Learning by Leading Program
Leadership skills and real-world experience combine to help our students address the earth’s most important environmental issues
Our internships are based on the fundamental premise that students learn best by leading. The UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden provides an ideal training ground to learn real-world skills and lead efforts to create a healthier environment and a more sustainable world. Our professional staff work closely with over 50 UC Davis undergraduate and graduate student interns per year in all areas of our public gardens operations. Many of our interns then go on to leadership positions where they are addressing urgent environmental issues in conservation science, research, biological monitoring, natural areas management, public garden management, sustainable design, nursery management, outdoor education, conservation science, and more in California and throughout the United States.
Some Arboretum internships require participation in a training and orientation program and a school year-long commitment (three quarters); others can be joined in different quarters throughout the year. The Arboretum staff often work closely with academic units on campus to ensure that students have a faculty sponsor and receive units for their work with the UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden. While the majority of interns receive credit; we do offer some paid student positions each year.
This team of students engages family audiences and the wider community in themed events that they create with other environmental clubs and partners on campus. Ambassadors gain skills in informal education techniques, environmental leadership, event support, public outreach, volunteer coordination, and museum and non-profit management. Interns also work closely with Arboretum career and student staff to support existing programs and initiatives in our family nature program, arts program, plant sales, fundraising events and community gardening volunteer days. LEARN MORE
Interns will learn best management practices and the current science of restoring and managing natural systems as well as low water-use “sustainable” landscapes using the principles of adaptive management. Across the campus, interns will explore land management through the seasons and gain hands-on skills in planning, design, habitat restoration, biology, plant science, wildlife management, stewardship, erosion control, and maintenance. Students may also acquire technical skills in construction, irrigation, pruning, and use of heavy equipment such as tractors, all-terrain vehicles, and mowers. LEARN MORE
In this program, interns learn a variety of horticultural, project management, and outreach skills as they maintain community-based edible garden projects on campus.Weekly meetings and workshops are aimed at providing training and hands-on experience in ecological horticulture and leadership development. Training will include topics such as composting, propagation, planting & transplanting, garden design, strengths development, and community outreach. Interns will also be responsible for independently managing a portion of their time each week developing and implementing design recommendations and outreach events for their particular project sites. LEARN MORE
GATEways Outreach interns work closely with Arboretum Staff to support large-scale events such as the Arboretum Plant Sales, and develop their own interactive events for the public. Interns also collaborate with UC Davis partners to create experiences that promote the arts, science and other fields of study. Interns will also have the ability to enhance their leadership capacity by taking on different leadership roles within each event. LEARN MORE
Museum Education interns research and create interactive, interdisciplinary learning experiences in the Arboretum and Public Garden. Focused on making the Arboretum accessible to visitors of all ages, students collaborate with campus and community partners to create educational signage, pop-up exhibits, and programs highlighting key stories from the Arboretum’s collection. Students gain skills in visitor studies, informal education, and communications while developing a greater understanding of museum and nonprofit management.
Work with professional Arboretum nursery and plant sales staff to gain hands-on experience working in a nursery. Interns will learn methods for propagating a great variety of plants, many of which are unusual in cultivation. Interns are encouraged to choose the plants they work with and will gain experience in a range of nursery tasks, including irrigation, pruning, repotting, and IPM (Integrated Pest Management)/pest control. Interns will also participate in Arboretum plant sales offered on the weekends in order to gain experience with nursery events. LEARN MORE
GATEways Outreach interns work with a team of community volunteers to develop educational programs for youth, families, and underserved populations. Focused on sharing the riches of the thematic gardens throughout the Arboretum, interns offer weekend “Drop-In Days” to help engage public audiences in sustainability principles. The students also conduct activities at community and campus events, such as local science fairs and Picnic Day. LEARN MORE
Transform high-water-use lawns and other campus landscapes to sustainable, pollinator-friendly landscapes. Hands-on training includes irrigation design and installation, planting design, plant selection and installation, and long-term maintenance. Students will also be responsible for leading an independent project. LEARN MORE
The Waterway Stewardship team collaborate with the Waterway Steward and other staff of the UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden to maintain and enhance the Arboretum waterway. Regular tasks include removing trash and invasive weeds from the Arboretum Waterway and local watershed, monitoring wildlife and water quality assisting with habitat planting design, installing and maintaining irrigation, and supporting researchers and education on and about the waterway. LEARN MORE
Students in this program can graduate with . . .
- Central Valley gardening, drought-tolerant landscaping, habitat restoration and California native plant cultivation experience.
- Knowledge of horticultural best practices, plant propagation, landscaping, education, and community outreach experience.
- Highly-transferable leadership, team-building, and 21st century professional skills.
- Strong mentor relationships with staff experts and earn recommendations to support future endeavors.
- Knowledge organizing events that engage volunteers, visitors and other community members.
- A new network of students engaged in improving our campus outdoor spaces and positively impacting our planet’s environment.
Environmental Science and ManagementApril 11, 2017
Environmental Horticulture and Urban ForestryDecember 16, 2016
Environmental Horticulture and Urban ForestryDecember 16, 2016
Environmental Science and ManagementDecember 6, 2016
Sustainable Agriculture and Food SystemsDecember 6, 2016
Landscape Architecture + Environmental DesignAugust 7, 2015
Sustainable Agriculture and Food SystemsJune 20, 2015
Environmental Science and ManagementJune 20, 2015