A public garden & cultural center

Forest Project

Learn & Earn

Spend an unforgettable summer working as part of a small crew protecting and improving Wave Hill’s woodlands, enjoying the outdoors, learning about restoration ecology and making friends, all while getting paid and earning college credit.

The 2020 Forest Project runs from June 29 to August 21.*

* Required family orientation and intern-training sessions will take place during the last two weeks of June. These sessions will not conflict with school attendance.

Two-Step Application Process

There are two steps to applying for this program.

  1. First, complete Wave Hill’s application, which includes essay questions.
  2. Then apply to New York City’s Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) lottery. In order for your Forest Project application to be considered, you must choose Children’s Aid***, Wave Hill’s partner, as your provider when you apply to SYEP. SYEP has not yet provided a link to their application. Stay tuned!  

*** We are currently working on adding more providers for Summer 2020 – stay tuned for more information

Please note:

  • As long as your SYEP application lists Children’s Aid as your provider, then acceptance in our Forest Project program will not depend on being selected through SYEP’s lottery.  
  • If you are selected into SYEP through its lottery, you are not guaranteed acceptance in our Forest Project program. If you do not get accepted into our program, Children’s Aid may be able to place you elsewhere.

*** Important: You can only apply to SYEP through one provider. Once you submit your application, your choice of provider cannot be changed. So please be careful to choose Children’s Aid as your provider when you fill out SYEP’s application.



• Currently enrolled in the 10th, 11th or 12th grade
• Interested in urban environmental issues
• Strong academic record, especially in the sciences
• Ready for rigorous fieldwork and academic study
• Available Monday through Friday, from 9AM to 5PM


• First-year interns earn approximately $2,275 for the entire summer.
• Second-year interns earn approximately $2,375 for the entire summer.

Program Description  

Now going into its 40th year, the Forest Project continues to be one of Wave Hill’s signature programs. 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 a dynamic, field-based course. Guest speakers, field trips and special projects contribute to an immersive and rewarding summer. The work is demanding 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 and connection both for fellow interns and for the project's collective mission. 

Field Work

Under the direction of an experienced crew leader, interns will be assigned a small crew and work site where they can implement their own plans for trail maintenance, erosion control, invasive removal and native species plantings. As interns gain confidence with basic restoration skills and problem solving as a team, they take ownership over their work sites.  

Learn more about field work for the Forest Project (pdf)

Field-based Coursework

All interns take one course: first-year interns take Restoration of NYC's Natural Areas; second-year interns take Mapping NYC's Urban Environment: An Intro to GIS. The coursework and the field work are complementary; both are integrated to create a meaningful and practical learning experience. Interns also work together on group projects involving data collection and field research related to their work sites. These projects make up a significant portion of the final course grade. Students receive three college credits for successful completion of either course through the College of Mount Saint Vincent. 

Learn more about Wave Hill's coursework on Restoration of NYC Natural Areas (pdf)

Sample Syllabus for Restoration Coursework 2016 (pdf)

Learn more about the Geographic Information Systems Course (pdf)

Sample Syllabus for GIS Coursework 2016 (pdf)

Field Trips and Guest Speakers

Field trips and guest speakers provide opportunities to meet a wide range of professionals in green careers. Guest speakers include landscape architects, forest research technicians, environmental journalists, authors and urban planners. Recent field trips have included canoeing on the Bronx River, hiking in the Mianus River Gorge and exploring Pelham Bay Park. Field trips usually combine a work project with a tour or guided activity led by an onsite expert.

Learn more about Forest Project Field Trips (pdf)

The Forest Project at Wave Hill is generously supported by the Barker Welfare Foundation, Cleveland H. Dodge Foundation, Con Edison, The Hearst Foundations, Lower Hudson Partnerships for Regional Invasive Species Management, The Lucius N. Littauer Foundation, The New Yankee Stadium Community Benefits Fund, the New York State Education Department, and The Pinkerton Foundation. Sustaining support for Wave Hill’s Educational Programming is provided by the Sally and Gilbert Kerlin Endowment Fund at Wave Hill for Environmental Science and Nature Education.