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 the principles of ecology, focusing particularly on ecological restoration in New York City, and to participate in important field research with working scientists―all while getting paid! 

July 2017–August 2018

  • Summer 2017: Five days per week for approximately 30 hours per week  
  • Academic Year 2017–2018:  Approximately four days per month, mostly Saturdays,  for approximately 6 hours per week
  • Summer 2018:  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 of $1700
  • Transportation stipend
  • Six college credits for succesful completion of coursework
  • 30 hours of community service (with opportunities to earn more hours)
  • Merit scholarships for exemplary work
  • Career and college advice and alumni network

Program Description

Summer 2017: Five days per week for approximately 30 hours per week  

The program begins with two intensive courses—Mapping NYC's Urban Environment: An Intro to GIS and Restoration of NYC Natural Areas—through the College of Mount Saint Vincent.  Each combines formal instruction with hands-on work in the field and in a computer lab.  The summer also includes data collection in Wave Hill's woodlands, guest speakers, field trips and review sessions. By the end of this first summer, students have been exposed to the principles of forest and restoration ecology, standard methods for data collection and the use of GIS as a tool for scientific inquiry and analysis. 

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

Sample Syllabus for Restoration Coursework 2016 (pdf)

Learn more about Wave Hill's Geographic Information Systems Course (pdf)

Sample Syllabus for GIS Coursework 2016 (pdf)

Academic Year 2017–2018: Approximately four days per month, mostly Saturdays, for approximately 6 hours per week 

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 scientists, read scientific journals, explore local natural areas and practice data-collection methods using GPS and GIS.  

Examples of past WERMShops include:

  • Stream exploration at Ward Pound Ridge Reservation
  • Kayaking with the Rockaway Waterfront Alliance
  • Hiking in Mianus River Gorge
  • 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 the 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 2018:  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 in August.

The Woodland Ecology Research Mentorship at Wave Hill is generously supported by the Barker Welfare Foundation, Cleveland H. Dodge Foundation, Con Edison, The Lucius N. Littauer Foundation, 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. Wave Hill’s operations are made possible in part by public funds provided through the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs; and the Zoos, Botanical Gardens and Aquariums Grant Program administered by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.