Summer Internship: High School Students
The Central Park Conservancy High School Summer Internship provides 25 high school students with paid full-time positions for 7 weeks in July and August. Participants receive the opportunity to contribute directly to the care and restoration of Central Park. Working side-by-side with Conservancy staff, interns learn about the complexity of managing an iconic and historic urban park that receives over 42 million visits a year.
All interns work 5-days a week: 4 days at their individual position and Fridays together as a group. On Fridays, interns are introduced to the broader green careers field via field trips to other park and environmental organizations. The internship includes reflective writing assignments and public speaking.
All interns will be provided with 5 uniform shirts, a hat, and rain gear (if appropriate). Interns must wear solid-colored, long pants (preferably khaki-colored) and appropriate footwear (boots for horticulture). Selected applicants will be interviewed in May with final hiring decisions made by the end of May.
The Central Park Conservancy High School Summer Internship Program is very competitive. We receive more applications than positions available. Previous experience with Central Park Conservancy programs, including internships or ROOTS, does not guarantee admittance into the current year's program. All applications are reviewed at face value and applicants are chosen on the merit of their application and match for positions available.
The internship is 7 weeks, July 2 – August 17. Mandatory orientation for all interns will take place on July 2 & 3.
Interns are paid biweekly at a competitive hourly rate of $13/hour.
High school interns are eligible for a 403(b) Retirement Plan and Short Term Disability.
Applicants must be at least 16 years old before July 1 to be considered. To be hired, students must have a social security number, appropriate photo ID verifying employment eligibility, and working papers (if under 18).
Application deadline: April 30.
Horticulture Intern (20 positions)
Visitor Services Intern (5 positions)
See what our former summer interns are saying about their experiences in these submissions to our essay contest, From the Next Generation of Park Stewards. We asked each of our interns to think deeply about their experience in relation to the importance of urban park stewardship.
Until the start of the internship, I never imagined that taking care of a park would be so demanding, especially one that is as large as Central Park. Picking up after the patrons and weeding a countless amount of plants gets tiring very quickly, but there is always something to learn and new people to meet. I didn't realize how important park stewardship is until I was gathering a bag full of trash every morning. If nobody were to clean up after the Park, trash would be piling up by the end of the week. I once thought a small piece of trash on the ground was insignificant. However, I realized that cleaning up the Park is crucial to patrons who enjoy and use the Park and to the animals that live in it.
Central Park is an epicenter of the city. Many people visit on a daily basis. People use it for everything: sitting under trees, running, painting, biking, relaxing and enjoying the scenery. I worked in the southeast corner of the park, where crowds of people enter the Park. The Park is a vital part of many people's livelihoods. There are food vendors, performers, artists, musicians, horse carriages, bike riders and so much more. If the Park wasn't inviting, there wouldn't be any traffic for these people to continue to do what they do.
Patrons of the Park are always appreciative of our work. Even if the Park isn't a part of their daily routine, people from all over the world visit and share their amazement in the Park. Before this internship, I'd never thought that anyone could be so fascinated by squirrels! I love seeing people from all other the world experience the Park in different ways. Central Park is one of the few places in the city that people can connect with nature. It's rewarding to see others appreciate the landscape work and atmosphere of my section. Walking around picking up trash around The Pond early every morning is very calming. There are few people around and it feels like I have the Park to myself. I hope my work in the Park has influenced others to feel a similar feeling when they are in the Park.
After this experience, park stewardship is meaningful to me because it is more strenuous than it looks to maintain an appealing environment for people and animals. I'm very surprised and appreciative that this entire city isn't overrun by smartweed and broadleaf plantain. The Park is the only place where strangers will say hello or good morning and I wouldn't question their motives. Kids come up to me and thank me all the time when they see us working. It is important to set an example for children to take care of the environment and show them that is their responsibility, and I hope I inspired some of them to do so. Overall, I'm proud to be a steward of the Park. Even if I was just doing simple tasks, I know my work this summer has benefitted the community and the environment. I learned so much this summer, from names of plants to how to change a garbage can. I've realized that maintaining a functional park for animals and people is challenging, and I'm so grateful to stewards of urban parks.
In Philip K. Dick's 1968 novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, the character J. R. Isidore describes the concept of "kipple." According to Isidore, kipple refers to the useless objects, the "junk" and "trash," that congregate in neglected places. Whenever a human landscape is uncared for, kipple will inexorably build up, driving out non-kipple in the process. Thus, life is a constant battle against the encroach of kipple, and all manmade spaces are doomed to be reclaimed by it as they are eventually abandoned by their owners and caretakers. Though the idea of kipple is an allegorical concept spoken by a fictional character in a post-apocalyptic world, it applies surprisingly readily to the Conservancy's maintenance of Central Park and that of urban parks in general.
The encroaching kipple of urban parks is two-fold. First is the kipple of humankind-cellophane wrappers, water bottles, domestic dog feces. This is the kind of kipple that one normally thinks of as "trash". It threatens both the physical health of the natural ecosystem and the mental health of the patrons, and it is thus imperative that it be removed immediately and unceasingly. Much human kipple is non-biodegradable or otherwise a pollutant of the park ecosystem, making it a threat to the natural elements of the Park, and at the same time prevents patrons from enjoying the Park due to its unsightliness and unsanitariness, damaging the very species that creates it. Not only is human kipple incredibly dangerous to the health and usability of the park, it also builds up extremely rapidly. As an example, we might estimate that some 500 individual pieces of human kipple accumulate in Sheep Meadow every day, by scaling this estimate up to reflect the size of the entire park, and reducing that by 25% to account for the fact that not all areas of the park are as well visited, we arrive at an estimate of about 21,000 pieces of human kipple in the Park each day. Thus, in the space of only a few days, the human kipple count climbs into the hundreds of thousands, reaching the millions in only a couple of months. This plainly shows that without the constant intervention of dedicated human kipple-fighters, the Park would become almost unusable in well under a year. The only saving grace of human kipple is that as it builds up, it deters human visitors and thus slows further accumulation, to some small extent saving the natural ecosystems that remain.
The other brand of kipple that threatens urban parks is that of nature-overgrown plants, invasive species, unsightly weeds, fallen wood and leaves, animal corpses. With the exception of invasives, this kipple is generally not a threat to the health of the natural ecosystem that creates it. Though it may threaten one or two individuals, nature as a whole is adept in overcoming its own refuse, and therefore continues to thrive. The primary threat of natural kipple is directed to the human patrons, for natural kipple, in the eyes of humanity, renders the Park unsightly. This leads to a decrease in patronage, which then leads to an emptiness that favors the growth of crime and perceived crime, leading to a further decline in patronage, triggering a feedback loop that creates an indefinite increase in natural kipple and decrease in patronage.
Though these two types of kipple have different sources and pose different threats, they are nonetheless of equal consequence and must both be dealt with constantly for the Park to remain both healthy and popular. Despite their connection with the natural world, parks are still human landscapes, and, as such, are susceptible to the inexorable encroach of kipple. Unlike most human landscapes, however, a park is a temporary refuge, a place of leisure. Patrons come to parks to escape the fight against kipple, not to join it. Thus, it is only through the service of dedicated workers, through volunteers, through gardeners, through trash collectors, that parks may be kept free of kipple and open to all.
Youth Education and Service Programs are supported in part by The Barker Welfare Foundation; Doris Duke Charitable Foundation; Epstein Teicher Philanthropies; Abraham Perlman Foundation; The Pinkerton Foundation; and William E. Weiss Foundation, Inc./Daryl Brown Uber.