, including the basic techniques and safety considerations for chainsaw and chipper operation.
  • Basics of Turf Care – Covering the basics of proper lawn maintenance, including equipment maintenance and operation.
  • Basic Care of Perennials, Annuals, Vegetables and Ornamental Grasses – Layout, planting and care of the annual display garden, which is a major attraction of the Gardens.  In addition, the various other mixed borders and displays will be maintained.  Focus is upon the culture, identification, design considerations and pest issues of these various ornamental plants..
  • Woodland Maintenance – Rutgers Gardens includes a 70 acre woodland area, named Helyar Woods.  The care of the woodland and the removal of various invasive plants is an ongoing process and is an active part of the internship.
  • Public Garden Management (11:550:240 ) – A required part of the internship program, this 3 credit course provides not only a more intensive educational element, reinforcing what is learned from working at Rutgers Gardens, but also insights into professional development in the form of resume writing, interview strategies and proper etiquette skills needed in managing a public garden.


pruning succulent garden
Evergreen Pruning Techniques
Maintenance of the Succulent Garden

Goals for the summer

    • Overview of the Management of Public Gardens  
    • A basic understanding of Horticulture, Garden Design and Management as it applies to Public Gardens and Parks
    • Professional networking with Public Gardens and Parks in NY, NJ and PA.
    • Opportunities to interact and network with various members of the Green Industry throughout NJ.
    • Exposure to Public Garden programming, including children and volunteer programs.
    • Time management (completing a task in an efficient, cost effective manner).  An important expectation for subsequent review by parks, public gardens and other fields within the green industry.

Second Year Option
During the following summer, the students have an option of applying for an internship experience at a Public Garden or park outside of Rutgers Gardens.  During the first summer, the students will have been exposed to or visited many of the Parks and Public Gardens that are available for internship including Central Park. The goal is to expose students to the complexities of issues facing a Public Park or Gardens and how these public facilities manage these issues in order to meet the goals of their mission statement.


2015 Internship Application (download the PDF file to your computer, fill in the requested fields, save and email to Clayton Leadbetter. For more information please contact Clayton at 732-932-8451.

The internship will start Monday, May 18, 2015 and end Friday, August 21, 2015
Completed applications must be received February 6, 2015.
Selected applicants will be contacted for interviews to take place in March.                                   
Selected applicants must provide a copy for our records of a social security card and photo ID.