Garden Apprentice Program
The Garden Apprentice Program (GAP) at Brooklyn Botanic Garden is a great way for teens to learn about urban agriculture and the environment while working in one of the most exciting public gardens in the world! Apprentices can work their way up the four-tier program, potentially earning a paid position as a Tier 4 apprentice.
If you enjoy getting your hands dirty and want to work with other teens, GAP may be for you.
Apprentices make a nine-month commitment to GAP, from March to November, which includes spring training, summer programming, and a weekly commitment throughout the spring and fall. See the tier descriptions for more information.
2019 Application Deadline: Wednesday, December 4, 2019
Applications for the Garden Apprentice Program are currently closed and will reopen in the Fall of 2020. Please email us at [email protected] or call 718-623-7328 or 718-623-7252 if you have questions.
November 9, 2019
Please join us at 2 p.m. in the BBG Auditorium to find out more about the Garden Apprentice Program and the application process. Registration required to attend. RSVP to our Info Session or contact GAP at 718-623-7252, 718-623-7328, or [email protected].
December 4, 2019
January 3, 6, 7, or 9, 2020
(Each Tier will interview on a different date, details TBA.)
Acceptance Notifications Mailed
Last week in January 2020
Please note that admission for new apprentices is contingent upon a parent or guardian meeting with the GAP coordinators, either at Orientation or at a mutually agreed upon time prior to the first GAP training session.
Orientation for Apprentices and Parents
February 6, 2020
Saturdays, March 7, 21, 28, 2020
Summer Training (Tiers 1 and 4 only)
Tier 1 – June 29 – July 2
Tier 4 – June 29
Fall End-of-Season Events
Saturdays in November 2020
For specific dates and details, please download and see our GAP Program Calendar below. If you cannot access the calendar, please email us at [email protected] for help.
Garden Apprentices in all tiers
- Work with children, behind the scenes with staff, or with Garden visitors.
- Learn about botany, environmentalism, and protecting the earth.
- Grow, harvest, and cook fruits, vegetables, and herbs in the Children’s Garden.
- Explore in-depth Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s amazing plant collections and greenhouses.
- Develop job skills, including teamwork, communication, and responsibility.
Open to students in 8th or 9th grade
- Tier 1 apprentices work alongside an adult instructor and a teen Tier 4 apprentice in the Children’s Garden, helping with garden-based activities for children ages 4–10 in our after-school and weekend programs. Apprentices spend most of their time outdoors, working in the vegetable beds with children. They build skills in horticulture while learning how to be environmental educators. Gardening, nature explorations, and cooking with fresh ingredients are the main activities.
- Earn a monetary award at the end of the apprenticeship.
Open to students in 10th grade or to those who have successfully completed Tier 1
- Tier 2 apprentices work behind the scenes, experiencing the range of work we do here at Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Apprentices are placed in different mentorships in the spring, summer, and fall, such as helping our Interpretation team in the Discovery Garden or running science research projects. Tier 2 apprentices also delve into current local and global environmental issues through community action projects, films, field trips, and discussions.
- Earn a monetary award at the end of the apprenticeship.
Open to students in 11th grade or to those who have successfully completed Tier 2
- Tier 3 apprentices run our Discovery Carts—education stations that are wheeled out onto the grounds on weekends. Tier 3 apprentices build public-speaking and interpretation skills as they engage with Garden visitors on nature-based topics such as kitchen botany, plant evolution, and bees in the city. They work in teams to research and create Discovery Cart topics of their own choosing. Tier 3 apprentices also delve into current local and global environmental issues through community action projects, films, field trips, and discussions.
- Tier 3 apprentices who are rising seniors work with a college guidance professional to start the college application process.
- Earn a monetary award at the end of the apprenticeship.
Open to students who have successfully completed Tier 3
- Tier 4 apprentices work alongside an adult instructor and a Tier 1 apprentice in the Children’s Garden, helping lead garden-based activities for children ages 4–12 in our after-school and weekend programs. Tier 4 apprentices spend most of their time outdoors, working in the vegetable beds with children. They build skills in horticulture while learning how to be environmental educators. Gardening, nature explorations, and cooking with fresh ingredients are the main activities. Tier 4 apprentices take a leadership role in mentoring other apprentices, particularly Tier 1 apprentices, as well as teams of apprentices during horticulture time.
- Tier 4 apprentices who are rising seniors work with a college guidance professional to start the college application process.
- Earn an hourly wage.
1. Do I have to reapply to the program every year?
Yes. Even if you were in the program previously, you must submit an application (with reference letters) and participate in a group interview every year. You are not guaranteed a position in the next tier of the program just because you participated before.
2. I am in the 12th grade now—can I apply to be an apprentice?
Unfortunately, students currently in the 12th grade are not eligible to apply for GAP. The only 12th graders in the program are returning Tier 4 apprentices. (Tier 4 is not open to new applicants.)
3. If I participated in the Children’s Garden programs (Seeds, City Farmers, Junior Botanists, etc.), do I automatically get into GAP?
No, we do not automatically accept anyone into the program—all students must submit a full application and be interviewed. We have many apprentices who have participated in other BBG programs, and we encourage all former program participants to apply.
