by Jourdan Cole
Collaborative and creative, caretakers and conservationists, curators and communicators—these are just a few words that come to mind when thinking about the people who work and study at Longwood Gardens. Among those are the interns—past, present, and future—who help keep our Gardens beautiful and thriving, and who have beautiful stories of their own to share. Find out how some of our previous interns got their start in public horticulture and where their careers have gone since—and how their time at Longwood helped them get there.
Some careers in horticulture require breaking new ground—both physically and metaphorically. The path from Longwood intern to Head of Grounds and Gardens for the J. Paul Getty Museum would take about three decades for Brian Houck (Conservatory Intern, 1987). In 1987, Houck left his collegiate studies in landscape architecture, not knowing what he would do next and not knowing that a career in public gardens was an option. Leaving Southern California to start anew on the East Coast, Houck came to Longwood for what was initially a six-month internship that turned into a nine-month stint, during which he became familiar with the interior spaces of the Conservatory and studied all aspects of design, production, and installation.
Houck realized thinking outside of the box would become his life’s work. After his internship, he returned to Southern California and enrolled at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo where he graduated in 1990 with a degree in ornamental horticulture and a concentration in public horticulture—a focus he created based on his experiences with Longwood. After completing his graduate degree in nonprofit management to strengthen his work in the world of horticulture, Houck now stewards two properties as Head of Grounds and Gardens for the J. Paul Getty Museum. He finds great meaning in preserving the cultural significance that engages people in horticulture and encourages participation in community.
Beth Hall Hoffman (Curatorial Intern, 2011–12), knew she wanted a career that combined the practical parts of horticulture with the science of plant nomenclature and taxonomy while she pursued a bachelor's degree in environmental horticultural science at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. She just didn’t know the extent to which that existed in practice. Luckily, she found out during her internship with Longwood. During Hoffman’s internship, she assisted with a number of hands-on projects in curation and plant records, including mapping projects in different areas of the garden, completed inventory checks of plants in the garden, learned to use plant records database software, made labels, and more.
Today, Hoffman works at Sarah P. Duke Gardens in Durham, North Carolina as the Paul J. Kramer plant collections manager. She manages plant records for the 55-acre garden, as well as propagates and grows plants for plant sales. She is also the chair of the Plant Nomenclature and Taxonomy Community of the American Public Gardens Association.
The chance to work with plant propagation significantly impacted the career of Anna Bower (Nursery Management Intern 2012–13). The work she began during her Longwood internship continues a decade later at her current position at Ganna Walska Lotusland in California where she works with a wide range of plant material including Victoria waterlilies. “Lotusland has a history of growing Victoria since the 1950s,” shares Bower. “Now we receive seed from Longwood every year and I propagate them in our nursery before they are placed in the outdoor ponds. I occasionally even put on waders and photograph the flowers when they open at night.”
Before interning at Longwood, Bower was an undergraduate student at Willamette University in Salem, Oregon, earning a bachelor’s degree in environmental science. She knew she liked plant propagation and working outside, so taking an internship with Longwood gave her a variety of experiences that would help to shape her future career. Her day-to-day activities at Longwood included propagating and growing woody plants, operating nursery machinery, pruning, digging trees, and learning ball-and-burlap techniques. But there was plenty of room to try out different responsibilities, including learning about tissue culturing chrysanthemums and conducting research projects—during which she discovered a love of botanic garden curation, plant nomenclature, and record keeping.
After the internship at Longwood, Bower volunteered at gardens in the Seattle area and completed an internship at the Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania, before earning her master’s degree in plant science with a specific focus in botanic garden curation. “Looking back, it feels like my current job is a culmination of all the skills and experiences I gained along the way,” she shares.
Three things stick out in Lauren Grow’s (Marketing and Communications– Intern, 2016–17) early career work—a dedication for nonprofits, a love of learning, and an inclination to be curious. Having completed her undergrad education at West Chester University with degrees in communication studies and political science, an internship with Longwood stuck out to Grow as a great post-graduate move to hone her skills. Her internship quickly expanded to all angles of marketing—touching on everything from social media to email marketing and writing. Even though marketing was her forte, a love of plants and learning attracted Grow to the internship. Field trips, collaborative meetings, and community building reinforced a well-rounded experience.
Since 2017, Grow has worked exclusively in the nonprofit industry, received her master's in nonprofit management from the University of Pennsylvania, and was named to Mainline Today’s 30 under 30 in 2020. Recently, she became the Director of Major Gifts at the West Chester University Foundation where she oversees a team of development directors. She’s also found meaningful work in teaching an undergraduate marketing and events course within West Chester University’s College of Business and Public Management. She’s also just started a new adjunct faculty role with Penn's School of Social Policy and Practice. Her experience at Longwood was transformative and she encourages anyone interested to consider it.
“The internship program at Longwood Gardens is a wonderful fit for the curious. Whether you’re interested in music, plants, education, marketing, and so much more, there’s something for everyone to learn, experience, and apply within the program!”
A Florida native, Daniel Greenwell (Outdoor Display Intern, 2013–14) recalls sharing in his Longwood internship interview that he was excited to experience plants in a new climate and see more snow. Little did he know that the Philadelphia area was in for one of the snowiest years on record during his intern year and that he’d become well-acquainted with the weather’s effects as the outdoor display intern.
Over the course of his internship, Greenwell certainly got his chance to experience all the seasons, transitioning Flower Garden Walk from the spring bulb display to the summer annual display, sheering the huge yew topiaries in the Topiary Garden, and planting hundreds of thousands of tulip bulbs in the fall for the upcoming spring display, among many other projects.
Former Outdoor Display Intern Daniel Greenwell during his time at Longwood. Photos provided by Daniel Greenwell.
Following his internship, Greenwell graduated from Auburn University in 2017 with a Master of Science degree in horticulture, and then began working at Piedmont Technical College in Greenwood, South Carolina. Since August 2017, Greenwell has been the Department Head of Horticulture and Agriculture there, where he teaches horticulture science as well as in-demand industry skills.
Before applying for an internship with Longwood Gardens, Morgan Horell (Marketing and Communications Intern, 2017–18) had never heard of Longwood, had never been to the Philadelphia area, and a working knowledge of plants wasn’t even on her radar. She was studying multimedia arts production with a minor in marketing at Juniata College, where she also worked in the marketing department as a videographer, social media manager, and photographer. A friend recommended she apply for the internship, so she started exploring the Longwood website and figured she’d give it a shot.
“My internship at Longwood was one of the most unexpected and yet absolute greatest years of my life thus far,” she shares. “I moved to Longwood sight unseen, but ready for my first post-undergrad step in life. My Longwood internship was the perfect transition from being a student into my professional working life.”
Horell was able to expand upon her intern responsibilities so that she could spend a great deal of time out in the Gardens creating content. Whether it was making weekly Instagram Stories, filming interviews for long-form videos, or capturing new photos of the garden—her camera went with her everywhere.
Since leaving Longwood, Horell has expanded on her passions in the arts and photography. She spent a summer interning at the Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts outside of Washington, DC before moving back to Philly for her current position as Marketing Content Associate at the Kimmel Cultural Campus and The Philadelphia Orchestra—a position that allows Horell to blend her love for Broadway and the performing arts with her experiences in visual and written communications to tell stories she’s passionate about. In addition to her full-time job, she’s also a freelance photographer.
Editor’s note: Interested in gaining practical experience, learning career skills, and studying in one of the world’s premier display gardens? Applications for our 2023 College and University Program are currently open to current college students and individuals who have graduated within the past year. Learn more and apply today.