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Summer Internship

Duke University is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer committed to providing employment opportunity without regard to an individual's age, color, disability, gender, gender expression, gender identity, genetic information, national origin, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation or veteran status. Please see Duke Gardens' Diversity & Inclusion Statement here.

2024 deadline: Please note that applications are now closed for 2024 internships.

General Information:

Sarah P. Duke Gardens at Duke University offers a 10-week summer internship program for students interested in gaining a hands-on experience in a public botanic garden. Duke Gardens is a 55-acre display- and education-oriented botanic garden located on the campus of Duke University. Duke Gardens hosts many university and community programs and attracts more than 600,000 visitors annually. 

Program Description: The internship experience will provide an in-depth introduction to various aspects of horticulture. Each of the four interns will work in all areas of Duke Gardens and have a wide range of horticultural experiences and responsibilities. Through gardening work in the four thematic areas, weekly plant ID classes offered by staff, and educational field trips, the internship is designed to provide opportunities to gain knowledge and experience in the vast field of public gardening. As they work directly with Duke Gardens staff members, the interns' daily tasks may include assisting with planting, watering, weeding, pruning, mulching and overall daily garden maintenance.

Interns will gain insight into garden design and careers in public horticulture through visits to botanic gardens and nurseries in North Carolina. We also try to provide a broad exposure to different aspects of the “green industry,” from growing plants to the design and implementation of gardens. 

Housing: On-campus housing is provided at no cost by Duke University as part of this internship, but interns are not mandated to use this option. For more information, please email horticulture director Bobby Mottern.

Qualifications: This internship program is open to both traditional and non-traditional students, including those who are making a career change into the field of horticulture.

To be considered for a horticulture internship, applicants must have successfully completed a basic botany or introduction to horticulture class and at least one plant ID class. Current enrollment not required. Work experience in horticulture, ecology, environmental studies or closely related fields will also be considered.

Applicants must be self-motivated and willing to work both independently and in a team environment.

Requirements: Able to stand, bend, squat, kneel and sit for extended lengths of time; must be able to reach down and overhead. Able to work outdoors in all types of weather with fluctuations in temperature and conditions. Ability to operate hand tools and power equipment safely (training provided). Basic computer skills (knowledge of Windows, Excel, Outlook and Word).

Duke aspires to create a community built on collaboration, innovation, creativity and belonging. Our collective success depends on the robust exchange of ideas, an exchange that is best when the rich diversity of our perspectives, backgrounds and experiences flourishes. To achieve this exchange, it is essential that all members of the community feel secure and welcome, that the contributions of all individuals are respected, and that all voices are heard. All members of our community have a responsibility to uphold these values. 

Please Note: Duke Gardens is currently unable to sponsor applicants not already authorized to work in the United States.

Application deadline: Feb. 9, 2024.  

Dates of internship: May 20 through July 26, 2024.

Work schedule: 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Monday to Friday, with three weekends of watering duty TBD.

Compensation: $17/hr.  College credit may be arranged through your advisor.

To apply:

Please download and fill out our application form (2025 application form will be posted here in December 2024) and mail or email it with your resume and cover letter to the address below.

All complete internship application materials must be received by Duke Gardens by the posted deadline. Interviews and hiring will begin as soon as applications are received. 

Completed application form, cover letter and resume should be sent with “horticultural internship” in the subject line to

Applications can also be mailed to the address below:  
Horticulture Internship Committee
Attn: Bobby Mottern
Sarah P. Duke Gardens 
418 Anderson Street 
Durham, NC 27705