Colin Lee – Curatorial Intern 2016

When I look back at my Betty Ford Alpine Gardens Internship I can’t help but think of all the amazing opportunities I was given as an intern both inside and outside of the gardens. While in the gardens, I was subject to learning and working with plants every day in all different areas of the gardens. This included daily interactions with staff, volunteers and guests alike, which in turn allowed me as an intern to further my interpersonal communication, botanical and horticultural skills. While working every day at Betty Ford Alpine Gardens I was provided with an amazing space to exercise my college learning and acquired colligate botanical and horticultural skills within the work space and gardens. Opportunities that were grated to me outside of the gardens by the gardens were equally educational and provided me with a summer to stand among the best summers in my live. Opportunities outside the garden included hiking and seed collecting with Nick and Nicola in the surrounding areas of Vail, CO and the Eagle country area. Seed collecting provided me with in field knowledge and skills to ID plants, properly collect and label seed and get involved in the Seeds of Success Program as well as collected seeds for the BLM to help created a seed bank to restore the habitat of the Greater Sage Grouse. I was also subject to collecting live specimens of plants and soil samples on these hikes which gave me an opportunity to put my collegiate knowledge and skills into action in the field. While the gardens provided an opportunity for me to grow as a student and a horticulturist I am very happy to say my summer also included a social opportunity for me to grow aswell by living with two other interns for summer, exploring Vail and surrounding areas on solo adventures and with Nick, who knows almost everyone in the Vail Valley. Through this met many people throughout the summer and got to have a lot of fun with them. Out of work opportunities that will stand out in my mind include attending the GoPro games with Nick, hiking water falls within Vail, enjoying the Vail downtown scene, free concerts at the gardens and the neighboring amphitheater, farmers markets and music and sporting festivals. When I look back on my summer in Vail, I keep realizing the amazing amount of opportunities presented to me by Vail and the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens and am so glad I accepted the internship at BFAG and decided to step out of my comfort zone and routine life and take part in a summer that will influence the rest of my life in a positive fashion. I miss Vail all the time and luckily living in Colorado I can go back at some point, but if given this opportunity to come to Vail and BFAG I say seize it and make the most out of it and give it your all, for it is truly the opportunity of a life time.


Rachel Holland – Horticulture Intern 2016

I had an incredible summer as an intern at the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens. This experience was once in a lifetime, not only do you have the privilege to work in the beautiful Gore Range. But you are given the amazing opportunity tolive in Vail, Colorado and explore the area. During my time as an intern at the gardens, I learned so many new species of alpine plants. I had never been to Colorado before and the plants were completely unknown to me. Nick was continuously answering my questions and helped me learn so much about this new environment. My favorite part about the internship was going into the field and collecting specimens and seeds for the Bureau of Land Management. It was so cool to do real life field work and contribute to conservation by collecting the seeds of these alpine plants.

When I first came to Vail, I was really nervous to be away from home and to be in a place where I knew nobody. By the end of the summer, I was dreading going home because I did not want to leave such an amazing place with so many great people. Although I was sad to leave Vail, I am now determined to move back out there to continue to explore the great state of Colorado. My internship at the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens not only gave me experience, it gave me a new view on life. This internship opened my eyes to the amazing things life has to offer me. I hope that the next interns use this opportunity to not only learn about alpine plants and conservation, but also use it as a learning opportunity for life.



Allyson Ayalon – Curatorial Intern 2015

I came to work as the curatorial intern at Betty Ford Alpine Gardens to learn about managing plant records for living collections and to assist with

plant display labels, a summer job that was a perfect compliment to my Master’s study in public horticulture. Little did I is levitra safe realize I was in for so much viagra sans ordonnance more than just curatorial duties: working with volunteers, assisting with events and, most notably, helping to implement an amazing new education center and surrounding gardens. I lived with the fellow interns, which naturally led to many outdoor adventures together such DSCN2606as rock climbing, hiking, camping, bicycle rides (most memorably up to Vail Pass!), dancing at local music shows—each experience guaranteed to be accompanied by my most favorite past time of botanizing. The Rockies are an amazing place for a plant lover, be it the alpine wildflower display at incredible altitudes of 13,000 feet, the alpine crevice garden at work, or the color change of the quaking aspens as the summer comes to an end. Since returning to California to finish my Master’s degree this fall, I was immediately offered a part-time job at my local arboretum, offering no doubt that my experience has contributed positively to my personal growth. I am

ever grateful for Nick and the staff at the alpine gardens for giving me such well-rounded, practical experience at a truly unique botanic garden. Now if

only I could grow those adorable cushion plants back down at 50 feet above see level; but of course, some things are best left at 8,200 feet.


Jodie Kirschner – Garden Intern 2015

I am very thankful for my summer internship opportunity at The Alpine Gardens. Every day was a new experience with something new to learn. With such a small staff,  interns play a major roll in maintaining the gardens, which naturally are hard to keep up with. This along with the building of the Education Center kept everyone extremely busy. The demand for hard work kept me excited to contribute because everyone’s work truly made cialis generique a difference in the end.


I started the summer with minimal knowledge about plants, let alone alpine plants. Nick, along with the other interns, were always excited to share their knowledge to help me learn about the plants and environment around me. Nick led us on several day hikes around the valley to identify

beautiful alpine plants. These hikes were great opportunities to connect what I was learning every day at the gardens to the natural environment I had always enjoyed.

Not only did I learn about what it takes to maintain the gardens, I learned a great deal about what it takes to develop a building. From constructing rock walls, to plant layout, to installing a green roof, to fixing leaks and cracks, Nick really had a lot to manage. The Education Center provided the interns and myself with a unique opportunity at Betty Ford. This project added even more variety to the kinds of tasks I would be exposed to this summer. In the end, I was so excited to be a part of a dream and goal come true for the Betty Ford Alpine Garden staff and community. I cannot thank the friendly staff enough for providing me with this opportunity to learn and grow as a gardener and as a person.


Marie Rist – Education Intern 2015

DSCN2535This summer I began to experience the true atmosphere of living in the mountains in Vail, CO. Working at the gardens was an amazing experience. Being a part of the new Education Center made all the hard work pay off at the end of the summer. I met some lifelong friends, learned a lot about all aspects of a garden, and found myself smiling frequently from all the experiences I had throughout it. I definitely took ad
vantage of the busy town and all it has to offer with concerts, local events, and the delicious food in the valley! Leaving the mountains was

difficult but I had a beautiful summer

with the staff, volunteers, and interns that I will never forget.


Sam Gilvarg – Horticulture Intern 2015

There are not too many opportunities out there that would let me build on my dual interests in Horticulture and Plant Ecology, but I was lucky to find one at Betty Ford Alpine Gardens. My experience working as the Horticultural Intern at BFAG has opened my eyes to a whole world of Alpine plants and their ecology that I had previously only been able to experience through

the pages of a book. From working with the Bureau of Land management to actively preserve Colorado’s Alpine natural heritage to learning how to cultivate and grow spectacular montane plants in the Gardens themselves, my experience at BFAG allowed me to fully immerse myself in all things Alpine while developing friendships and memories that will last a lifetime.


Being the Horticultural Intern at BFAG was truly the experience of a lifetime. It’s hard to pick out a favorite moment from my time in Vail. For one, I was honored to be involved with the construction of our beautiful education center this summer. The opportunity to help create something that will have such a lasting impact on the community is something that I will be forever grateful for. Botanizing across

the beautiful landscape of Hoosier Pass and Dyer Amphitheater is also something theat will remain with me forever. I highly encourage anyone with an interest in Botany or Horticulture to check out this amazing opportunity. There is simply no limit to what you can get out of it.


