Learning by Leading


Our internships are based upon a fundamental premise: 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 professional staff began their careers with internships at the UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden and, as former interns, are keenly aware of the productive, collaborative, and creative work that results from training and working with interns as true partners and leaders. Many of our interns have gone on to satisfying and productive professional work and leadership positions in public garden management, sustainable design, nursery management, natural areas management, outdoor education, conservation science, research, horticulture, biological monitoring, and other related work 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 work closely with academic units on campus (departments vary according to internship) to ensure that students have a faculty sponsor and receive units for their work with the UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden. The majority of interns receive credit; however, we do offer some paid student positions each year.

For a list of internship opportunities, click here.

Additional internship benefits include:

  • Learning about Central Valley gardening, drought-tolerant landscaping, California native plants, and best practices in horticulture, plant propagation, landscaping, education, and community outreach.
  • Gaining hands-on leadership, team-building, and 21st century professional skills that are highly transferrable to future careers.
  • Developing community with fellow student interns and attending continuing education training
  • Developing working relationships with Arboretum staff mentors and having access to staff expertise.
  • Learning¬† how to organize events and planting days, and engage with volunteers, visitors and other community members.
  • If appropriate, Arboretum staff will write letters of reference for school admission, other internship opportunities, employment, or community service verification.


Overview of Learning by Leading Student Teams 2014-15  
Overview of Learning by Leading Student Teams 2013-14
Photo Album of Student Leaders