An internship experience is essential in today’s job market. Our internship opportunities are planned to enrich participants’ work skills and understanding of the many integrated programs supporting a successful public garden and a horticultural therapy operation. Internships promote a better understanding of the relationships between plants, people and places through programs that integrate science, art, human health and well-being. Interns at Wilmot Botanical Gardens will advance their knowledge through mentored practical hands-on experiences. Internships are open to individuals 18 years of age and over. Students studying horticulture, landscape architecture, botany, forestry, horticultural therapy, plant science, public gardens, life sciences, and health sciences or other related programs are encouraged to apply.
Wilmot Botanical Gardens
Our mission is to preserve and enhance the gardens’ history as a healing garden and living laboratory dedicated to improving its visitors’ quality of life through plant interactions, education and research. The gardens are open daily to the public year-round and boasts one of the largest collections of camellias located on a major college campus. In July 2020, this collection was recognized by the addition of the Wilmot Botanical Gardens to the American Camellia Trail program sponsored by the American Camellia Society. This program, which spans the Atlantic, Gulf and Pacific regions of the United States, recognizes and promotes public camellia gardens.
Wilmot Botanical Gardens is situated in the heart of the Southeast’s largest academic health center, providing a peaceful and verdant respite for patients, faculty, staff, students, and the public. The gardens are dedicated to advancing patient care, research and service through its vibrant and growing therapeutic horticulture program.
Wilmot Botanical Gardens is closely aligned with the Department of Environmental Horticulture in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at the University of Florida. Wilmot Botanical Gardens reports directly to the dean’s office in the College of Medicine for administrative and fiscal affairs.
Internships may be paid or unpaid, depending on the availability of funds. Internships at Wilmot Botanical Gardens are designed to promote academic, career and personal development through structured and supervised experiences.
- Horticulture General. Horticulture interns are responsible for the care of trees, shrubs, vines, perennials, annuals, and other plants in the gardens, maintenance of landscapes and hardscapes, and the use and maintenance of equipment and tools needed in horticulture. They also oversee hand-watering and monitor the irrigation of all plantings. Interns will also learn other horticultural skills, including pruning, plant propagation, mulching, plant nutrient requirements, and insect and weed control through integrated pest management. Interns will rotate throughout the gardens working in each of the individual plant collections that include several specialty gardens: The Bromeliad Garden, Chapman Healing Garden, Gordy Camellia Garden, Hippocratic Garden, Japanese Maple Tree Garden, Lifestyle Garden, and the Mendenhall Family Camellia Walk. Time will also be spent in the therapeutic horticulture greenhouse and lobby.
- Horticultural Therapy General. Horticultural therapy interns will develop a working knowledge of horticultural therapy, understand how horticultural therapy is both similar and different from other widely practiced non-pharmacological therapeutic modalities, observe and understand the social, psychological and physiological aspects of disabilities, the medical challenges of participants, develop skills in making assessments of client needs, goals and interests, and use assessments to develop treatment plans and selection of appropriate activities and evaluation outcomes. Horticultural therapy interns will gain knowledge and experience in two or more areas listed below. Please note: To be eligible for the horticultural therapy internship, you must have completed PLS 3080 and PLS 4081 at the University of Florida or nine (9) credit hours of horticultural therapy coursework at another university or AHTA approved program.
- Techniques. Interns will gain skills for effective communication and interpersonal skills with clients and staff. Opportunities will be available to develop individual and group programs, develop basic horticultural skills and utilize plant materials and methods to facilitate horticultural therapy programming.
- Program Management. Interns will gain knowledge of administrative requirements affecting the functioning of an organization or department supporting a horticultural therapy program. This internship program will include work experiences and developing the skills outlined in the Horticulture Therapy general requirements.
- Plant Management. Interns will learn and practice basic skills and techniques needed to grow and maintain plants used in therapeutic programming. This will include plant propagation, plant maintenance, greenhouse maintenance, raised bed maintenance, and other activities related to ensuring the health and availability of plants and plant materials for the therapeutic horticulture program.
Greenhouse Operations. Interns specializing in greenhouse operations will learn how to manage plant inventories used in the therapeutic horticulture programs and plant sale fund-raising events, forecast demand to determine plant populations, plant species and crops to be grown according to the time of year, provide supervision for greenhouse workers, recognize the different diseases of plants, understand basic phytosanitary practices, control of insect pests, follow recommendations on fertilizer use and potting mediums, manage greenhouse equipment and computer controls, understand and ensure that operations comply with all environmental regulations and worker safety laws.
Public Gardens Operations. Interns will gain day-to-day work skills and knowledge of the horticultural, social and intellectual skills needed to manage a public garden’s financial, physical and human resources. Interns will work with the garden’s staff to plant, water, weed, prune, mulch, and perform other daily maintenance activities. Furthermore, interns will work closely with the Director of Wilmot Botanical Gardens, the Administrative Specialist and Business Manager, and the Director of Therapeutic Horticulture on matters of budgeting, fund-raising to include plant sales and grant preparation, volunteer recruitment and supervision, planning, garden enhancements, greenhouse operations and maintenance, client programs, and day to day problem-solving.
The Horticultural Therapy Internship Program at Wilmot Botanical Gardens is supervised by an HTM registered Horticultural Therapist.
Horticultural therapy interns intent on earning an HTR or HTM professional registration from the American Horticultural Therapy Association should consult the Horticultural Therapy Internship Handbook and understand the requirements and documentation necessary to qualify for registration.
Internship Goals and Planning
At the start of each internship, the supervisor and intern will create a list of learning goals the intern hopes to complete. The learning goals will serve as an academic and professional roadmap for the intern’s semester/time with the organization. This action helps identify the intern’s learning objectives, goals and how they will be accomplished during the internship. It will also provide a basis for a final evaluation of the intern’s experience, satisfaction, goals and their recommendations on improving the internship program.
Applicants should be at least 18 years of age at the time of application and possess strong interests in horticulture, horticultural therapy or public gardens. Applicants must be reliable with a strong commitment to learning and hard work. Experience or academic training in the plant sciences is desirable but not required. Health insurance is required. Internship durations can vary based on your personal situation from three months to one semester, or 480 hours. Interns may arrange for academic credit through their college or university.
Internship applications are accepted on a rolling basis with flexible start dates that can align with academic calendars and the availability of internship positions at the Gardens. Wilmot Botanical Gardens accepts applications from individuals with a passion for plants, gardens and the therapeutic use of plants. Students studying horticulture, landscape architecture, plant sciences, therapeutic horticulture or other related fields may be able to receive internship credits toward their graduation requirements.
A complete internship application includes:
- Submission of an online application (click here to access application form).
- Evidence of coursework, work experience or interest in horticulture, horticultural therapy, public gardens, botany, or plant science.
- Applicant’s desired internship start and end dates and whether the applicant will be enrolled in an internship course for credit towards graduation requirements.
- Two letters of recommendation.
- Short essay (max 500 words) describing the background of the candidate, interest in the field and overall career goals.
Qualified candidates will be invited for an in-person or video-conference interview with the Wilmot Botanical Gardens staff.
A complete application should be sent to Dr. Craig Tisher at firstname.lastname@example.org, or via regular mail to 2023 Mowry Road, Gainesville, FL 32610.