Gardens Internships

Located at 8,200′ in the central Rocky Mountains, Betty Ford Alpine Gardens internship program provides the next generation of horticulturists, conservation scientists, and educators the opportunity to build their professional skills through hands-on learning and unique experiences supported by our garden staff and community. Each internship is an opportunity for those interested in public gardens to put their skills into practice. Join us for a Summer internship opportunity like no other and learn about mountain ecosystems, alpine plants, and how a public non-profit botanic garden operates.

Summer 2021 Internships are currently filled, but please check back in November to apply for Summer 2022 Internships!

Horticulture Internships

(2) Horticultural Internship Positions Available for the 2021 Summer Season.

Horticulture Internship Responsibilities, Duties and Learning Opportunities:

  • Working alongside the horticultural staff and volunteers
  • Leading volunteer group gardening
  • Plant and maintain a variety of themed and styled garden beds that contain both woody and herbaceous plants
  • Bed maintenance includes tasks such as deadheading, weeding, cultivating, mulching, rock work, soil amending, transplanting, dividing, hand watering, raking, hauling compost, plant staking, fertilizer application and other tasks
  • Help operate and provide routine maintenance to the garden’s irrigation system
  • Assist with garden events set-up and take down
  • Assist with Education Center maintenance and clean up tasks
  • Participate in garden events, workshops and educational outreach seminars
  • ID plants both in and out of the garden settings
  • Understanding of Colorado mountain ecosystems, and their native plants
  • Pressing plants for herbarium voucher specimens
  • Provide and lead educational public tours of the gardens
  • Operating a golf cart within in a crowded public park
  • Provide garden visitors with information and support
  • Assist with labeling plants during their flowering period
  • Refilling and stocking kiosks with necessary brochures
  • Assisting in garden data input into BG-Base, a digital plant record keeping system
  • Assist in accessioning plantings
  • Assist garden staff on research and conservation projects
  • Assist on large garden projects such as design and renovation of existing garden areas
  • Help with projects and duties as staff needs
  • Ability to work weekend shifts as needed

Internship Details:

  • 3 Month paid internship at $12.32/hr.
  • 40 hr+ a week
  • Subsidized housing provided by garden
  • Internships start in May or June of 2021
  • Internship promotes studying and understanding alpine plants, mountain ecosystems, plant care, garden design and the inner workings of a small nonprofit botanic garden
  • Internships designed to promote rock gardening and the use of perennials plants in garden settings
  • Internships help the intern to learn and identify a variety of alpine plants, perennials, shrubs, and trees that can thrive and are native to in a Colorado mountain environment


Required Education and Experience:

The right candidate will have a passion for horticulture, public gardens, is self-motivated, a team player, a diligent worker and wishes to develop leadership skills.

  • Practical previous experience in horticulture required.
  • Current enrollment, degree in horticulture or candidates looking to continue and practice their horticulture education further.
  • Passion for plants and gardening with a focus on public horticulture
  • Candidate will demonstrate a commitment to working in the field of horticulture.
  • Attention to detail and organization.
  • The ability to use a dichotomous key.
  • Understanding of plant taxonomy, anatomy and morphological terms.
  • Understanding of the categorization of plant families.
  • Ability to work outside in variable weather conditions (rain, snow, sun UV, heat).
  • Able to lift 50 lbs. or more.
  • Works well in a team setting and communicates efficiently and effectively.
Education Internship

Job Description

Betty Ford Alpine Gardens is located on the roof of the Rockies in Vail, Colorado, with a mission to deepen understanding and promote conservation of alpine plants and fragile mountain environments.

As an Education Intern you will be a member of the Gardens staff, developing and delivering educational programs and activities focused on the alpine ecosystem for adults, families and children.


You will advance your educational and environmental interpretation skills in an informal public garden setting located and specializing in Rocky Mountains ecosystems. Specifically, the position is a three-month, full-time position, beginning mid-May through August, for 40 hours per week with one weekend day required. You will be asked to develop and implement new educational and interpretive programming for all ages and to assist education center and horticultural staff with all visitor and education related projects.

