Nature Play Advocate Intern

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How to Apply

Applications are welcomed and encouraged from all qualified individuals regardless of background and identity. A one-page cover letter is required for consideration for this position and should be attached as the first page of your resume. The cover letter should address your specific interest in the position and outline experience that directly relates to it. 


This is a student summer internship position with Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum. Within the Education Team, the Nature Play Advocate intern at the Gaffield Children's Garden (GCG) will combine innovative Nature Play activation with horticultural care of Gaffield Children's Garden. During this 15th anniversary year, Gaffield Children's Garden interns will develop knowledge of interdisciplinary frameworks of Nature Play, will create and actualize dynamic nature play engagements within Gaffield Children's Garden, across MBGNA, and occasionally off-site, will elevate public awareness of the value of outdoor play, nature access, and play equity, and provide garden care and ecosystem maintenance for Gaffield Children's Garden. The internship program runs May 6 through late August and includes evening and weekend hours.

Who We Are

University of Michigan's Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum (MBGNA) stewards over 840 acres of land and water across four properties in and around Ann Arbor, with Nichols Arboretum and Matthaei Botanical Gardens serving as its two anchor locations. Click here to view our Strategic Plan. With more than 500,000 annual visitors, MBGNA is committed to becoming a transformative force for social and ecological resilience through the lands and waters we steward. We put that commitment into action by:

  • Positioning humans as active participants within the natural world and compelling the university community and our publics to negotiate the full complexity that entails
  • Advancing partnerships, programs, user experience, and all that we steward to catalyze equity and justice in a radically changing world
  • Emerging as University of Michigan's premier partner for research, teaching, and public impact in sustainability, climate-forward practices, and biocultural diversity
  • Promoting healthier communities, cultures, and ecosystems through active care and cultivation of the gardens, fields, natural habitats, and dynamic systems that sustain our world.

MBGNA seeks to recruit and retain a diverse workforce as a reflection of our commitments to serve the diverse people of Michigan and sustain the excellence of University of Michigan.


  • Creation and activation of dynamic Nature Play engagements, in GCG and across MBGNA, and occasionally off-site
  • Horticultural care of Gaffield Children's Garden, including many types of gardens and eco-systems
  • Collaboration to activate a celebratory level of outdoor play across the age range.

Required Qualifications*

  • Graduated high school and currently enrolled in a college/university by the internship start date of May 6, 2024, or a December 2023 or spring 2024 college or university graduate.
  • Desire to work outside is essential
  • Strong interest in community engagement, child development, gardening & nature.

Desired Qualifications*

  • Affinity for non-traditional ways of learning

Additional Information

  • 40 hours/week with some weekend and evening hours;
  • May-late August; In-person/on-site, with limited hybrid flexibility.
  • Two positions available
  • Compensation: $15.00 per hour
  • Primary work location: Matthaei Botanical Gardens,1800 N Dixboro Rd, Ann Arbor, 48105
  • Note: Internship positions that involve work with children require a background check; accordingly students offered a GCG internship position will be subject to a clear background check prior to employment. 
  • For more information about Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum, please visit

Application Deadline

Job openings are posted for at least seven calendar days. This job may be removed from posting boards and filled at any time after the minimum posting period has ended. Applications will be reviewed as received throughout the posting period and continue until the position is filled.

U-M EEO/AA Statement

The University of Michigan is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer.