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Forest Project

Join the Forest Project!

While most internships take place in person there may be some aspects that are conducted remotely at Wave Hill’s discretion.

The Forest Project has engaged countless New York City youth in ecological restoration and urban ecology since its inception in 1981. This paid summer internship gives high school students an unparalleled opportunity to learn about ecology in an urban setting. Throughout the summer, interns gain hands-on field experience and participate in dynamic, field-based coursework.

The work is rigorous but satisfying—building and maintaining woodland trails, removing invasive plant species, shoring up eroded slopes, and helping to document the process of restoring the disturbed woodland toward a more balanced state. Team-building activities help create a strong sense of community, allowing interns to develop connections with each other and to the program's mission.

The application deadline for summer 2023 has passed. Please check back in January 2024, when we will begin accepting applications for next summer.

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The Forest Project gave more to me than I would've ever thought. I would tell future interns that they are getting something really special at Wave Hill.
Karl Former Forest Project Intern

Qualifications and Benefits

  • Benefits include $2,275 compensation, and three college credits upon successful completion of the academic course
  • Application qualifications:
    • Currently enrolled in high school and have an interest in urban environmental issues and aptitude for rigorous fieldwork
    • 16 years old by July 5, 2023 and a New York City resident eligible to work in the United States
    • Able to commit to the program schedule of July 2023 - August 2023, Monday through Friday, 9AM - 5PM
  • Important: In order for applications to be considered, applicants are required to apply to the Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) program listing our partner as your provider. Students submitting applications to other providers will not be considered. See more information in How to Apply section below.
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Under the direction of an experienced crew leader, interns form small crews assigned to different sites in our woodland. Crews develop a restoration plan for their work sites based on its specific needs, applying restoration strategies they learn in other aspects of the program. Interns work as a team, gain confidence in their skills, and take ownership of a meaningful restoration project.

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All interns take one college-level course. First-year interns take Restoration of New York City's Natural Areas. Interns work together on group projects involving data collection and field research at their work sites. The projects make up a significant portion of the course grade.

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Guest Speakers

Interns also meet and learn from guest speakers over Zoom. These experiences provide opportunities to meet a wide range of professionals in green careers, including landscape architects, forest research technicians, environmental journalists, authors and urban planners.

Who Should Apply

Ideal candidates for the Forest Project are interested in urban environmental issues and the intricacies of how these interconnect with their own lives. Strong applicants have an enthusiasm for science and show an aptitude for rigorous fieldwork, and field-based coursework—they want to engage with the work and don't mind getting their hands dirty!

An important goal of the Forest Project is addressing the barriers that prevent equal opportunity and support for careers in science and environmental work. We understand science is improved by a diversity of perspectives working together to understand our world. We encourage all NYC youth who are interested in urban ecology and committed to supporting their peers' learning to apply.

We particularly encourage applicants who self-identify as Black, Latinx, Indigenous and/or come from under-resourced schools and communities to apply.

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How to Apply

Two-Step Application Process

You must complete both of the following steps:

  1. Complete Wave Hill’s application (including the essay questions).
  2. Apply to New York City’s Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) lottery at You must put down St. Nick's Alliance as your provider* when applying to the SYEP lottery, or your application will not be considered:

* Important: You can only apply to SYEP through one provider. Once you submit your application, your choice of provider cannot be changed. It is imperative your selection is the provider listed above to be considered for Forest Project.

Please note:

  • Acceptance into the Forest Project program does not require winning a slot in the SYEP lottery as long as the applicant applies with the provider listed above.
  • Wave Hill selects candidates based on the quality of applications and interviews.
  • Acceptance into SYEP does not guarantee acceptance into Forest Project. If you are not accepted, your SYEP provider can likely place you elsewhere.

Outreach and Recruitment

Wave Hill staff visits local schools, community centers and nonprofit organizations to give presentations about our engaging programs. Email if you would like to schedule a visit.

Please also download our flyer about Forest Project and Woodland Research Ecology Mentorship (WERM) and share them with your students.