Chicago Botanic Garden


College First

Science, College, and Careers
Learn & Earn!

College First is a dynamic paid internship program for eligible Chicago Public High School students consisting of career mentorship, field ecology and conservation science, and college prep and assistance. Each summer, approximately 20 students from Chicago Public Schools travel to the Garden by school bus from designated stops to spend eight weeks in the Garden's beautiful setting. They explore a vast array of potential science careers and use the Garden's 385 acres and resources to learn about native ecosystems and plants. Students spend a portion of each day being mentored by a Chicago Botanic Garden staff member and the other portion of the day in group instruction. During the summer, as well as at monthly meetings over the school year, emphasis is also placed on college as a pathway to careers and guidance is given to the students, who are often the first in their families to attend college.

Please note: Due to restrictions on funding that supports these programs, enrollment is limited to students from Chicago Public Schools. For more information about these programs, please call Amaris Alanis Ribeiro at (847)

What past interns have to say

"College First helped me see a brighter future for myself. My time in the Garden was full of rich learning experiences, and I enjoyed every single day."

"The hands-on activities, field trips, and one-on-one attention were strategies that were effective and fun."

"Instruction at the Chicago Botanic Garden was more effective than regular 'school' instruction. It was more hands-on, which taught me more than traditional lessons."

"I was able to find my passion through College First."