Science Career Continuum

Gives future scientists a head start

Educating and training scientists is a vital goal of the Daniel F. and Ada L. Rice Plant Conservation Science Center, but the master’s and Ph.D. students using the center’s laboratories, classrooms, and library are just some of the students the Chicago Botanic Garden is helping to prepare for careers in the environmental sciences.

About the Continuum

A program known as the Chicago Botanic Garden Science Career Continuum allows the Garden to connect its own programs for middle- and high-school students with those offering internships and mentoring for college and graduate students. The goal is to prepare a new generation of scientists who have the education and training needed to address the environmental and conservation challenges of our time.

The continuum begins with the Garden’s Science First and College First programs that annually recruit up to 60 middleschool and high-school students from Chicago Public Schools. A free summer science immersion program—combined with paid internships and mentoring for highschool students—improves these students’ overall academic performance and puts them on a path to college. More than 98 percent of College First graduates attend two- or four-year colleges.

Students who successfully complete College First and enter college can apply for a Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) in Plant Conservation internship. The Garden and Northwestern University provide REU interns a ten-week summer science-based program under the supervision of a Garden research scientist.

Armed with an undergraduate degree, College First graduates can apply for five- and ten-month Conservation Land Management internships. CLM interns assist professional staff at the Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, or U.S. Forest Service in one of 13 western states. Interns also receive a stipend and expand their resume and professional connections.

College First students seeking a graduate degree are eligible for scholarships enabling them to attend the master’s or Ph.D. programs the Garden offers jointly with Northwestern University. A graduate degree gives students credentials sought by universities and research departments.

From eighth-graders with promise to Ph.D.s with expertise in creating a healthier world, the Science Career Continuum at the Chicago Botanic Garden offers educational opportunities to Chicago students—and a brighter future to us all.

The Chicago Botanic Garden Science Career Continuum is being developed with a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.