Applicant Requirements:

  • Current enrollment or degree in Education, Environmental Sciences, Botany, Sustainability Studies, or related field
  • Completion of at least one Education course
  • Experience or interest in conducting programs with families, children and adults
  • A “people person” with an ability to interact with visitors of all ages
  • Creative, positive and organized


Housing and Compensation:


  • Housing assistance provided close to the Gardens during the summer months
  • $12.32/hr. for 40 hours per week
Conservation Internship
  •  Conservation Internship Opportunity at Betty Ford Alpine Gardens, Summer 2021

At 8,200 feet on the Roof of the Rockies, Betty Ford Alpine Gardens is uniquely positioned to address conservation of the fragile alpine environment. The Gardens has partnered with Denver Botanic Gardens to author the North American Botanic Garden Strategy for Alpine Plant Conservation to understand and protect this special habitat.

We are looking for a recent college graduate to assist our Conservation Scientist with the summer 2021 field season. Work will include extensive time in the alpine areas of Colorado monitoring and documenting the vegetation and threats to the areas, as well as collecting specimens, and additionally conducting data management tasks relating to our conservation efforts. Occasionally, the team will travel overnight and/or camp. The ideal candidate will be passionate about conservation and alpine ecosystems, be organized, self-motivated, a team player, a diligent worker, and interested in developing leadership skills. S/he will also have experience identifying plants in the field using a dichotomous key and have excellent attention to detail.


  • Identify alpine plants in the field using dichotomous key and build comprehensive species lists for each site
  • Survey alpine plant areas and monitor rare species populations
  • Collect seeds and vouchers of alpine plants
  • Prepare voucher specimens to be sent to herbarium
  • Track phenology of alpine plants in the field
  • Record data, including GPS coordinates, soil type, slope, aspect, vegetation type, associated species, land manager, conservation status and more
  • Keep detailed, organized records of field and lab activities
  • Supervise volunteers both in the field and in the lab
  • Clean and count seed collections
  • Enter and check data both on paper and electronically
  • Label and organize photos from the field
  • Conduct literature searches and prepare well-written reports
  • Participate in garden events, workshops and educational outreach seminars
  • Occasionally provide garden visitors with information
  • Help with projects and duties as staff needs


  • Ability and experience using a dichotomous key
  • Understanding of plant taxonomy, anatomy and morphological terms
  • Understanding of the categorization of plant families
  • Practical previous experience in an ecological field setting
  • Valid driver’s license and access to vehicle
  • Currently enrolled in or recently graduated from college with a focus on ecology, plant science, and/or conservation
  • Passion for conservation and ecological research
  • Works well in a team setting and communicates efficiently and effectively
  • Physical requirements:
    • Ability to hike at elevation in remote areas on steep, difficult terrain in inclement weather (rain, snow, heat, sun, etc)
    • Ability to carry up to 50lbs of equipment
    • Ability to spend full days in the field, office and lab settings, and occasionally overnight camping trips for remote areas

Desired Skills:

  • Ability to work independently and solve problems
  • Experience using Google Workspace and Microsoft Excel
  • Picks up new skills quickly and adapts to new information and situations
  • Understanding of Colorado mountain ecosystems and their native plants
  • Familiar with alpine plant species
  • Basic understanding of conservation topics and rare plant management techniques
  • Excellent attention to detail
  • Organized and self-directed
  • Backcountry hiking and camping experience

Internship Details:

  • 3 month (mid-June to mid-Sept) paid internship at $12.32/hr
  • 40 hrs.+ a week
  • Subsidized housing provided by the Gardens
  • Internships start in early to mid-June and go through mid-September, 2021
  • Internship promotes studying and understanding alpine plants, mountain ecosystems, and the inner workings of a small nonprofit botanic garden

To apply for the Conservation Internship, please email your resume, cover letter, and contact details for three references to our Conservation Scientist, Emily Griffoul at

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