Public Horticulture Intern (paid)

Chicago, IL
Full Time

Lincoln Park Zoo inspires communities to create environments where wildlife will thrive in our urbanizing world. The zoo is a leader in local and global conservation, animal care and welfare, learning, and science. A historic Chicago landmark founded in 1868, the not-for-profit Lincoln Park Zoo, is a privately-managed, member-supported organization and is free and open 365 days a year. Visit us at 




The department of Animal Care and Horticulture are an integrated team that cares for the animals and plants that live at the Lincoln Park Zoo. 

The Public Horticulture Intern is a full-time 12-week paid position to assist in the management of plant records and labeling of garden plants, horticulture maintenance, animal browse collection, and garden design. The intern will work with the Director of Horticulture and Manager of Plant Records and Horticulture Programs to build a general knowledge of public horticulture, studying and learning plants that thrive in the Chicago area, as well as in a conservatory setting, and utilizing the resources provided by the zoo to further develop themselves professionally. They will also get the unique opportunity to work in a public garden at a zoo. Upon completion of the internship, the intern will also develop and complete a presentation about what they learned about working in public horticulture at a zoo, as well as providing highlights of their internship experience. 



  • Assist in plant inventories and data validation. 

  • Assist in the manufacturing and installation of accession and interpretive labels in the zoo gardens.  

  • Assist with data organization and data input into the plant records database.  

  • Frequently work independently and in groups with other zoo staff and volunteers.  

  • Assist in the loading, unloading, and transportation of plants, garden equipment and materials. 

  • Participate in garden maintenance, including grooming, weeding, watering, mowing, and mulching. 

  • Participate in the installation of display plants and permanent collections plants under the guidance of Director of Horticulture and/or Manager of Plant Records and Horticulture Programs.  

  • Maintain inventory, cleanliness, and function of daily use tools and supplies. Support the Assistant Manager of Horticulture Operations in general tool maintenance and organization. 

  • Ensures cleanliness, order, and safety of working environment for her or his self and those in and surrounding the work site. 



  • Build a foundation of understanding for the curation and management of a public garden. 

  • Gain experience in plant identification, plant records, data management, and horticulture maintenance. 

  • Develop written and oral presentation skills. 



  • May be asked to represent the zoo at internal and external functions, including but not limited to zoo donor tours, zoo special events and professional meetings and conferences 

  • May use electric cart or hand truck to move supplies and debris 

  • May be asked to direct volunteers and guests in a zoo emergency 

  • May be asked to participate in zoo horticulture-related programming 

  • Performs other duties as assigned 



  • Ability to identify or willingness to learn common ornamental and native landscape plants. 

  • Ability to communicate in verbal and written English. 

  • Ability to understand and carry out oral and written directions. 

  • Ability to organize tasks and time to ensure timely completion. 

  • Ability to interact courteously and respectfully with supervisors, fellow employees, volunteers, zoo visitors and general public. 

  • Knowledge of appropriate gardening techniques and practices helpful. 




College degree seeking or recent graduate from a program studying horticulture, plant sciences, landscape architecture, biology or similar science related field.  




Ability to lift on occasional basis up to 50 lbs. Ability to remain on feet for long periods of time. Ability to frequently bend, stoop, reach and climb. Ability to safely and effectively utilize the program tools and equipment. Ability to move about on sometimes slippery, muddy surfaces. Ability to work in all weather conditions. Ability to work on uneven terrain. No allergy to plants or animals which may interfere with the ability to work. Accommodations can be made to support variation in abilities. 



A valid Illinois driver’s license and maintenance of a good driving record is required. 


Available to work special events that may occur outside of regular work schedule as assigned. Proof of COVID vaccine. 


Lincoln Park Zoo is committed to an environment that is inclusive and welcoming. We celebrate the diverse qualities, perspectives, values and experiences of all people. For Wildlife. For All. 


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