Delainey Williams – Horticulture Intern 2019

Spending the summer at Betty Ford Alpine Gardens was a great learning experience. The Michigan State horticulture program provided me with knowledge and some hands-on experiences but there is nothing like getting to put all of that to practice in a place as beautiful as Vail, Colorado. I have had the dream of working in a botanical garden since my freshmen year of college, and the summer after my junior year it became a reality. As an intern at Betty Ford, I had the unique opportunity to do some of everything because there is such a small horticultural staff. To list a few of my favorites; irrigation repair, seedling transplanting, water feature troubleshooting, assisting in garden area redesign project, seed collecting, trough planting, tree planting, and more. I also had the chance on multiple occasions to work with a Denver Botanic Garden horticulturalist on an herbarium specimen collection project she was a part of, which was an unexpected added bonus for me! Along with those occasional activities, everyday I was putting my plant care, plating, transplanting, and pruning knowledge to use while learning more by asking coworkers questions about things I didn’t know. Coming from across the country, there were plenty of rare alpine plants I had never heard of that I had the opportunity to work with, which also made this experience even more special. Learning how to identify all of the species I had never seen before was a challenge, but it pushed me out of my comfort zone in a good way. Besides all of the garden work working at a botanical garden provided me with the opportunity to converse with and answer questions from garden visitors that come from all over the world. It was a part of the job I was looking forward to because it allowed me to share my love of plants with so many people! This internship also includes several field trips throughout the season, typically group hikes to identify or collect seeds in the wild. I can’t think of a more beautiful place to live and work for the summer than up in the Rockies – and I am so lucky to have been able to have the chance to intern here!



Brittney Marshall – Horticulture Intern 2019

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[et_pb_column type=”4_4″][et_pb_text admin_label=”Text”]My internship with Betty Ford Alpine Gardens was a great introduction to the world of plant conservation. Throughout the summer, I worked with Nicola on North American Botanic Garden Strategy for Alpine Plant Conservation targets, specifically, creating a list of all North American alpine plants. As part of this project, I contacted authors of floras and field guides, National Forest Service botanists, and various land management agencies to gather data on different alpine areas throughout the U.S.A. and Canada. The research involved helped me to understand what organizations are involved with documenting and conserving plants within these areas.

As part of the internship, I also had the opportunity to hike and explore areas within Colorado, both to see plants in their native habitat and collect seeds and herbarium specimens for seed banking and sharing. Working with the team at Betty Ford and often, Denver Botanic Gardens, I learned how experts identify species in the field, collect herbarium specimens, and gather seeds for a variety of uses.

Working in the gardens on a day-to-day basis, I learned additional horticultural skills and how a public garden is maintained. Colin and Nick were great resources when learning about plants I’d never seen before. The collection and the beautiful setting made Betty Ford an amazing place to spend the summer!

– Brittney Marshall



Claire Pirio – Education Intern 2018 & 2019

My summer at Betty Ford Alpine Gardens has been nothing short of incredible. During my first couple of weeks at the Gardens, I would find myself smiling just from how lucky I felt to have landed an internship in such a beautiful setting. As the Education Intern, I got to interact with children and their families in the Children’s Garden to teach them about riparian environments and how to conserve them. However, every day at the gardens presented a new learning opportunity, and I can say with confidence that no two days were the same. As a graduate with a plant science degree, I was very excited to discover that part of my job as the education intern involved working with the horticulturists and volunteers out in the garden. Nick was always willing to take a moment to teach or explain something new to me and Nanette has been a great mentor throughout the summer. I am so thankful that this internship brought me to Vail. I’ve learned a ton, met wonderful people, and I’m very excited to continue my journey at Betty Ford Alpine Gardens.

– Claire Pirio

Eduacational Intern 2018 & 2019




Kate Love – Horticulture Intern 2018

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Working at Betty Ford Alpines Gardens presented a unique opportunity to work with and learn about alpine plants native to Colorado and across the world. Hands-on horticulture experience in the gardens, field trips to alpine areas, and working with a dedicated team of staff and volunteers created a one of a kind internship experience. As someone greatly interested in conservation, learning about and working directly with rare alpine plants in the garden’s collections and in partnership with Denver Botanic Garden’s efforts in the Global Genome Initiative allowed me to gain experience and knowledge in my field of interest. As I move forward into my career and graduate school, I am very appreciative to have been a part of an organization dedicated to understanding and promoting alpine plants and fragile mountain environments.

– Kate Love

2018 Horticulture Intern


Jenna Bachman – Horticulture Intern 2017

Interning at Betty Ford was an amazing opportunity for so many reasons. Living and gardening in a landscape like this was completely new for me, but exploring the landscape and getting to know the native plants and the garden was an incredible learning and growing experience.  As the horticulture intern, I worked in the gardens every day, and was constantly exposed to new plants and different challenges within the garden. I learned so much about alpine plants from working at BFAG but I also learned a lot about gardening in general. The garden feels like a dream to work in, there were so many mornings that I would look around and see the garden in the foreground and the mountains in the background and think of how lucky I was to be there.

The staff at Betty Ford Alpine Gardens also plays a huge role in making the internship so great. Everyone working here is incredibly kind and the overall atmosphere is fun and welcoming. Nick, as the Curator of Plant Collections worked very closely with me, and was always around to help me learn about the plants and answer questions. Throughout my time here I loved getting to know the staff and was so grateful for their openness and helpfulness. Working and living with the education intern and Seasonal was a really fun experience, and getting to know them while enjoying the garden and the surrounding landscape together was one of the best parts of my summer in Vail. Overall, this internship had an enormous positive affect on me and was an experience I will not forget


Elizabeth Hossink – Education Intern 2017

The Betty Ford Alpine Gardens were exactly where I needed to be this past summer. My time in Colorado was marked by beautiful landscapes, personal growth, new friends, and much learning. I was immediately welcomed as part of the staff, and continuously affirmed of my value to the organization. At the same time, I was challenged and encouraged to take initiative on projects and explore my creativity and confidence. I learned a lot about myself and how I work with others, and can now articulate more clearly what I have to bring to the table. 

I began the summer not knowing much about taking care of plants, but very anxious to learn, and because of the guidance of Nick I now feel like I could start my own garden. I learned a lot about identifying many of the alpine and native Colorado plants just by living and working with so many people for whom plants are their passion. 

I enjoyed the flexibility of my position, which allowed that within one day I could weed, prepare crafts for kids, help other staff set up for an event, and interact with families in the garden. There were many great aspects of working in the gardens, but my favorite part of the position was seeing the awe in children’s eyes after I showed them where their vegetables came from, or pointed out the snake napping on a rock or the bumble bee pollinating a flower. The gardens are a powerful tool for connecting people with their environment and reminding them the wonders of our earth, and I am glad I was able to be a part of it

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