Gardens Internships

Conservation in the Field - Betty Ford Alpine Gardens

Summer Garden 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.

All 2024 Internships are filled. New applications open in the Fall!

There are four internship positions available in the summer. All internships are paid a $500/week stipend, and shared housing is provided by the Gardens in Vail. Please see each internship description below for more details and application instructions.

Internships are generously endowed by the Frechette Family Foundation.

Conservation Internship


Conservation Internship at Betty Ford Alpine Gardens, Summer 2024

Supervisor: Emily Griffoul, Conservation Scientist

Betty Ford Alpine Gardens is uniquely positioned to address conservation of the fragile alpine environment. The Gardens is spearheading the implementation of 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 2024 field season. Work will include extensive time in the alpine areas of Colorado collecting and documenting alpine plants and managing data and collections on-site at the Gardens. Occasionally, the team will travel overnight and/or camp, including in the backcountry. 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 be comfortable working outside in tough conditions.


  • 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
  • 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
  • Participate in garden events, workshops and educational outreach seminars
  • Occasionally provide garden visitors with information
  • Post social media updates and blog posts relating to conservation
  • Help with projects and duties as staff needs


  • Recently graduated from college with a focus on environmental science, ecology, plant science, and/or conservation
  • Ability and experience using a dichotomous key
  • Practical previous experience in an ecological field setting
  • Valid driver’s license and access to vehicle
  • 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 (4+ a week), office, and lab settings, and occasionally overnight camping trips in 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
  • 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:

  • $500/ week stipend, plus shared housing provided in Vail
  • Internships start June 2024, and end late September 2024
  • Internship promotes studying and understanding alpine plants, mountain ecosystems, and the inner workings of a small nonprofit botanic gardens

Horticulture Internship

This position has been filled. Please check back in Fall 2024 for the 2025 application call.
Supervisor: Colin Lee, Senior Horticulturist

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:

  • $500/week stipend plus shared housing in Vail
  • Internships start in May or June of 2024 and are 3 months long.
  • 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,
  • Practical previous experience in horticulture required.
  • Current enrollment, degree in horticulture or candidates looking to continue and practice their horticulture skills and 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.

To apply to the horticultural internship, please send resume, cover letter and three references to our Senior Horticulturist, Colin Lee, at

Education Internship

This position has been filled. Please check back in Fall 2024 for the 2025 application call.
Supervisor: Nanette Kuich, Education Director

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.


Advance your educational and environmental interpretation skills in an informal public garden setting located and specializing in Rocky Mountains ecosystems. The internship is a three-month, full-time position, beginning mid-May through August, with one weekend day required. You will develop and implement new educational and interpretive programming for all ages and 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:

  • A stipend of $500 per week
  • Housing provided close to the Gardens

To apply for the Informal Education Internship, please forward a cover letter and resume by email or mail to:

Nanette Kuich, Education Director

Betty Ford Alpine Gardens

522 South Frontage Road East

Vail, CO 81657

High School Internships

Betty Ford Alpine Gardens offers internship opportunities through Eagle County Schools CareerX Program and Eagle Valley Outdoor Movement. Interns will experience all aspects of how a small botanical garden operates. Of the 8-10 days, time will be spent in the Gardens, Education Center, events and visitor relations. Orientation and training as required will be provided. The internships are offered year-round with a flexible amount of days and times. Interns receive school credit for participation.


For more information, contact your school’s CareerX or EVOM representative, visit their websites or contact us at or call (970)476-0103 x 3.

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