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Horticulture Internship

This internship has closed. To see open and upcoming opportunities, visit the internships page.

The Smithsonian's National Zoo provides the opportunity for interns to participate in horticultural management activities related to maintaining animal exhibits.

There are three internship sessions during the year: spring, summer and fall. Interns will intern 25 to 40 hours per week (shifts start at 7 a.m.) rotating between the Bird House, Small Mammal House, Reptile Discovery Center and Amazonia exhibits. The internship is managed by the Bird House. Each unit features a large collection of exotic animal and plant species. The intern must be comfortable being around animals and must follow established unit protocols.

Learning Objectives: 

Through this internship, interns will:

  • Assist animal keepers with plant care, including care of indoor tropical plants, pest monitoring and control (via approved Zoo protocols), pruning, watering, fertilizing, transplanting and propagation
  • Learn and follow animal/keeper safety guidelines, operations and polices required for working safely with plants in animal exhibits
  • Develop or select a project to complete during the internship, and present a short project summary to staff at the completion of the internship
  • Learn plant care husbandry and how it affects animal husbandry

Preference will be given to undergraduate or graduate students pursuing a career in a related field. Intern should have strong communication skills and the ability to work in a team environment with staff and other interns and volunteers. The intern should enjoy being outdoors in all weather conditions and be able to lift at least 50 pounds. The incumbent must be comfortable interacting with animals, which may be in close proximity. A trial day is required prior to applicant acceptance into the program. This assures that the internship activities are understood by the selectee and will meet their educational goals. A TB test is required prior to being near the animals.

This is an unpaid internship. College credit is offered if desired; intern is responsible for obtaining necessary approvals from their university. Intern will be responsible for all transportation costs and personal health insurance.
Washington DC
The intern will make his or her own housing arrangements in the Washington, D.C., area.
The Smithsonian's National Zoo and the Smithsonian Institution do not provide free parking to interns.
Term of appointment: 

There are three internship sessions throughout the year: spring, summer and fall.

  • Spring session: Jan. 15 to April 15. Applications must be submitted by Nov. 1.
  • Summer session: May 15 to Aug. 15. Applications must be submitted by March 1.
  • Fall session: Sept. 15 to Dec. 15. Applications must be submitted by July 1.
Application deadline(s): 
Friday, March 31, 2017
Internship Category: 
Animal Programs
How to Apply: 

To apply, go to: Select "Don't have an Account? Create An Account." Complete the information to create an account.

Information that will be requested (in SOLAA) includes:

  • Basic personal information
  • Professional resume or CV
  • A one-page statement of your interest in pursuing this position. The statement should mention relevant experience, career goals, your reasons for wanting this internship, and what you hope to gain from the experience. Your statement is very important during application evaluations
  • Transcripts from your current and/or previous institutions. Unofficial transcripts are acceptable.
  • Two references (letters are not necessary)
  • Schedule of availability.

Once you create your account and provide the information above, you will see a screen where you select the type of appointment you are interested in. You will select:

  • Type of appointment: “Internship”
  • Unit of interest: “National Zoological Park”
  • Program: “National Zoological Park Internship Program”
  • Project: “Rock Creek - National Zoo Horticulture Internship”

IMPORTANT: Your application is considered complete when you hit “Submit.” Your SOLAA-submitted application with references must be received by the deadlines as noted above.