Horticulture sophomore Anna Claire Cunningham completed a 10-week internship at Swarthmore College’s Scott Arboretum. From pruning to blogging, Cunningham tells us more about the wide variety of tasks the position required.
What were your duties as an intern?
Every morning, I ran through a “morning routine” where I made sure that the containers surrounding the Cunningham House were watered. I skimmed the pool, checked the pathways to see if they needed to be blown off, and checked for random debris in the walkways.
On Mondays, we all worked with our boss, Josh Coceano, on different tasks that needed to be done around the Cunningham House. I fertilized the greenhouses, watered around campus and checked on the planters. In the afternoons, usually there were projects such as planting out a bed, weeding/prepping a bed or working on container plantings. I also pruned different vines, potted up plants, and did some cutting propagation.
On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday mornings, we worked with the volunteers of Scott Arboretum, completing projects like weeding, pruning, or mulching different areas of the campus. The volunteers are older people in the community who love to garden and were willing to give up their time to come and help us. In the afternoons on these days, we worked with Josh on garden upkeep, planting, or preparing for different events that might happen. On some Fridays we went on field excursions where we got to talk to professional horticulturists at different gardens/arboretums in the area!
Once a month I completed a basic blog post (Plants of the Week) that highlights three plants around the arboretum and includes pictures to be posted on the website. I was also tasked with the Plant of the Month to showcase one shining plant in July. As an intern I was also involved in the larger events, such as the Woody Plant Conference, where I was an usher.
How did this experience benefit your undergraduate education?
I learned so much about a different area of the country! I believe that this internship gave me a different perspective on public gardening that I can use while interacting with the community of Nacogdoches and professionals in the field. I learned new techniques on ways to execute tasks and learned a whole new plant pallet. This has shown me a glimpse into just how big horticulture can be.
What was your favorite aspect of the internship?
My favorite part about this internship was getting to work with the volunteers and different gardeners! They were simply a delight to work with, and I loved hearing about their history and everything that they are doing/have done in their lives. It is a wonderful thing to get to work with such a dedicated group of people!
How did you learn about the internship?
Dr. Jared Barnes had this internship in 2008, and he often speaks of it fondly, as well as the gardens in the area. When I asked him about potential internships this one was on his list. I needed to see what it was like in Pennsylvania for myself, and I am so pleased with how it went.
The work environment there is amazing! I was worried about how my transition to Pennsylvania would go, but working with such nice people really helped, and I felt right at home. I love that I got to work with plants on a daily basis, and I learned so much!