Jessica Wong, Curatorial Intern 2014

For anyone interested in plant records, working at BFAG for a summer is a great experience! If you’ve had previous experience with BG-Base, you will get the chance to test your skills and brainstorm ways of improving the garden’s collection management. If you’ve never used BG-Base before, it is still a great place to learn the basics of the database and get familiar with some really cool plants. The garden is beautiful and if you don’t know anything about alpines (or even if you do), it’s one of the best places to learn about them. What’s also nice about a small garden is that often it’s all hands on deck so you get to do more than just plant records and no day is ever quite the same as another.

This was the first year BFAG had an internship for plant records and it was a really exciting time to be a part of the garden with so many projects in the works and the 2014 APGA conference. There’s a lot to be done in the next few years with maintaining BG-Base and eventually getting the garden mapped. My main focus this summer was inventorying the entire garden, updating the accession records, and ordering new display labels. The garden hadn’t been fully inventoried for several years so it was definitely a challenge figuring out what was still alive and what was certainly gone. But I think some of the fun of plant records is plant ID and doing inventory is one of the best ways of learning to recognize new plants.

– Jessica Wong, Curatorial Intern 2014IMG_2509[1]


Madra Choromanska, Education Intern 2014


My summer internship has allowed me to grow, learn about the plant world, and better explore my surroundings. As the education intern I showed and talked with children about many things, from how a seed develops to how they liked to mix watercolors to what herbs grow in the garden (and were their favorite to taste!). Interacting with visitors of all ages in the gardens reminded me how powerful an individual’s sense of curiosity can be and that there is always something fascinating to learn about plants. The alpine gardens is quite the appropriate place to cultivate and entertain these two aspects. I was also able to suggest and successfully implement some of my own ideas for educational initiatives. The independence of this position helped me better develop my own sense of what is important when showing and teaching individuals about new ideas.

But since Betty Ford is a small botanic garden and there is an endless amount of things to take care of, the educational programming was just about half of what my internship entailed. When I wasn’t in the Children’s Garden, I gained an immense amount of knowledge and experience from helping Nick and the horticulture intern, Montana, carry out daily tasks. Yet I could never expect one day to be like the last, as I did everything from harvesting kohlrabi to drilling and then planting in rock to unpacking dozens of plants to creating flower arrangements to collecting seed pods at 12,000 feet in Leadville.

Yet my summer wasn’t all about the gardens, and simply being in the mountains, in Vail, was fantastic and very refreshing. Every morning I would wake up to look out my window and see the sun rising above the Gore Range, a view that can almost be seen from anywhere in town. At first the town can be a bit intimidating, but once you spend half of your weekend hiking in awe of how grand rocks can be and eat enough local ice cream scoops it’s too easy to fall in love. The abundance of laughter, relentlessly breathtaking views, and infinite ability to adventure outside makes up for what at first may feel like a sense of solitude, but soon feels just right.

– Madra Choromanska, Education Intern 2014


Montana Williams, Horticulture Intern 2014

2014 interns

If you’re looking for a way to really immerse yourself in the field of public horticulture and live in one of the most beautiful places on earth, this internship is for you! During my time in Vail I was able to expand and define my skillset in general garden maintenance (planting, watering, pruning etc.), volunteer management, visitor services, seed collection, and plant records- working alongside our plant records intern to record species inventory and phenology data.  Though technically I was considered the “Horticulture Intern” the other interns playfully referred to me as the bosses “Right Hand Man,” a title I was honored to have.

Betty Ford Alpine Gardens is unique not only in its location and plant collection but also in its size. It is a very small garden, approximately 4 acres of cultivated space, but still requires a great deal of attention. As such our Senior Horticulturist, Nick Courtens, really relied on my fellow interns and I to go beyond our assigned responsibilities in order to make the entire operation run smoothly and provide guests with an unforgettable experience.  If you’re looking for a chance to see what it takes to run a public garden for the summer and form important bonds with peers you’ll have for a lifetime I highly suggest the BFAG Horticulture Summer Internship!

-Montana Williams (Horticulture Intern 2014)

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