A public garden & cultural center

Woodland Ecology Research Mentorship

Become a WERM!

Wave Hill’s Woodland Ecology Research Mentorship is a  14-month program offering motivated New York City high school students a unique opportunity to gain in-depth knowledge of  NYC ecological restoration efforts and conduct important field research with working scientists―all while getting paid! 

July 2015–August 2016

  • Summer 2015: Five days per week for approximately 30 hours per week  
  • Academic Year 2015-2016:  Approximately four days per month, mostly Saturdays,  for approximately 5 hours per week
  • Summer 2016:  Five days per week for approximately 30 hours per week 


  • Currently enrolled in the 9th, 10th or 11th grade in a New York City high school   
  • Strong interest in science research and the urban environment
  • Strong academic record, especially in the sciences
  • Ability and motivation to work independently

Program Benefits

  • Stipend
  • 40 hours of community service (with opportunities to earn more hours)
  • Merit scholarships for exemplary work
  • Career and college advice and alumni network
  • High school credit may be granted by your school

Program Description

Summer 2015: Five days per week for approximately 30 hours per week  

The program begins with immersion in science and field research. During the first summer, students take two courses at Wave Hill and Lehman College—Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Restoration of NYC Natural Areas. Each course combines formal instruction with hands-on work in the field and in a computer lab. It also includes data collection in Wave Hill’s woodlands, as well as guest speakers, field trips and review sessions. By the end of the first summer, students are exposed to the principals of forest ecology, standard methods for data collection and the use of GIS as a tool for scientific inquiry and analysis.

Learn more about the WERM Restoration of NYC Natural Areas Course (pdf)

Learn more about the WERM Geographic Information Systems Course (pdf)

Academic Year 2015-2016: Approximately four days per month, mostly Saturdays, for approximately 5 hours per week in Riverdale Park and at Wave Hill

The academic year is dedicated to building an understanding of the different methodologies used in scientific research, as well as to acquiring knowledge of the ecology of New York City’s natural areas. Through a series of weekend (and occasional after-school) WERMShops, students meet local working scientists, read scientific journals, explore local natural areas and practice data-collection methods using GPS and GIS.  

Examples of past WERMShops include:

  • Water testing in Newtown Creek
  • Canoeing the Bronx River to learn about ecological restoration projects
  • Hiking in Black Rock Forest
  • Collecting salamander data at Wave Hill

Students also participate in ecological monitoring at Riverdale Park and at Wave Hill. Putting their newly acquired techniques to use, they collect data that contributes to existing research efforts. There is a required number of hours for this activity, though the schedule is flexible.

In early spring, students are split into small teams and paired with a mentor to identify an area of interest and lay the groundwork for their final project.

Learn more about WERMShops (pdf)

Summer 2016:  Five days per week for approximately 30 hours per week 

The second summer, each participant spends time working on small-group research projects with his or her mentor, and putting in an additional 10 to 15 hours a week working with his or her team. The projects culminate in a final poster which is presented at a celebratory graduation symposium.

The Woodland Ecology Research Mentorship at Wave Hill is generously supported by the Barker Welfare Foundation, the Bay and Paul Foundations, Cleveland H. Dodge Foundation,  Con Edison, 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.