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Interning at Birmingham Botanical Gardens

Around the Gardens Blog

With summer quickly approaching, the Friends of Birmingham Botanical Gardens is accepting applications for their internship programs. Kaul Wildflower Garden Horticulturist Keith Turney gives us some insight on what to expect.


For most plants, the summertime is a period of tremendous growth. Plants of every shape and size take full advantage of the growing season by rising, maturing, and multiplying; securing their existence for the coming years. Likewise, we at the Friends of Birmingham Botanical Gardens regard the summer as a wonderful season of growth and improvement with the help of our summer interns. 

The Friends play host to two different internship opportunities each year. One position focuses more heavily on some of the education and community engagement objectives of the Friends, and the other position centers around the Kaul Wildflower Garden; the BBG’s garden space dedicated entirely to Alabama’s native plants. This year, both interns will have the chance to get their hands dirty with a variety of tasks involved in the upkeep and maintenance of public gardens. However, summer is for more than just maintenance…

CAPTION: Associate Director of Gardens Support Molly Hendry (center) and Kaul Wildflower Garden Horticulturist Kieth Turney (at right) talk with summer interns Truman Douglass and Mandrell McCray about the habitat of mountain mint.

Summer is the time for growth! We are proud of the many immersive and varied experiences that are afforded to our interns. They enjoy everything from growing rare plants from seed to visiting sensitive ecosystems that many of those plants inhabit.

A trip to the Cullowhee Native Plant Conference in North Carolina is always a highlight of the season, where pros from all across the Eastern United States meet to talk business and form connections. Beyond just the places to go and see, our interns are able to build valuable networks with volunteers and professionals in the horticultural field. Both interns have the opportunity to work with various staff members here at the gardens, gaining valuable perspective into the inner workings of non-profit organizations and public horticulture.

Interns are challenged over the course of their 12 weeks to adopt and carry out individual projects unique to their tastes and interests. These projects tend to vary significantly from one another, encompassing anything from researching the propagation of critically endangered fern species to the creation of garden reference maps that depict plantings and infrastructure. Our 2022 Rotary Club of Shades Valley intern Mandrell McCray, showed his appreciation by saying, “Not only was I allowed to explore my own ideas pertaining to the final project, I was also heavily encouraged and supported.” 

 As much as anything, the Friends hope to serve as a springboard for impassioned individuals who are interested in finding career paths in plant-related fields. 

 Truman Douglass, the 2022 Native Plant Intern said, “My experience with the Friends gave me valuable insight into what my ideal work environment would be.” Mandrell McCray shared the sentiment by positing, “Going into an internship not knowing a single person, but finishing with a phone full of contacts of staff and volunteers was better than I could have ever wished for.”

Because of the support of passionate individuals and organizations whose missions align with our own, the Friends is cultivating the next generation of horticulturists, ecologists, plant scientists, and garden lovers. We are especially excited as we take applications for the upcoming 2023 Summer internships. The link to the position description and application are included below. Come and work with the Friends of Birmingham Botanical Gardens!


The Friends of Birmingham Botanical Gardens is excited to offer internship opportunities to college and high school students to expose young people to the possibilities of rewarding careers in public gardens.