Essex County Turtle Back Zoo Horticulture Internship Program
Horticulture, Landscaping, Landscape Architect or Related Environmental Science Internship (Unpaid): Horticulture Department, Rolling Applications for 2023
About Turtle Back Zoo
Essex County Turtle Back Zoo (TBZ) is committed to providing an enriching recreational experience that fosters excellence in wildlife education and wildlife conservation, so that present and future generations are inspired to understand, appreciate, and protect the fragile interdependence of all living things. We do this by adhering to 5 core principles that guide our goals and priorities: safety, animal welfare, communication, inspiration, and collaboration. Our team is passionate, positive, and persistent; we strive each day to protect our planet’s most precious species and the ecosystems they depend on.
Horticulture Internship Summary
The Turtle Back Zoo Internship program is an opportunity for those looking to gain work experience and make important professional connections at a medium-sized, but growing, regional zoo located in northern New Jersey. Horticulture Interns will receive training under the supervision of our Horticulture Curator & Staff in Horticulture, Landscaping, and plant related Environmental Science.
We work in an AZA, ZAA, and Humane Certified accredited facility where our specialty is the field of Ornamental and Zoological Horticulture. Our team maintains and preserves horticultural and botanical facilities using sound zoological horticulture practices. Our goal is to preserve and enhance the Zoo’s assets and ensure quality services for our Animal Teams. Considerable independent judgement must be exercised by the Intern Candidate with direction from the Horticulture Curator. Work is performed under general direction of a Senior Horticulturist and reviewed upon completion.
Preferred Basic Knowledge and Skills (not required)
- Comprehend and follow instructions effectively
- Communicate and work effectively with others, effective customer relations
- Work in a team environment and motivate others
- Deal tactfully and courteously with others
- Knowledge of a variety of plants, plant materials, and growth principles
- Horticultural soil conditions and preparations
- Methods and precautions for applying fertilizers and insecticides
- Working knowledge of tree & shrub maintenance practices
- Proper watering techniques
- Work safety practices
Interns Will Learn How To
- Assist in the production of bedding plants, potted plants, and nursery stock and maintains records on the growing operation
- Assist in the production, harvesting, acquisition, and quality control of Animal Browse material
- Assist in providing and maintaining quality plant, tree, and shrub Animal Exhibit Furniture
- Assist in preparing acquisitions for various types of plants and seeds
- Assist with Summer Camp programming and teaching
- Assist with Horticulture Volunteer projects and supervision
- Assist in supervising the processing of accessioning, deaccessioning, mapping, relocating, and labeling plants in collection areas
- Basic techniques of pruning, wound dressing, cavity repair, and the cabling and bracing of trees and shrubs
- Seasonal Events and Themes – Set up and tear down different seasonal themed decorations and help work on creating seasonal decorations
- Assist in all phases of the Seasonal Butterfly Exhibit
- Assist in ancillary phases of Beekeeping & Apiary Maintenance
- Assist in the preparation of maintenance programs for the control of plant diseases and insects
- Assist in preparing fertilizer programs for various types of plants
- Network with industry related peers through associations, organizations, etc.
Maintain living plant species collections through basic principles that include how to: propagate, cultivate, water, prune, fertilize, mulch, aerate, monitor disease and pests, design, display, and transplant. Learn how to design, display, and document a botanical collection of single species cultivars.
Interns must have
- Ability to lift, carry, push, and pull up to 50 lbs
- Ability to work outdoors in all weather conditions
- Ability to navigate slopes, uneven terrain, bog & wet sites on foot
Related Intern Duties may include:
- Assist in invasive removals, soil and site preparation, design, grading, construction, and installation in renovated and new planting zones
- Attend meetings and complete training as directed by Supervisor
- Ability to provide and/or follow oral, written, and visual instructions and feedback. Must be team oriented
- Properly and safely operate box trucks, pickup trucks, golf carts, utility vehicles, pruners, watering units, tillers, pesticide sprayers, soil aerators, manual and automatic irrigation systems, and other various equipment and tools
Zoo Horticulture hours are Monday-Friday from 7:30am-3:30pm. A Flexible Schedule is available. Primary outdoor horticulture season begins March 1 and runs through December 15. Horticulture Theory & Greenhouse Work is available in January & February, with outdoor work as weather permits. Summer, Fall, and Spring Internships run according to school schedules. Currently, all internships are unpaid; interns are responsible for housing, meals, and transportation. All applicants must be current students at an accredited college, university or certification program following a course of study that is related to the internship and must be affiliated with a two- or four-year college or formal certification program. All interns will be required to pass a criminal background check prior to being accepted.
The intern’s working schedule will be a mutual decision between the intern and Turtle Back Zoo and will be considered final once agreed upon. The number of hours required weekly will not exceed 40. Adjustments to the schedule may be made if agreed upon by both intern and Turtle Back Zoo. If the intern is applying the experience to a college, university, or certification requirement, the intern is responsible for obtaining all necessary approvals from their college, university, or an official certification entity. Interns are required to provide proof of a completed COVID-19 vaccination series and negative TB test prior to their start date. Due to the nature of working with vulnerable animal species, no vaccination exceptions will be granted.
- 18 years of age or older
- Enrolled in or a recent graduate of a two or four-year college program or a certification course in Horticulture, Botany, Landscaping, Landscape Architecture, or related Environmental Science
- Applicants should consider themselves hard working, dedicated and reliable
- Applicants should have excellent observation and communication skills
- Ability to perform physically demanding tasks daily
- Ability to work from 7am, Monday – Friday, flexible days/hours will be considered
How to apply
- Prepare a cover letter that includes the following elements
- What is your status as a student (name of school/program, academic level, major, etc.)?
- Why do you want to intern with Turtle Back Zoo, how you would be a good fit, and any other special skills or qualities you will bring to TBZ?
- Submit directly to TBZ via email. Put your “name” and “internship application” in the subject line of your email. Email your cover letter, resume, and 2 letters of recommendation to:
Curator of Education