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! 

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Program runs from June 2020–August 2021.

  • Summer 2019
    • Program runs from June 29 to August 21, 2020.
    • In June, required family orientation and intern-training sessions will take place. These sessions will not conflict with school attendance.
    • Sessions run from approximately 9AM to 5PM, Monday through Friday.
  • Academic Year 2020–2021
    • Meets most Saturdays from mid-September through mid-June.
    • Three to four meetings take place on weekdays when school is not in session.
    • Optional community serivce opportunities are available on weekday afternoons and on Sundays.
  • Summer 2020
    • Summer phase runs from July to approximately August 20, 2021.
    • Sessions take place five days per week for approximately 30 hours per week. 
    • Schedule is Monday through Friday, 9:30AM to 4PM.


  • Currently enrolled in the 9th, 10th or 11th grade in a New York City high school   
  • Applicants must be born before June 15, 2005
  • Strong interest in science research and the urban environment
  • Strong academic record, especially in the sciences
  • Able and motivated to work independently
  • Available to participate in all three phases of the program as described above

Program Compensation and Benefits

  • Total compensation for 14-month program is at least $3,600, including stipend, merit scholarship and transportation benefits.
  • Nine college credits can be earned for successful completion of coursework.
  • 30 hours of community service are available (with opportunities to earn more hours).
  • The program includes career and college advice and access to an alumni network.

Program Description

Summer 2020

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 2020–2021

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 weekly 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:

  • Tour of research projects and Rutgers University's Hutchinson Memorial Forest
  • Kayaking with the Rockaway Waterfront Alliance
  • Hiking in Mianus River Gorge
  • Freshwater-ecology data collection in Van Cortlandt Park

WERMShops take place most Saturdays. Students should plan to be available from 9:30AM to 4:30PM, though many sessions are much shorter.

Students also earn community service hours by participating in ecological monitoring and restoration work at Wave Hill. Putting their newly acquired techniques to use, they collect data that contributes to existing research efforts, and help us improve our woodlands.

In the spring, students are split into small teams and paired with a mentor to begin laying the groundwork for their final project.

Learn more about WERMShops (pdf)

Summer 2021

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. Students will also take a 3-credit research methods course through The College of Mount Saint Vincent that will meet weekly to support students in their research. 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 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, The Pinkerton Foundation, Rose M. Badgeley Residuary Charitable Trust, and Science Sandbox, an initiative of the Simons 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.