4. How does GAP decide who is accepted into the program?
The staff panel reviews the applications and considers the applicants’ short-answer responses and the teachers’ comments about the applicants on the reference forms, as well as how the applicants represent themselves at the group interview. We are looking for enthusiasm, genuine interest in learning at BBG, and an open mind. Past performance in the Garden Apprentice Program is also taken into consideration for returning applicants.
5. Do I have to pay to participate in the Garden Apprentice Program?
All new apprentices are required to pay a one-time $50 fee to help offset the cost of uniforms and other materials provided to each apprentice. As the apprentice moves up the tiers in the program, he/she is not required to pay the fee again. Need-based scholarships are available.
6. Do I need to have gardening experience to be accepted as an apprentice?
No. We have some apprentices with years of experience in growing food and working with plants and many more apprentices who have never set foot in a vegetable garden. The apprenticeship is designed so that people from all knowledge levels have opportunities to learn and explore.
7. What is the time commitment for an apprentice?
Apprentices typically work an average of 5–6 hours per week during the spring and fall and 20–25 hours per week during summer programming. Over the course of the year, our apprentices spend approximately 170–240 hours at the Garden. All apprentices have mandatory training for three full Saturdays in March. Meetings, trainings, and special events will be added periodically to the calendar.
The schedule for GAP varies depending on the time of year and your tier in the program. Please see the GAP Calendar for details.
While many apprentices participate in sports, clubs, college prep, and other extracurricular activities, we do ask that those serious about applying prioritize GAP, after academics. We help apprentices develop the time-management skills needed to juggle multiple responsibilities and are generally flexible regarding occasional conflicts, provided the apprentice communicates with supervisors in advance.
8. What are the dates for the 2020 program?
GAP runs from March through November 2020. Please see the GAP Calendar for details.
9. Can I miss the summer session and still participate in GAP?
No. Participation in the summer session of the program is required, no exceptions. Please schedule family vacations and other activities before or after the dates listed on the application.
10. Can I participate only in the summer session?
No. We ask apprentices to make a full commitment to the program, March–November. If you are looking for a summer internship only, this is not the place for you!
11. What if I want to go on vacation during the summer?
Please schedule family vacations and other activities before or after the dates listed on the application.
12. Can I apply for the Summer Youth Employment Program in the summer and still participate in GAP?
Due to scheduling constraints and other concerns, we are not able to have apprentices apply for SYEP funding for the summer.
13. Do I have to start at Tier 1, or can I join the program at another tier level?
New applicants can apply to the Garden Apprentice Program at any tier except Tier 4. To apply to be a Tier 4 apprentice, you must have successfully completed Tier 3.
14. Can I skip a tier?
We generally encourage apprentices to participate in all tiers once they have joined GAP as there are opportunities and skills unique to each tier that we think are valuable as you move up through the program. However, if you leave GAP for a year and wish to return, you are welcome to apply again.
15. Could participation in GAP count toward community service credit?
Absolutely! The hours you contribute to BBG as a Tier 1, Tier 2, or Tier 3 apprentice are considered volunteer hours. These hours can be used toward community service requirements from your school. Even though apprentices in Tiers 1, 2, and 3 receive a stipend for their work (see #16, below), the hours contributed are still considered volunteer hours. Tier 4 apprentices cannot apply their work hours toward community service because they are being paid for their work.
16. Do I get paid? When?
Apprentices who successfully complete the program are given a nontaxable award in December, as listed below. Apprentices in Tiers 1–3 who complete the program year with perfect attendance, as defined by the GAP handbook, will receive an additional monetary bonus of $50.
Tier 1: $150
Tier 2: $250
Tier 3: $450
Tier 4: Apprentices are considered part-time BBG staff and receive an hourly wage of $15 per hour based on the applicable minimum wage set by the NYC Department of Labor.
17. Is transportation provided to and from the Garden?
Apprentices are responsible for getting to and from the Garden for all GAP programs. Metrocards will be provided for apprentices in Tiers 1–3 if needed for transportation to and from GAP programs. Tier 4 apprentices are expected to provide their own transportation.
18. Will the program consider applicants with special needs?
Applicants with special needs are given equal consideration. We review each individual’s application on a case-by-case basis and, for applicants who may need significant support in order to participate fully in the program, may follow up with the applicant and his or her family to ensure a good fit. Please contact us if you have questions or would like to discuss a particular student’s application.
19. Do I have to send in all my application materials together, or can they be submitted separately?
No, you do not have to submit all your application materials at the same time. You can complete your application online, mail it in, or drop it off, and then ask your references to complete their forms online or mail them directly to the GAP coordinators:
Brooklyn Botanic Garden
1000 Washington Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11225
Make sure your references know that all application materials are due by midnight, December 4, 2019! That means that forms submitted by mail must be received by GAP by December 4, not postmarked by December 4. We recommend speaking with your references well in advance of the deadline. We do not accept faxes.
20. How many apprentices are accepted into the program?
GAP accepts 12 to 14 apprentices per tier. In the past, we have received about three times that number of applications. Therefore, acceptance into the program is competitive but not impossible! Good luck!
More questions? Contact the GAP coordinators at 718-623-7252, 718-623-7328, or [email protected].
Brooklyn Community Foundation
William C. Bullitt Foundation
Bulova Stetson Fund
Constans Culver Foundation
The Pinkerton Foundation
Zeldin Family Foundation